I went of St Petersburg with Kailash viswnani. There were a number of physicians in this group. We were staying in hotel Holliday inn, St Petersburg. It was the largest hotel I have seen. May be having more than thousand rooms. Our bus was to depart for morning tour and I went for the morning breakfast. The concierge told me it was on third floor. Or maybe I misunderstood what she said. Russians don’t speak that good English. I took a lift and kept walking on the third floor, traversing halls after hall, in the hope of finding vishvani. The last hall was a glass door room which you could enter by pressing the door knob but exit was by card. Perhaps to be used by hotel employees. I entered and the door closed. I was trapped in a vast hotel with no body in sight. I knew the bus was to depart. I panicked. The only way out was to break glass, but the penalty could be harsh. The room had glass windows and I could see passerby going on the street down below. I stood on the window and started making gestures that I am trapped. Many passed by. One gentleman approached the window and I could make him understand that I was trapped. He took all the trouble to enter the hotel and walk the vast distance to open the door. The door could be opened from outside by the knob and he asked me why I did not use the knob. In a rush I forgot to thank him.
The museum. The Hermitage.
Just don’t miss it. The best anywhere. This museum has gifts to Russian tsars from all the contemporary rulers of the world at that time. We kept on looking for any gift from India to the Russian Tsars, but could not find anything. The practice of sending perishables as gifts, should be done away. Our prime minister usually sends items like tea and coffee. Items which are long lasting and endurable must be send to the foreign countries, so that they are on display for posterity. Saint Petersburg is home to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world. Saint Petersburg , formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), is the second-largest city in Russia. The city is situated on the Neva River, at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea, with a population of roughly 5.4 million residents. It is the fourth-most populous city in Europe, the most populous city on the Baltic Sea, as well as the world’s northernmost city with over 1 million residents. As an important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it is governed as a federal city. The city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great on 27 May 1703 on the site of a captured Swedish fortress, and was named after apostle Saint Peter. There is a tall statue of him astride a horse. Saint Petersburg is historically and culturally associated with the birth of the Russian Empire and Russia’s entry into modern history as a European great power. It served as a capital of the Tsardom of Russia and the subsequent Russian Empire from 1713 to 1918 (being replaced by Moscow for a short period of time between 1728 and 1730). After the October Revolution in 1917, the Bolsheviks moved their government to Moscow. Saint Petersburg is known as the “Cultural Capital of Russia”, and received over 15 million tourists in 2018, and is considered an important economic, scientific, cultural, and tourism centre of Russia and Europe. In modern times, the city has the nickname of the “Northern Capital” and serves as a home to some federal government bodies such as the Constitutional Court of Russia and the Heraldic Council of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also a seat for the National Library of Russia and a planned location for the Supreme Court of Russia, as well as the home to the headquarters of the Russian Navy, and the Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Our lunch was arranged in a large hall with makeshift wobbly tables. Vishwani and others were sitting for lunch. There was that large Bisleri water bottle and on the wobbly surface , it started to tumble. I tried to catch it, but the bottle had very thin plastic and my grip on the bottle resulted in the water squirting out of the bottle on Vishwani the surrounding dinners. Again I forgot to say sorry.
Another remarkable thing in st Petersburg is the sophisticated underground metro stations, with great paintings, statues and glittering chandeliers. Built as a protection in times of nuclear war, these metro stations are the tubes through which the city pulsates. The exterior on the surface looks calm and quiet.