Monday, 20 June 2011

From Russia, with love...


Just returned, and my head is still spinning with a kaleidoscope of images from St Petersburg and Moscow. The white nights, Picasso and Rembrandt in the Hermitage, the reflections on the dark river; Cartier directly opposite Lenin's mausoleum in Red Square, the ancient icons within the Kremlin, the Faberge eggs and Imperial jewels in the Armoury; the seven towers that Stalin built, looming like Gotham City; the Madonnas and angels and other winged creatures that have survived, against so many threats...
But above all, the people: I met with such kindness and warmth, and felt the tug of threads that I had never known before; the curve of cheekbones that contained within them the lost faces of my Russian grandparents.
All of these just blurred snapshots, I know; impossible to do more than glimpse the tiniest fraction of such a vast nation, so many centuries of turbulence and tragedy and triumph... It seems presumptuous even to try, but still, I want to thank everyone who took the trouble to talk to me, and share their ideas and conversation, including the six-year-old boy who came to his first bookshop signing in Moscow, and sat through the hot evening, listening to a foreigner.
Now past midnight, and time for bed, at the end of my birthday. But instead of feeling my age, I am overcome with the wonderment of discovery, and of knowing how much more I want to know, and to explore...

8 comments:

Gondal-girl said...

happy birthday Justine - your day and trip sound amazing, I can here the glimmers of your new idea perhaps? Look forward to hearing more x

kairu said...

A very happiest of birthdays, Justine!

I am glad to hear that you had a lovely trip. I'll be in Russia next month; I can hardly wait. It's been 12 years since my last trip and 18 since my first one, and everything will be so different to my 31-year-old eyes than it had been at nearly 19, or 13. The nights will still be white, and Sparrow Hills will still have its eternal view over the city of Moscow. I'll walk along the canals as I did in my dreams...

vadim said...

Dear Justine,
I am so happy I had a chance to meet you in Moscow! I am so greatful to my friends in Chanel for inviting me to help you with interpreting for your radio interview.
You are such a wonderful person! You bring such a a strong yet delicate impulse of light, love, and kindness.
You have written a great book! Not only it is a result of a very deep research, it is written with such love and passion - unlike most books dedicated to your most contravercial heroine.
I know for sure I am going to enjoy reading "Daphne"!
I hope it was not your last visit to Russia.
My best wishes and happy birthday!
Vadim (kurilov@8-com.ru)

Justine Picardie said...

Vadim, thank you so much for getting in touch; I couldn't have done the radio interview without your brilliant interpretation. I wish I did speak Russian, but thanks to you, the great divide was bridged.
Gondal-girl: yes, with your characteristic perceptiveness, you have guessed the glimmers of a new idea.
Kairu: I'm so glad to hear that you'll be in Russia next month. Do you have friends there? Vadim can tell you everything about Moscow, and beyond!

Love Bakery said...

Best wishes on your birthday, Justine. I have always been fascinated by Russia but have yet to make the trip. Hope that you are well and your head is still twirling with everything Russian x

Viola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viola said...

Hi Justine,i am so glad you enjoyed your trip to Russia (my grandparents came here from Russia to the East End of London in the early 1900s)i have read all of your books and since reading"If The Spirit Moves You"i have felt that although my husband is an ordained priest in theChurch Of England"he is very interested in the afterlife and spirituality,he has a monthly service on a sun eve called Soul Space which i fell would be of interest to you,his church is in Hertford Herts(about 30mins on the train from London)if you were interested,oh and a very happy belated birthday!! x

Marian Bendeth said...

Dear Justine,
I would very much like to share with you my experience at 31 rue Cambon as it was unusual to say the least and involves key points in your wonderful book.

Would you be so kind as to contact me at: SixthSen@aol.com

Many thanks,
Marian Bendeth
Global Fragrance Expert
Sixth Scents