So here I am, in Russia's second largest city, Saint Petersburg, on Nevsky Prospekt, arguably the most famous street in all of Russia, chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. To give you some idea of the history of Nevsky Prospekt, there are only six buildings on the whole of the street that were built during the last century!
This is the same street that was immortalized by Fyodor Dostoevsky in Notes From Underground, and remembered so fondly by Dr. Startchenko and the examining magistrate, Lyzhin, in Anton Chekhov's On Official Duty.
Down the long street our nagar-sankirtan party marches, over the Fontanka river, across the handsome Anichkov Most bridge with its four famous life-sized bronze sculptures of men taming wild horses on each corner, all the way to the Alexandrine Pillar, towering one hundred feet above the panoramic Palace Square.
Chanting in front of the Winter Palace, you cannot but be filled with a sense of history: eighty-six years ago, the revolutionary armed workers of Petrograd marched down this same Nevsky Prospekt and filled this square in front of the palace, precipitating the world's first socialist revolution.
Here we are, singing the names of God, trying to foment another revolution — in the consciousness of the Sunday afternoon crowd. Tourists smile; pedestrians gape; soldiers stare; an old babushka crosses herself :-)
On the way back, we meet an Iskcon sankirtan party going the other way — a double whammy! It starts to snow ever so slightly, almost like a light drizzle, as we head for the parked cars and back to our temple in Lakhta.
It is very cold; I have on my warm coat with the hood, but my nose is freezing. I hope there's a steaming pot of borscht waiting for us back at the temple!