Part of the International conference on Maharashtra in September 2021 - Anagha Bhat Behere, SPPU, Pune
Annabhau Sathe, a noted Dalit activist and writer in Marathi travelled to the (then) Soviet Union in year 1961. Upon returning, he wrote a travelogue titled “Maza Russia cha Pravas” describing the Soviet state, as he saw it. The travelogue was unusual in many ways and enjoyed an iconic status in the genre of travelogues in Marathi. It is also a very important cultural and historical document as it offers glimpses of life in the (then) Soviet Union.
I translated the travelogue into Russian in 2019. While translating it into Russian I was struck by certain ideological and cultural exchanges that occurred between Annabhau, the (then) Bombay, especially its labour movement and how it drew ideological sustenance from the Russian and early Soviet literature, how Annabhau had reached the Soviet Union through translations of his works and how Annabhau’s travelogue about the Soviet Union in Marathi brought the Soviet Union closer to the Marathi reader.
Translating it into Russian, in my opinion becomes another turn in the back and forth movements and exchange of ideas, images and cultural artefacts. The country which was visited by Annabhau Sathe, namely the Soviet Union has disappeared today from the globe. When Annabhau Sathe visited the Soviet Union, the ordinary Marathi reader harboured a lot of misconceptions about the Soviet Union. Annabahu has tried to dispel them through his travelogue. A Russian citizen today may review them critically but s/he will have to concede to them in principal. Today the travelogue appears to be more interesting for the Russian reader, so as to assess, evaluate and measure up the image of Soviet Union in Annabhau’s travelogue with the lived through reality of Soviet Union.