Julians brev

Dear Lennart,

Happy New Year! Please accept my most sincere and very best wishes to you and Elisabeth. Thank you for your emails; and sorry for not responding for quite a while.

First of all, I am very and very glad that you are thinking about arranging a Gripenberg meeting in Moscow. I think the trip should really happen. As a kind of incentive I enclose a few photos of some still remaining Gripenberg sights in Moscow which I will be more than happy to take all of you around and talk much more about. Obviously, there will be also a lot more to see. When you have some idea about the timing as well as duration of the visit to Moscow I would make and send you a draft itinerary. The absolute must things to do would be a whole day tour of the Gripenberg-related places, another tour of the most famous sights of Moscow such as the Kremlin, Red Square, Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the highest point in the city on the top of Sparrow Hills above the Moskva River with the best panoramic view of Moscow from there.

As for the news updates, for the time being I have become a full-time lecturer in English in one of the Moscow universities, department of linguistics. The job requires a real lot of preparatory work to be done at home; however, for financial reasons, I have to be taking all available opportunities of doing free-lance translation and simultaneous interpreting assignments. Still, due to the current turbulent fluctuations, everybody has to be very economical; in particular, in the last year of 2015 I did not go anywhere out of Moscow for holidays.

The last Christmas and the New Year festive period was, unfortunately, quite difficult and sad to our Moscow family. On the 3rd of January died Antonina Kasatkina, my aunt and the wife of Edward Kasatkin, the oldest grandson of Nadezhda Kasatkina née Gripenberg. She was eighty five and for the last eighteen months had been developing oncological problems. The last days of her life were difficult, to say the least. Then we went through all the funeral proceedings.

The rest of us seem to be quite all right. When you come to Moscow you will have a chance to meet the Russian descendants of the Gripenbergs. Bertel while in Moscow in 2006 had a chance to meet quite a number of us. Now it is especially Edward’s and Antonina’s children and my cousins Vadim and Margarita who are very keen to meet you.

Finally, there is something I am really happy to share with you. You might remember that during one of my visits to either Helsingfors or Udebo I mentioned that one of my most favourite films I have ever seen is the Swedish production “Oxen” (1991) by Sven Nykvist, with Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann starring, however, not in the leading roles. You and Elisabeth said you had not seen it. I have seen it several times, first in London at a huge Scandinavian festival where the film grasped me straight away and enchanted for good. Recently, by chance, I discovered that now it is available on the internet. Although it does not have English subtitles, I remember the plot and dialogues quite well so that I enjoyed watching it in Swedish. I hope you will enjoy it, too. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_lG7y1sGyM

All the very best to you and Elisabeth as well as to Jaana. I hope she will come with the Gripenbergs to Moscow as well.

Most sincerely as ever,

J u l i a n