ROSATOM INTERNATIONAL FISHING TOURNAMENT 2022 & RUSSIAN HOSPITALITY

It was a calm and serene morning in the Gulf of Finland. The clouds were fading away. The morning sun was radiating from the east. A gentle breeze was blowing. It was a perfect day for fishing.

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The Russian Dream

During the 80s, when I was a student in elementary school, my father used to bring a magazine called Udayan. It was a Bengali magazine printed in Moscow. For a little village boy, this magazine was a great source of knowledge about the then USSR. Besides, my family had a library with a few thousand books.

In the late 80s and the early 90s, I got acquainted with many prominent Russian novelists like Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alaxander Pushkin, Nikolai Ostrovsky, and many more. I knew about Yuri Gagarin and Valentina Tereshkova- the first man and woman in space in my school. All these paved my dream to visit the great nation of Russia. Finally, this dream became a reality with the invitation to participate in an international fishing tournament organized by the Russian state-owned nuclear power authority, ROSATOM.

Moscow at Night
Moscow at Night

I happen to be an angler. I love to play with fishing rods and reels. I have been working since 2010 to introduce Bangladeshi game fishing to global anglers through my website anglinginbangladesh.com. Angling in Bangladesh is the oldest online platform in Bangladesh for avid anglers. It is not only an angling platform but a strong voice for the environment and wildlife protection, biodiversity, conservation, and of course, ethical or sensible angling practices. In 2019, I got the first call from the ROSATOM representatives in Bangladesh, who informed me about the international fishing tournament in which I could not participate due to a few of my personal issues. I sent two of the finest anglers from my organization to represent Bangladesh in that tournament.

The Selection

Then came the worldwide pandemic. The world became isolated because of the Covid’19 related situations. There had been no fishing tournaments by ROSATOM in 2020 and 2021. I suddenly got a phone call from a ROSATOM representative in June 2022, who asked me if I wanted to participate in the coming international fishing tournament.

After a long and hectic selection process from a long list of potential anglers, ROSATOM finally selected my team to represent Bangladesh in this tournament. It is a great honor for any person to represent his own country in any international event. But only a true angler would know what it means to participate in an international angling event and to compete in a tournament of pro-anglers league format. It was like a dream come true for me as the host country was none other than Russia, which I had been envisaging visiting since childhood.

Finally, ROSATOM declared the nominated names of two anglers and two media personnel. We were honored with complementary visas, round-trip air tickets, five-star accommodations and food, and all the allied travel expenses by ROSATOM authorities.

The Journey Begins

We started our journey on September 4, 2022, from the Dhaka International Airport. We had a layover of over 8 hours in Dubai. The Indian team along with two ROSATOM officials arrived in a short time. The atmosphere changed as soon as we met our Indian colleagues. While we were having breakfast at Dubai airport, it seemed like a grand get-together of friends. Both the Bangladeshi and Indian teams flew together to Moscow.

Our aircraft landed at Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow at 16:30 local time. It is one of the five international airports in Moscow. We took snacks at the airport before getting on a Saint Petersburg-bound flight. The Sukhoi Superjet took only an hour to take us to the iconic city of Saint Petersburg. It took us another one-hour ride to reach our final destination, the town of Sosnovy Bor.

The First Night in Russia

When we reached Sosnovy Bor, it was late. ROSATOM booked our rooms in the best hotel in town, Hotel Sosnovy Bor. The ROSATOM representatives handed over our keys and instructed us not to come out of our rooms until Covid’19 tests were done. We would be taken to the local community hospital the next morning for diagnostics. Our food would be served in our rooms by the hotel staff.

Sosnovy Bor Hotel is in the centre of the small town of Sosnovy Bor in Leningrad Oblast in Russia. It was established to provide business and official travellers with a comfortable stay in the city centre. It is worth mentioning that Sosnovy Bor is an important city with a huge strategic value in Russian Federation. Special permits are mandatory for non-resident travelers to visit this town.

I got a spacious room on the seventh floor of the hotel. I was surprised to experience the cleanliness of the room. Moreover, the room was a front-facing one. There was a small veranda where I could sit and gaze at the beautiful city of Sosnovy Bor. The beds and linens were crispy-clean and comfortable.

