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To `Moscow,' with love

George Jacob

A unique get-together of persons with Russian names



A TASTE OF RUSSIA: At Moscow Junction in Changanassery, people with Russian names came together at a function organised by the Russian Cultural Centre on Saturday. - Photo: Johney Thomas

MOSCOW (Kottayam district) : Lenin was on the dais expounding on the pharmaceutical business he was running, even as Stalin broke down, forcing his parents to take him out of the hall. And Krushchev, Breshnev and Gorbachev were more interested in what Pushkin had to say about the good things that a Russian name could bring to the person. In fact, `Moscowites' were taken aback by the sudden appearance of all these leaders on their streets.

The Malayali's involvement with Communism and the eagerness to realize a revolution had manifested in many ways, the easiest one being naming their children after prominent personalities of the Soviet Union. On Saturday, a few of them met at the little junction at Madappally, near Changnassery, thanks to the initiative of the Russian Cultural Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

Said Berin who hails from Thiruvananthapuram: "My father named me after the Russian scientist not just because he was a science teacher but also because he was a communist sympathiser." But he now regrets having such a strange sounding name. "I have decided to change my name to Berin Bhasker so that it would sound more Indian. But Krushchev, also from Thiruvananthapuram, disagrees. It was his father, a staunch Congressman, who named him after the Russian leader. It has helped him in many ways, one of them being getting excluded from the list of accused after a violent agitation, only because the policeman present there found it difficult to spell (in Malayalam) such a strange name. But he could not name his son after Russian leaders as he wished to name the child after Krishna.

But most of the `Russians' come from communist families. Gagarin from Ernakulam was named by his communist father after the Space Hero received a rousing welcome in New Delhi - he was born a few months after the Russian space victory. There were three Pushkins at the conference and at least one of them said he was trying to emulate the great Russian writer - he is a poet and also a painter. There were nine Lenins, including the one from `Moscow' itself. There were three Stalins, the youngest one just three years old.

The other `Russians' who arrived for the meeting included Breshnev, Dimitrov, Eleena, Anasthasia, Mikail, Natasha, Tania and Tereshkova . Not only personalities, but the great river Volga too had inspired Malayalis to name their children - there were two of them, one from Thiruvananthapuram and the other from Palakkad.

However, the organisers are not happy with the response. According them, there must be nearly 450 people with Russian names in Kerala, but only 49 had registered and just 23 made it to the conference at `Moscow'. There are at least a dozen Stalins working in the traditional limeshell collection sector in Alappuzha itself, it was pointed out

Interestingly, there are at least t five Moscows in Kottayam district itself, most of them junctions that are CPI(M) or CITU strongholds. The Moscow at Madappally was rechristened so in 1957 to commemorate the victory of the first communist Government . Incidentally, this Moscow is represented by a BJP representative in the Madappally grama panchayat.

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