Close but no Bolshoi

A theatre’s primary function is to embrace the audience and to make the performers comfortable. The world’s greatest concert halls (the Carnegie being one) are known for their gracefully conclave viewing areas, but not the new Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where I spent nearly four hours yesterday. It is a small theatre, totally incomparable to … Continue reading

News Roundup 18/09/09

Controversy over the Thames: ‘Furious’ London Mayor Boris Johnson has ordered the River Thames to be reinstated on the London Underground map after Transport for London decided to redesign it. Tfl’s decision to remove zone boundaries will also now be reviewed. The redesign caused so much outcry from politicians and passenger groups and fears that … Continue reading

News Round-Up

How Berlusconi survived his scandals: “In some ways, Berlusconi is the Italian political equivalent of Bank of America or AIG: he is simply too big to fail. Too many who have carved out their slice of power would risk losing it all in the monumental shakeout that would follow Berlusconi’s exit from politics. And even … Continue reading

Central Planning, Central Housing

The Russians had been doing the central planning about their peoples’ housing for centuries, and nearly always, this is somehow coupled with Machiavellian, Procrustean means. From Ivan the Terrible’s decision to remove shops from the Red Square (in his defense, they were fire hazards) to some Russian general’s ingenious Moscow defense against Napoleon (which involved … Continue reading

The Saga of Peter the Navigator

At the junction of Mockva River and Voodootvodnyy Canal stands a large, awkward statue of Tsar Peter the Great with his back to the Kremlin. For me, the statue–completed in 1997, to commemorate the Founding of the Russian Fleet by the said tsar–is a validation of all stereotypes about Russia, nepotism, bureaucratic mismanagement, anarchy and … Continue reading

… look back from behind him…

It was my first and only grounding. No internet. No Playstation 2. No television. It was an extremely uncalled-for punishment for trashing my uncle’s wine cellar (if you can call it such), but in his defense, it was an irreplaceable bottle of Chateau Laftite. But the silver lining to that grounding came in the form … Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Moscow!

On the first weekend in September, Moscow celebrates its birthday, and it was 5th-6th September this year. I went out to two places where they actually celebrate the day in a grand manner–the city centre and the victory park. The midday parade of young highschoolers and university students seemed almost farcical when it was done … Continue reading

Gorky Park

A few foreigners walked into Gorky Park. This post is not a joke, but many a Western joke in the Soviet Days started out with similar words. Although a park called VDNK in the northern part of the city was more popular back then, Gorky Park was immortalized by Martin Cruz Smith in his novel … Continue reading

Still talking about healthcare?

I guess we are. I have totally zoned out of the topic, but people haven’t yet. At least the late night shows are on August recess and we are spared of some uncalled for jokes. But you don’t been Jon Stewart to create soundbites. This weekend, one soundbite got prevalent that it even reached me. … Continue reading

Who Lost Japan?

Recent developments in Japan may dramatically change the country and the region, but for better or for worse? Last week, Japan elected Democratic Party, ending the ruling party (Liberal Democrats)’s virtually uninterrupted reign since the end of the Second World War. In the West, the story was not paid much of an attention because in … Continue reading