Author: Valentina REZNIKOVA
Mikhail Solomonovich Gusman is a journalist, translator, radio and television host, First Deputy General Director of TASS, author of books Formula of Power and Formula of Life, Honoured Worker of Culture, Honoured Journalist, laureate of the State Prize of Russia, holder of state orders of Azerbaijan Shohrat, Dostlug and Sharaf, legendary man, idol of the young generation of Bakuvites, who know well that their countryman is a true patriot. He has proved both professionally and personally that there is nothing impossible if one knows how to set a goal and how to achieve it. Mikhail Gusman is a man whose opinion does matter, whose view on the essence of problems and things is interesting to many way beyond Baku. He is one of the few who knows how to tell the whole world the truth about Azerbaijan, the one not everyone knows about. That is where his formula of love for the Fatherland comes into play. This is the ability to tell the truth at the right time and in the right place. Yet one has to be gifted to convey the truth the way it is heard. Mikhail Solomonovich is gifted. They hear and believe him. Although he left Azerbaijan about thirty years ago, he did not break off contacts and visits his house in Shuvalan very often to think, relax, chat with friends, breathe air that is always 'sweet and pleasant' for a true patriot. Recently he came to Baku again. Not just because he got bored, but because he was of the active initiators, organisers and participants of the cultural forum Moscow-Baku: Dialogue of Cultures. A dialogue that is important and necessary for our countries. It so happened that the event coincided with the anniversary of Mikhail Solomonovich. It was not accidental and is regarded by the hero of the day as a great gift. Our team also wishes all the best to Mikhail Solomonovich. We decided to interview this legendary Bakuvite, the author and host of the popular TV program Formula of Power, and ask him about the essence of his love formula. The meeting was very short, as he is a busy man. Even his life in Baku was programmed in advance by the minute.
"What are your associations with the name of the city in which you were born?"
"My parents. I enjoyed when they often used to take me to visits, when they allowed me to be at the table with our guests. Their company, their communication with friends was a great intellectual and psychological school for me. Communication with my parents is probably the best thing that I took from my childhood and adolescence. The house where we lived. When I go to the house, I have mixed feelings: memories from my childhood and memories of my parents..."
Childhood is time, place and space where one wants to return at least for a short while. He returns too. As often as he can. There is Alovsat Guliyev Street and house number 111 in Baku. Mikhail Solomonovich visits this place just to take a look at the windows of the second floor. That was his home once; a cosy and happy life full of love and harmony, the street where he grew up playing football. Now there is a memorial plaque installed by order of Heydar Aliyev as a homage to the memory of prominent scientists of Azerbaijan, M.D., Prof. Solomon Gusman and Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Prof. Lola Yuliyevna Barsuk.
Perhaps there is no need to ask what he feels when visiting the graves of his parents. But there is always a feeling of an uninterrupted dialogue between him and the parents. The dialogue that they had built during life between themselves and their youngest son, allowing them to be present during conversations with their friends: a confidential and serious dialogue.
"I always liked spending time with my parents. And if I had to choose between playing with my friends or walking with my parents, I always chose parents."
"I did not like large communions. I did not understand the communality of living together. I felt uncomfortable there."
"Were you a troublemaker as a kid?"
"I have always had enough words to prove that the offender was wrong. I know for sure that words are more powerful than a fight."
Probably, he did not upset his parents as a child, but if they were alive, they would be proud of him. Because he grew up in an environment surrounded with love, hence he could preserve in his soul the light that he now shares with other people. It is those loving, understanding, and wise parents that grow up the talented children who then become the pillars of society, the colour of the nation. We all had childhood. His wise father and mother let the boy to be himself, helping to develop the qualities that formed their youngest son into a famous and legendary person.
"Do you still contact with the boys from your neighbourhood?"
"Everyone moved somewhere... We used to play football a lot. The Namazov brothers, famous Azerbaijani football players, lived in the opposite backyard. Anatoly Banishevsky and Nikolai Bogdanov, who lived a couple blocks from us, used to come to us to play football..."
"What do you mean?"
"Real fans of Azerbaijani football will understand me. Football was extremely popular. Banishevsky and Bogdanov were professional sportsmen by then and friends of the Namazov brothers. They played for our team, and we always won."
"Who are your friends in Baku now?"
"The same guys I have been friends for years. I have less friends in Moscow. Moscow has a strange concept of friendship. People are friends, but they may not see each other for years. In Baku, the concept of friendship is round-the-clock."