I was on a journey for almost twenty-four hours. I was tired and needed a nice shower and rest. The spacious bathroom was equipped with all modern appliances and toiletries. I was feeling fresh and rejuvenated after taking a long and luxurious warm shower. I lay on the bed and switched on the TV. The outside temperature was 3 degree Celsius, but inside, it was warm and comfortable with a central heating system. Later, on a different occasion, I came to know that the heating system of the whole Sosnovy Bor was provided by the steams generated by the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, the longest-serving NPP in the Russian Federation and one of the largest in the world.

I did not know when my eyes got closed, and I was fallen asleep. I woke up to the sound of a gentle knock on the door. As I opened the door, I was greeted with a beautiful smile by one of the hotel staff. She asked me if everything was alright and handed me a bag full of small packs and bottles and other kinds of stuff inside. Dinner had been served.

It was a three-course Russian dinner which was impossible for any healthy person to finish. Traditional Russian salad with salmon fillet as an appetizer, two types of bread with steamed chicken cooked with cheese, butter, and Russian herbs, and porridge as the main dish, then delicious pastry as the dessert. Carbonated orange juice and bottled water were served to drink. It was my first experience with a full-fledged Russian dinner, and it was outstanding. In the next few days, I would be introduced to more Russian foods, and eventually, I’d be fallen in love with Russian cuisine.

Sosnovy Bor, the City I Will Always Want to Be

Mornings in Sosnovy Bor are vivid, colorful, and romantic. The gentle breeze from the Gulf of Finland, mixed with the sweet aroma of the surrounding pine forests would give you a morning kiss if you are a little adventurous to open your window. The northern sky is like a pastoral maiden’s mind. You would never know how it would come up the next morning.

We had to wake up and get ready by 8:00 A.M. We were instructed not to take any food or drink before the samples for the Covid’19 test were taken. A bus came in to take us to the community hospital. The ride to and from the hospital was my first opportunity to have a look at the town of 70,000 people.

It is nothing like a mega city at all. This small town is famous for its calm and quiet ambience, clean wide roads, floral walkways, and of course, friendly and beautiful people. Apple trees filled with fruits were very frequent. Summer blooms were everywhere. To me, it was love at first sight with Sosnovy Bor. It didn’t take long to do our business in the community hospital. The lady who took swabs from my nose and throat was very kind and gentle.

Breakfast was served as soon as we returned to our hotel rooms. Typical Russian breakfast indeed. Rice cooked with milk and carrots, egg-white omelets with tomatoes, three types of bread, porridge, borscht, jam, butterscotch sauce, and orange juice. Again, it will never be possible for any person to finish the amount of food I was served. By the way, it was the best borscht I have ever had.

We were having a tense time in the hotel room. All of us were hoping for negative Covid reports. We had nothing to do until the Covid test reports were coming out. Lunch was delivered to the room. Again it was no less than a three-course meal. Russian salad with smoked ocean trout as an appetizer, mashed potato with lamb and bread as the main dish, and borscht with fresh yoghurt were to finish the meal.

The news came out that all participants, journalists, and ROSATOM officials from Bangladesh and India were Covid-free, and we were cleared to move around freely without any problem. We rushed to the hotel lobby and greeted each other. It was a joyous moment for everyone.

From this moment, we were free to do anything in Sosnovy Bor. We were free to roam around or go to a mall or have a city walk. It was feeling like getting back our long-lost freedom. The officials of ROSATOM South Asia proposed to go for a walk, and we joyfully agreed to it.

This time I was able to have direct interactions with the local inhabitants. I could see directly into their eyes, shake their hands and even talk to them. In the age of technological triumph, linguistic difference is not a problem at all. All you need to do is to approach with an open mind.

I had some unique experiences with the inhabitants of Sosnovy Bor. They live a highly disciplined life. They are happy, confident, educated, and easy-going. Social values and norms are well preserved and well practised. They are friendly and very helpful. I saw many central Asian and CIS nationals in this town. Most of them are in business and service-oriented professions. ROSATOM has done some tremendous things for the development of this small town. They have built schools, playgrounds, gymnasiums, roads, walkways, gardens, and parks for the local community. 

