I well remember on 13 January when the Russian Embassy was lit up welcoming guests for the annual masquerade party, Ambassador Alexander Kadakin met warmly with a handshake and a smile on his face at the entrance of the ballroom. Little did I know that this was my last handshake with the ‘Russian friend of India.’
I found it strange that this year he did not mingle with the crowd for the celebrations. I spoke to my colleague that the Ambassador was conspicuous by his absence.
And then, one evening, while watching news on television saw a news clip saying the Russian Ambassador to India is no more. It was unbelievable for me. First I discarded it as a mistake, but the next morning newspapers carried the sad story of Ambassador Alexander Kadakin’s demise.
Shocked at the news I immediately called up my colleague to inform her of the sad news.
Ambassador Kadakin breathed his last on 26 January in New Delhi. At 67, he died of cardiac arrest. For several years, he relentlessly worked to strengthen India-Russia relationship. What a tragedy that the man who promoted Russia-India bilateral ties with such vigour died in the year the two countries also celebrate 70 years of their diplomatic relationship.
In a befitting tribute to its most successful diplomat, Alexander Kadakin, the Russian Government has dedicated a room in the New Delhi Embassy to house a Memorial Museum in memory of the man serving in India since 2009. He had first come to India in August 1971 as a probationer diplomat in the Embassy. His first posting as an ambassador to India was from 1999 to 2004 and the second one began in 2009. The Ambassador who often said he was “half-Indian.”
Watching Republic Day clips a day later, the missiles and the fly past reminded me of Ambassador Kadakin who would appear dressed up on occasions with full medals and honours tucked on his coat. The last I saw of him was a blue chequered coat that he wore on the annual masquerade party and had welcomed me into the hall with a smile on face mixed with admiration for my disguise as a pauper.
Now each time I drive past Shanti Path based Russian Embassy, I think of Ambassador Kadakin. I think of him welcoming guests at the gates of the Ballroom of the Embassy, but the cruel hands of time have snatched him away. He will no longer be there, but his memories will live till eternity.