Tag Archives: Russia

Terminal D, Sheremetyevo

Wednesday 25th October 2017, 2.10pm (day 2,253)

Sheremetyevo pigeons, 25/10/17

And so, after two days of photographing monuments — and, y’know, doing a bit of work — I head home again. My colleague and I were wondering how these pigeons got into the Sheremetyevo airport buildings, but maybe they don’t even bother leaving; I should imagine there is more than enough here to feed and shelter them, rather like that Tom Hanks character in The Terminal. Warmer than a Moscow winter, anyway.

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Tuesday 24th October 2017, 10.30am (day 2,252)

Gagarin, 24/10/17

Well, if you hit a theme, sometimes it’s worth continuing it. From yesterday’s post-Soviet-style statuary to the real deal today, the monument on Leninsky Prospekt to Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. Whatever you think of the Soviets’ attitude toward economic issues, it’s hard to deny they did good statuary.

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Monday 23rd October 2017, 7.25pm (day 2,251)

Khatchaturian, 23/10/17

Here I am in Moscow again, a place I seem to find impossible to avoid for very long. But I guess I’ve got used to it down the years. In the centre there remain many picturesque little lanes (flanked by real estate worth billions of roubles, no doubt); here, on an extremely cold evening, I found what looks like a piece of Soviet realist art but this monument was in fact unveiled in 2006. It commemorates the composer Aram Khachaturian — you might not have heard of him, but I virtually guarantee you’d recognise his Sabre Dance.

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Airport bus (is it tomorrow yet?)

Friday 9th June 2017, 3.55am (day 2,115)

Early bus, 9/6/17

I’m sure we all love 3.15am alarm calls, especially after the conference closing party the evening before — when the phone went off, I had very little idea where I was or what I was doing. At least the sun was up — it’s flare encouraging a move to monochrome for this shot featuring fellow attendees Susannah and Coetzee presumably wondering what they were doing up as well, at a time equivalent to 11.15pm at home, thus meaning it was before midnight on the previous day when I started my journey home — to where I  arrived 21 hours later. At least the early start let me keep up with the news from the Election.

Farewell to Siberia then — I saw a very small part of it though mainly it was just sitting in a room. Pleasant weather though. But let’s not talk about the mosquitoes.

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Daria the translator

Thursday 8th June 2017, 1.35pm (day 2,114)

Daria, 8/6/17

Election day of course — but I’m still in Russia, this being the last day of the conference here in Khanty-Mansiysk. Daria here was one of the two simultaneous translators who worked throughout the two and a half days. I cannot help but be amazed by the talent of translators generally, but to do it simultaneously — like a Babel fish — now that really is astonishing. Will machines ever be able to do this? I seriously doubt it. Imagine a computer that can translate a joke from one language to another on the spot.

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United Nations (sort of)

Wednesday 7th June 2017, 11.45am (day 2,113)

United Nations, 7/6/17

The conference I’m attending here has been organised by UNESCO (as was the one I went to four years ago in Moscow) so we get to feel like the United Nations with our own little flags marking our place on the table: spot my Union Jack, there on the left… Cynics might also say that the general absence of activity is also redolent of the real UN, but hey, even they need refreshment breaks now and again I am sure.

If there are any chess fans out there you might like to know that in this room the Chess Olympiad was held in 2010 and will be again, in 2020.

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The Ugra TV presenter gets ready

Tuesday 6th June 2017, 9.40am (day 2,112)

Ugra TV, 6/6/17

Khanty-Mansiysk lies in the Ugra (pronounced Yoo-Grah) region, the centre of the Russian oil industry — the money generated from same being the reason why a relatively small (100,000 people) and isolated city can sustain a few major conference centres, a national league ice hockey team, an airport, and indeed a life in a region where winter temperatures fall to -50ºC on a regular basis. Linguists may recognise the placename as contributing to the name of the Finno-Ugric group of languages, so if you speak Hungarian, Estonian or Finnish, this is where your ancestors came from.

Ugra TV seemed to think it worth covering the IT Forum that we attended this morning: no idea what is happening with the guy’s hands behind the presenter here, either it was something highly significant to her on-screen appearance, or he was just copping a feel.

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Baba Yaga’s storehouse

Monday 5th June 2017, 5.15pm (day 2,111)

Baba Yaga hut, 5/6/17

In the near six years that I have been doing this blog, my spreadsheet reveals I have been to Russia on twelve separate occasions, and I know I went there at least four times before August 2011. And in all those sixteen occasions I have never been outside Moscow or its immediate environs (airports mainly).

This time is an exception. I currently reside in Khanty-Mansiysk, at 61ºN, 69ºE approximately: thus firmly behind the Urals, and in Siberia. (If Siberia, even by its most conservative definition, was a separate country it would still be the biggest one in the world.) What did I expect this place to look like — in the summer at least? Well, this pretty much sums it up. This is not out in the genuine taiga — this being a Russian academic conference they can never resist the ‘cultural programme’ so we were taken out this afternoon to the local open air ethnographic museum to see a bunch of log cabins in the woods (and the associated mosquito population). It was interesting though, and I was rather taken with this storehouse, built on stilts to keep the contents away from bears and other scavengers, but I can quite picture it as the legendary hut of the witch Baba Yaga, which could sprout chicken legs and chase after naughty children.

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View from my room — last morning in Moscow

Friday 20th January 2017, 9.25am (day 1,975)

Moscow skyline, 20/1/17

Last morning in Moscow on this trip. Will there be another one? Perhaps… It is about time I got to see some more of this vast country in fact. It may happen, it may not. Anyway I imagine that this is many people’s stereotypical view of what Moscow looks like, and there is some truth to it, particularly outside the city centre (here we are about five miles from Red Square). Liked the way the brief burst of morning sun was spilling over from the right-hand side of the picture. Do svedanya, until next time.

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Fence at night, RANEPA

Thursday 19th January 2017, 6.55pm (day 1,974)

RANEPA fence, 19/1/17

I’m still here on the campus of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Political Administration (hence, RANEPA). It was much colder today — thanks to a biting wind; the last few days had been still and not unpleasant, but today was bitter.

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