The township of Sosnovy Bor is an extension of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. The lives of the inhabitants of Sosnovy Bor are somehow related to the nuclear power industry. The living standard in Sosnovy Bor seemed far better than that of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I didn’t see a single drunkard person during my short stay in Sosnovy Bor. Keeping a city clean and beautiful is a collective effort of inhabitants as well as the local authorities. This beautiful town can be a true role model of modern urbanization, industrialization, and the preservation of nature.

Time was passing away very fast and we had to get back to our hotel. Because everything runs with time in small distant towns like Sosnovy Bor. Besides, no one would be there to serve your dinner on a bitter-cold night if you are too late.

That was for the first time when we had an actual Russian meal in a restaurant. It is situated right on the ground floor of the hotel. It is not that big, but it is a decent and clean restaurant with very comfortable seating arrangements. When we entered the restaurant we saw competitors, journalists, and ROSATOM officials having their meals in groups. Sosnovy Bor hotel was allocated for guests from Bangladesh, India, Hungary, South Africa, and Uzbekistan. So, the atmosphere inside the restaurant was quite international. The global angling community is like one big family. So, to anglers, this dinner was like a great reunion of long-lost family members. And, it doesn’t take too long for anglers to make friends. For dinner, we had traditional Russian salad, beluga fillet with baked eggplant, mushrooms, capsicums, traditional Russian bread, and carbonated lemon juice.

We were taken for another city walk after dinner. We went to a small super shop operated by an Uzbek family. When we were coming out of the super shop, we met Islam, a ten-year-old boy. The super shop belongs to his family. He came out and requested a photo. I asked him (of course with the help of our ROSATOM official) if he knew Bangladesh. He said, “of course, it’s beside India”. To me, it was nothing less than a proud moment. A little Uzbek boy, living in one of the farthest corners of Russia knows about Bangladesh, I cannot imagine a more proud moment in my life.

A Visit to the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

The next day was quite a hectic day to say. We started at 7:00 A.M. wearing the outfits provided by ROSATOM. The day was divided into three segments for the participants of the fishing tournament. First, a conference in the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant known as LNPP, then a training session of four hours in the Gulf of Finland followed by a detailed tour of the LNPP. 

The Conference
The Conference

We started very early in the morning. Breakfast was served on a buffet. Different types of bread, salads, chicken fries, milk, butter, porridge, baked potato, yoghurt, cranberry juice, fruits, and many more items were in place for the guests to fill themselves up. What I was experiencing was simply the extravaganza of Russian hospitality, and it was not over yet.

We went to the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant after breakfast. It was on the periphery of the city of Sosnovy Bor. After completing all the security procedures, we entered the conference room. High-level ROSATOM officials presided over the conference. The conference started with a demonstration of all the technical features of the LNPP followed by a wonderful presentation about the technological achievements of ROSATOM in the field of power generation. It was wonderful to know that ROSATOM does not work only in the field of power generation, but also in medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, engineering, and many other fields of technology. A good part of the presentation was about the VVER-1200 reactors, which Bangladesh is implementing in the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant
At Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

The VVER-1200 reactor is one of the most sophisticated state-of-the-art reactors in the modern world. It is considered the most fuel-efficient nuclear reactor at present. The reactor has a capacity of generating about 1200 MWe of power at its optimal level. VVER-1200 reactors come up with the most sophisticated safety features in the world. It has several layers of safety barriers to protect the surroundings. It has the enduring capacity of even a missile attack or an aircraft crash on it.

The third part of the presentation was about how the township of Sosnovy Bor developed with the LNPP as its core factor of existence. We observed how ROSATOM authorities in collaboration with the local population were continuously working to develop the living standard of the inhabitants of Sosnovy Bor. They are doing everything to protect and preserve the surrounding environment. The fundamental message of the presentation was to demonstrate that it is possible to establish a nuclear power plant and keep it operational for decades without disrupting the environmental and ecological balances, and preserving every bit of it intact.

The presentation was followed by a Q&A session. At the end of the conference, I was convinced that Bangladesh is in good hands regarding its implementation of the nuclear power plant at Rooppur.

