Khrushchevs meet Lenins

October 25, 2005

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MOSCOW: When Khrushchev met Lenin for the first time in Moscow, they discussed the dark clouds looming on the horizon. It was not politics that concerned them, but the weather.

The two South Indians with Russian names feared a spell of rain might mar the weekend annual meeting of people with Russian names in Moscow, a sleepy village in the traditionally left-leaning southern state of Kerala.

Once known as Madappally, the heavily communist village enclave, about 160 kilometres northeast of the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, was christened Moscow in 1957 to mark the democratic election of the first left government in the state.

“Keralan communists named their children after Soviet Union leaders to show their involvement with the political philosophy,” explained Ratheesh Nair, director of the Russian Cultural Centre in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram, which organized the meeting.

Nair said that around 500 people in Kerala have Russian surnames as their only name. About 28 of them attended the meeting, which is taking place for a second time.

Among them were six Lenins, three Pushkins and two Pravdas.

Brezhnev, Dimitrov, Eleena, Anasthasia, Tania, Natasha and Tereshkova travelled from different parts of the state to meet each other. The meeting revealed that Keralites have fascination not only for Russian personalities, but for Russia’s great river, with two Volgas present. One of the Lenins won a round-trip air ticket to Moscow — in Russia — from Qatar Airways.

A 49-year-old Pushkin from the state capital who writes poetry and paints said he was trying to emulate the great Russian writer.

But the fancy for Russian names is no longer as common in Kerala as it used to be, with the state, like the nation, drifting right.—AFP