"Is it different than in other cities or countries?"
"I would not go to comparison. Any comparisons are meaningless."
"You are a regular visitor in Baku, a city that attracts tourists with its architectural symphony, making the people fall in love with itself. What is the secret of such a magnetic effect?"
"Baku is unique not in architecture, not in the Maiden’s Tower, not in the boulevard... it’s all amazingly beautiful. Baku has always been and is famous for its people and the way they treat other people and themselves. The main thing in Baku is the sincere atmosphere of hospitality and friendliness. I have travelled a lot and seen many hospitable, sweet, kind people, but I still have nothing to compare the phenomenon of Baku with..."
"Do you spend your vacation on the Caspian coast?"
"I love the Baku Sea, but I spend vacations in different places. In Baku I spend all my free time except vacation. Here I couldn’t have a rest, here I need to talk a lot and eat a lot, and I don’t need both during the holidays..."
"When you come here and see colossal architectural changes, don’t you feel nostalgic feelings about your childhood in Baku?"
"Well no. Maybe because I often go to Baku and I can see all sorts of changes right away: both architectural and cultural. Previously, we walked along one route of the boulevard: from the parachute tower to the Azneft building and back. And so many times. And now the boulevard is many times larger. My feeling from Baku is not the feeling of new homes, but the feeling of the soul, and it does not change."
"Not so long ago, a "Moscow-Baku: dialogue of cultures" round table was held in Baku, a dialogue that, in essence, did not interrupt between our countries."
"It cannot be said that he did not interrupt. After January 20, he could be interrupted for a long time, perhaps forever. Fortunately, Heydar Aliyev returned to Azerbaijan. The dialogue has recovered and strengthened. And now it is growing stronger thanks to the leadership of Ilham Heydarovich. But after January 20, there was a feeling for some time that this dialogue might be interrupted..."
"The policy of cultures in the dialogue of cultures is..."
"If we talk about the policy of culture and imply that the policy of culture is in joint projects, then culture is an indispensable attribute of political contacts. The event "Dialogue of cultures: Moscow - Baku" is just an example of cultural and political contact, when a contribution is made to the political interaction of two countries, two peoples..."
"You are a Bakuvite, a patriot. You do a lot to spend the truth about Azerbaijan all over the world. If you possessed some incredible power—human, titanic, magical—what would you do for Azerbaijan?"
"I would have settled the Karabakh conflict so that the refugees returned to their lands, so that my friend Polad Bulbuloghlu could return to his father’s house in Shusha. For me personally, it is a flagrant injustice that Azerbaijanis, who have lived in their homes for centuries, have been expelled from their native lands. This is absolute injustice. Justice must be restored."
Alas, the period of our interview expired, and we parted with the man who knew, if not everything, but many interesting things about formulas of power, life and love. One that can be measured neither by power nor by life, as it is much deeper, broader and more voluminous than the concept of power, even multiplied by life. Perhaps he does not even think about it, but his friends from Baku know well that their friend Misha Gusman is one of the few who knows the value of all that is ostentatious and does not confuse true feelings with false ones. His formula of love is in his code of ethics. He remains so always and everywhere, regardless of the drama of life. That is - the unity of time, place and action.
The once famous Russian bard in Baku, Alexander Gorodnitsky, devoted one of his poems to Mikhail Gusman, which later became a song. Here is an excerpt:
I suddenly remember
This city as an image from a fairy tale.
There is the Caspian shining under the moon.
It smells of oil extracted from the seabed.
What a nice view at the Torgovaya and Telefonnaya
For the hundredth time offering to pass.
Throw down gloomy thoughts
In a foreign land and on a long journey
Because the people of Baku
Can find each other anywhere.
Fellow countrymen recognise and smile to each other
Even among the alien passer-byes:
"Let's have a sit, my friend, for a cuppa tea
And remember the distant Baku"...
This is so true… Bakuvites can find each other anywhere! It is not surprising that there were so many people wishing to congratulate the fellow citizen with the 70th anniversary in person or by sending him letters, telegrams, calls, text messages, postcards and so on... But the most valuable was the congratulatory message of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev:
"We love and highly regard you here in Azerbaijan. For a long time, you have done a lot to expand cultural ties between Azerbaijan and Russia, hence contributing to the development and strengthening of friendly relations between our countries. Dear Mikhail Solomonovich, on this significant day I wish you good health, new achievements and all the best."