Later that day, I, along with other competitors of the international fishing tournament had a rare visit to the power generation facilities of the LNPP. We saw every single operation with enormous details about how a nuclear power plant generates electricity. Not many people in the world have the opportunity to enter the premises of a fully operational nuclear power plant, let alone visit the core, the massive turbines, and its command and control centre. 

The Essential Training before the Competition

It was before midday when we were taken to the Gorodskoy Pier, the venue of the Rosatom International Fishing Tournament 2022. The scenic beauty of the area cannot be put into words. No human language is enough to describe it. Only a soulful mind would feel that even a small stone beside the road is significantly adding to the beauty of the area. The pine forest through the coastline of the Gulf of Finland has embraced the horizon far far away. Birds in hundreds were flying over our heads very frequently. The giant cooling towers of the LNPP were creating a cloud of steam a couple of kilometers away. Everything was radiating an intense feeling of serenity everywhere. The morning breeze of the Gulf of Finland welcomed us with a gentle and misty touch.

The Training Session
The Training Session

The tournament was divided into two segments. The first day had a four-hour session. In this session, we were introduced to the rules and regulations of the tournament. The most exciting part of this session was getting to know some of the finest anglers in Russia. Meeting Vladimir Inozemtsev, the two-time world champion and the four-time national champion was a rare honour. He was the head of the judges in this tournament. He is currently working as the head coach of the Russian National Team.

We were numbered Team 12, and our captain was Nikolai Yasinsky, the 2022 Pro Anglers League champion. Nikolai is a great person with a constant smile on his face. Anyone would start to like him within five minutes of meeting him. After initial briefings, we got on the boat. I was having a huge adrenaline rush and it cannot be compared with anything else. Nikolai took the boat at the starting position, and as soon as the whistle was blown the Gulf of Finland turned into a complete battleground. We were flying over the water. Thirteen boats were running over the heavy waves at a speed of at least 100 kilometers per hour for taking the best fishing position. It was a hell of a scene.

In a few minutes, we came the very close proximity to the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant. Here the temperature of the water was about 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, warmer than any other place in the Gulf of Finland. Warm water from the LNPP mixes here with the cold water of the Gulf. There is always a higher possibility of finding fish in warmer water than in cold water. After putting down the balancer, Nikolai became busy with the electronics, the high-tech modules of geo-location, sonar and fish-finders. It was a great opportunity for us to know how to use these devices for having a clear picture of underwater terrains, and for finding schools of fish.

Nikolai put a mark on the screen of the sonar and told us to cast around that spot. We took the rods and started casting in that direction. Initially, we were using soft plastic baits coupled with a knocker rig for bottom fishing. The bottom was rocky and full of vegetation. I was feeling the big and small underwater rocks while jigging. It was very cold and windy in the Gulf of Finland. It was very hard to stand firm on the boat because of the heavy waves in the sea. We were struggling to keep our balance. After half an hour of unsuccessful jigging, we changed our spot. We got closer to the shoreline where rocks were very much visible. For us, it was a new way of fishing. On the other hand, it was very challenging as well. No one in Bangladesh practices this kind of fishing. To be frank, we do not have enough opportunities to practice European-style Boat Spinning Fishing in our country.

After nearly an hour of continuous trying, we changed our position again. We lost a few lures in the meantime as it was a very rocky bottom. Our inexperience to fish in this kind of water was another important reason for losing the lures. Our captain finally managed to land a fish in a while. It was a small perch. But we were very happy with the catch. We could understand that the place was not barren at all. Only the weather and the heavy waves were not on our side.

The weather was getting rougher. We were feeling a sudden drop in temperature. We did not want to get sick before the tournament. We wanted to stay fully fit for the next day’s big event. So, we decided to come back and try to catch something near the pier. We tried to learn as much technical know-how as possible from Nikolai. I must say that he was a great teacher. He taught us as many technical details as possible in a short session like this and he taught us very passionately and with great care.

We were in the water for another hour. We almost caught a fish near the pier. With a temperature of seven degree Celsius and a Northern wind of 30 kilometers per hour, Gorodskoy Pier was feeling like a deep freezer. We were shaking when the training session ended.

