Next town was Sergei Passat. It is around two hours from Moscow and I drove in Muzaffar’s taxi to the town. It is a quiet town full of churches – ancient ones with priests wearing black robes offering prayers to Christ. I was in a happy mood and strolled along with Muzaffar with my GoPro camera. By now, he had also become an expert in taking pictures and videos.
I ventured into one of the cathedrals and asked Muzaffar to ask one of the priests to pray for my father’s soul. The priest who was old and had a long white beard refused as Muzaffar told him that I was a Hindu. He said that only prayers for Christians can be performed in the church. Muzaffar and I were both upset at this and Muzaffar said with some frustration in his voice “Ah Anuj, God is one. He is the ultimate. He is one for all of us. Why did the priest not let you pray for your father’s soul? You are as much a part of God as he is”. His words made sense to me and the priest’s rejection at doing prayers angered me. I was now feeling hungry and felt like having lunch. We had lamb chops with mashed potatoes and beer.
Moscow is a no smoking zone. You can only smoke in designated areas. I, unfortunately, did not heed this warning and started smoking in my room. Alas, I had to pay for it and was fined Rouble 5000 for my mistake.
On my way to the hotel, I bumped into some people from Mumbai who instantly recognised me as the Indian actor who acted with Shah Rukh Khan. They stopped over to exchange pleasantries. I was happy that so far away in a distant land, even a small time actor like me was recognised by people. I guess that is the power of Indian Cinema as even Russian people like Muzaffar are fans of Indian films and actors such as Amitabh Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty and Raj Kapoor.
The churches of Russia and its flea markets were my home now for a few days and I was loving every bit of it.