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Delhiwale: Happy Birthday, Mandi House’s forgotten Russian

Drop by today at this majestic bronze statue of Alexander Pushkin with some flowers

delhi Updated: Jun 06, 2017 13:08 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Today is Alexander Pushkin’s birthday. His bronze statue stands high on one side of central Delhi’s Mandi House square.
Today is Alexander Pushkin’s birthday. His bronze statue stands high on one side of central Delhi’s Mandi House square.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

His coat buttons are open, his hands are crossed behind his back and his face is turned towards the Nepal embassy. But his clothes are splattered with bird droppings.

Today is Alexander Pushkin’s birthday. His bronze statue stands high on one side of central Delhi’s Mandi House square. Unless you are looking for it, you will not be able to spot it.

Pushkin died in 1837. Almost 150 years later, he became responsible for the success of a Delhi writer — Vikram Seth’s first novel The Golden Gate was written in verse, after Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.

The back of the statue’s pedestal has a few crudely etched Russian words along with the number ‘1988’. Was this the year Pushkin was installed here?

A quick Google search reveals that the statue was unveiled during Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev’s three-day visit in November, 1988. A statue of Lenin, too, was unveiled during the same trip in Nehru Park. The erstwhile USSR is history, and Lenin’s theories seem to find few takers today. But Pushkin lives on in the hearts of all those who love good storytelling. If you are one of those, drop by today with some flowers.