We were taken straight to the Hevaa restaurant of the resort Territoriya Otdykha Khevaa. It is the most beautiful resort I’ve ever seen. The dome-shaped greenhouse restaurants were very innovative. Entering the restaurant we rushed to the fireplace made with glass and natural gas. Arunabha and Santosh of the Indian Team came in. They were in the same situation with the cold. We were served slices of homemade bread, borscht, an appetizer made of wheat, lentils, gritted tomatoes and onions. The main course was Uzbek Lamb Plav. Everyone enjoyed their meals with great pleasure.

The training session was followed by a detailed tour of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant which I have already elaborated on. It was quite a long hectic day. But we enjoyed every bit of it.

We returned to the hotel when it was already dark. We had an early dinner and after dinner, all the participants from the South Asian region along with ROSATOM South Asia officials had a tremendous chat in my room. Everybody opened up naturally. We discussed, we argued we agreed upon many topics. Time passed by very quickly. Suddenly we discovered that it became very late and we had a big tournament the next day. So everybody went back to their rooms for taking some rest. 

The Competition

I woke up at 6:00 A.M. on the day of the competition. The dawn sky was gloomy, and the temperature was very low. It gave me a mixed feeling of fear as well as determination. Last day I experienced how challenging fishing in the Gulf of Finland could be. I expected the situation would be worse on the day of the competition. I called Miraz, my teammate after a while. It was a nervous moment that I was going through. Time seemed to be passing very slowly. I decided to take a warm shower. After the shower, slowly I got ready, put on my clothes, checked my backpack, and took my gear and devices. I said to myself, “I am ready”. All of a sudden I was having a feeling of profoundness and all the negative emotions like nervousness or feeling shaky were gone. I felt I was ready.

PARTICIPANTS AND ROSATOM OFFICIALS
PARTICIPANTS AND ROSATOM OFFICIALS

I went to the restaurant. It was almost empty. There were only a few journalists from Uzbekistan. I took a coffee and thought of the tournament. Soon everybody came in and we took our breakfast almost silently. The atmosphere was a bit tense. The bus came in and we all jumped in. It was a calm and serene morning in the Gulf of Finland. The clouds were fading away. The morning sun was radiating from the east. A gentle breeze was blowing. It was a perfect day for fishing.

There was a photo session before the tournament. A stage was set for the photo session. All the competitors and ROSATOM officials took part in the photo session. It was a happy moment in the Gorodskoy Pier. The match referee told everyone to get ready. 

The format of the tournament was straightforward. There were two sessions. Each session consisted of four hours and there was a lunch break of one hour in between. 

Slowly the competitors got on their corresponding boats. The captains took their positions. The whistle blew. And the Gulf of Finland turned into a battleground. Thirteen boats were running with their maximum horsepower for taking the best fishing position near the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant where the water was warmer. Nikolai took our boat a few kilometers farther from the power plant. It was very close to a dense pine forest. The water was calm and it seemed like a promising spot. We tried to catch something for an hour but failed. Nikolai suggested changing the spot. And we went to another position. We failed to catch anything there as well. 

More than two hours had already gone and we caught no fish. We had very little time before the end of the first session. We were experiencing a sudden drop in temperature and the wind was getting stronger. Miraz was struggling with the cold. He was shaking. His hands become very cold. Both Nikolai and I gave him our gloves. I told him to leave the rod and to sit down. Initially, he was reluctant but after telling him strongly he sat down.

I told Nikolai to go close to the pier. Because I was a little worried about the condition of Miraz. We went close to the pier and tried to catch something. Miraz also tried. I didn’t notice but suddenly I discovered that water was coming out of his nose and eyes. He was trembling in cold. I told Nikolai to take the boat to the pier. As a seasoned captain, Nikolai understood my cell. We got off the boat and instantly took Miraz to the fireplace of the Hevaa restaurant. Soon the whole South Asian team including the Rosatom officials and journalists joined us. 

We found out that no other team except the Egyptians was able to catch a fish. It was an unsuccessful session for almost every team in the tournament. We finished our lunch almost silently. Everyone was feeling the pressure. Not every team would stand first second or third. But not being able to catch a single fish was a big prestigious issue. Besides, I was really worried about Miraz. He was my responsibility. His well-being was also my responsibility. So, I told him gently, “Miraz, to me as well as to the organizers of this tournament, safety is the utmost priority. You went to the sea with me and I know you tried your level best. I am really proud of you. But, now I request you to think again. If you think you will not sustain the cold and the wind over there. You can stay. There’s no shame at all.” Everybody including the Rosatom officials supported me. 

He said he was completely fit for the second session. We tried to convince him for some time, but he was determined.

We came out of the restaurant and without any delay got on the boat. I told Nikolai, “Do whatever is necessary, go wherever you want to go, but we need to catch fish”. He said, “Let’s try”.

We went somewhere in between the pier and the nuclear power plant but to deeper water. He became busy with the electronics and took the boat at a certain point and put the balancer down. He marked a point on the screen of the sonar and said, “Let’s try over there”. Without any delay, we started casting. Time was not in our favor. More than half an hour of the second session had already passed away.

Nikolai changed his setup. This time he put a small set of hooks and lures. We were jigging with the fullest concentration. There was no sound from the other teams. What we were hearing was only the sound of the waves and the blowing of the heavy wind. We didn’t know how long we were casting there. Nikolai broke the silence with his gentle voice, “Guys, I think I’ve got something!”. He was still retrieving his line. It seemed to me that I was passing the longest moments of my life. Nikolai landed it successfully. It was a little perch. But, it was the most desired fish in my life.

Nikolai suggested changing my hook setup as well and without any delay, I made the changes. Again, silence grabbed us. Suddenly I got a very gentle bite. It was very mild, but I stroke. I retrieved the line. It was empty. Nikolai said, “Don’t strike back and retrieve very slowly. These are very small fish here”. I started casting. And after a few casting, I got the bite again. Gently I retrieved the line and there was a fish. It was a different one but my first ever fish in the Gulf of Finland.

It was the beginning. We were having fish frequently afterwards. Finally, we managed to catch seventeen fish from a single spot in the Gulf of Finland. The time was almost over. I suggested going close to the pier. Nikolai said it was a good decision. So, we came back. We were eager to know about the outcomes of the Indian Team. When we came close to the pier we saw a lot of people standing by the railings of the pier. They were looking at the Indian Team. It was a very anxious situation. When we came close to their boat, I asked Arunabha, “What’s the matter? What have you done? Why are so many people looking at you?” He just replied with a mysterious smile. I understood what he meant. Seasoned anglers are somewhat like military personnel, they have a universal language to speak. This language doesn’t necessarily require words for someone to explain something.

We decided to get off the boat. We thanked Nikolai for everything he did for us. We had a great time together in the Gulf of Finland. The time that I spent with him will remain in my memory forever. We took our fish in a bag and headed toward the judges. We saw team India following us. The judges took the bag from my hand. The initial weight of seventeen fish was a little above 500 grams. The judges took the biggest ten from them. And it weighed 395 grams. The Indian caught 3 pikes and 4 perches. The total weight of their catches was close to 1500 grams. They also managed to catch the largest fish in the tournament which was a pike that weighed a little more than 500 grams.

There was a group of scientists and biologists who then took our fish and tested them thoroughly. They measured the radiation level of the fish. Then the biologists took some random samples and checked their weights, lengths and other experiments in front of us. We found fish that we caught were in good health and the level of radiation was minimal. The fish were in good condition. Their weight-length ratios were absolutely normal. Most of the fish were released back to the sea after scientific experiments. A small quantity of fish was kept and handed over to the head chef of the Hevaa restaurant for preparing soup for everyone. It is a tradition in Russia to serve the fisherman with the fish he catches.

The Prize Giving Ceremony

The sun was setting in the Gulf of Finland. The sea became mysteriously beautiful with the last rays of light of the sun. Birds were returning to their nests in the pine forests. Human existence seemed quite insignificant in front of such intense beauty.

We were requested to go to the community hall. It was beyond our wildest imagination. The hall was decorated for the prize ceremony. Musical instruments were placed. Tables with loads of food were set. We took our seats. Everyone was in a festive mood.

It was a grand celebration, to be honest. The declaration of the winners was yet to come. Top ROSATOM and the LNPP officials were present in the ceremony. The keynote speakers made their remarks about the competition. Then came the desired moment. The match referee came in and declared Uzbekistan for the prize of ‘Determination to Win’ and Russia and Egypt jointly as the runner-ups. Then he declared the champions. It was none other than Team India. It was a glorious moment for Team India as well as ROSATOM South Asia. There was another declaration still to be made. The biggest catch of the tournament. Arunabha of Team India secured the position with a pike weighing around 500 grams. All the participants of the tournament were presented with a zirconium plate and a photo frame containing all the competitors, Rosatom officials, and other delegates. Thus ended the prize ceremony of the Rosatom International Fishing Tournament 2022.

The Gala Night

The celebration started with the performance of Russian folk music by a group of local artists. Soon the atmosphere became electrifying. I was wondering how the singers hit the most critical notes flawlessly. They were singing and dancing simultaneously. Various Russian musical instruments were used in the program. The most stunning of all of them was the famous Russian folk song “Kalinka”. Traditional Russian instruments like the balalaika, bayan and Ozark harp were used in it. An instrumental composition of Armenian duduk and Russian gudok was heart-touching.

Russian folk music evolved over thousands of years. It has been enriched by various cultures of different tribes and ethnicities. The Russian population is comprised of more than fifty ethnic groups. Each group has a variety of subgroups. Each subgroup has its own unique culture and traditions. And music is an integral part of almost every Russian ethnic group. From the western Russian mainland to Tatarstan, from the Siberian heartland to Chechnya, from the upper Volga to the northern Arctic circle to Kamchatka, you can define the ethnicity of Russian people with their traditional music. World music owes in many ways to Russian folk music. Music plays a very important role in the Russian lifestyle as well. If you walk through the suburbs of Moscow and Saint Petersburg or any other Russian cities, you will hear music everywhere. As a music lover, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to enjoy a live performance of traditional Russian music.

Time passed away quickly and it became late. The director of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant concluded the ceremony by thanking the participants, the journalists, ROSATOM officials and everyone for makings the tournament successful. Thus ended the ROSATOM International Fishing Tournament 2022.

The Epilogue

Russia is a proven friend of Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh will never forget how Russia helped during our liberation war in 1971. Russia helped tremendously in the reconstruction of post-liberation war torn Bangladesh. Being invited to participate in a tournament in Russia was like being invited by a friend. And as a guest, I was treated with the highest level of Russian hospitality throughout my stay in Russia. We were kept in the best hotels and were provided with the best Russian food. 

I think both Bangladesh and Russia should come forward to strengthen their bilateral relations and facilitate more opportunities of people to people interactions in terms of trade, cultural exchange, education and tourism. Both nations have lots to offer each other. The opportunities are enormous and it is the perfect time to work on them. 

The representatives of ROSATOM South Asia whom I came across during my visit to Russia are the smartest people I have ever met. They were unbelievably helpful. This event would never be possible without their active support and supervision. The way they took care of us was unparallel. For significant reasons I can’t mention their names, but they have owned a permanent place in my heart and they will be there forever. 

I came across many tremendous people in the streets of Sosnovy Bor, on Gorodskoy Pier, in the suburbs of Saint Petersburg and in downtown Moscow. Most of them were young, energetic and visionary people with great love for their motherland, Russia. They were educated and ready for facing any kind of challenge. Russia is rising to its prominence. And as long as there are youths like the ones I met, it’s just a matter of time. No external force has the capacity of stopping this. I think most of the twenty-first century is going to be the Russian century.

It’s not enough to thank ROSATOM for organizing this wonderful event as well as for selecting me to represent my country. I have been in love with Russia since my childhood. This tour has just intensified my thirst of visiting this great nation again and again.

I want to go fishing in the lake Baikal. I want to go to Kamchatka and chase the great Pacific salmon with flies. I dream of having a horse ride with the nomads of the Siberian heartland. I want to spend a few nights with the reindeer herders of northern Russia and know the unique culture of the Nenet people. I want to completely be lost in the insane beauty of the Caucasus mountain range. I want to have a journey on the Trans Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok. I want to have a long walk through the streets of Saint Petersburg to try to understand the cravings of Peter the Great. I know one life is not enough for knowing a country as vast as Russia. But still, a dream is a dream.

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