03 September 2007

Happy Birthday Moscow!

Although I always try to blend in and pay respect to the local customs, I was totally unaware of the upcoming prazdnik (holiday) of the Birthday of Moscow until I met a legion of police cavalry practicing their ceremonial gallops through the Tverskaya Street on saturday morning. The usual hum of speeding expensive cars and toxic exhaust (what we call Air de Moscow) gave way to a shouting supervisor and a lot of stench of horses...I couldn't stay to check their preparations but made up my mind to attend the prazdnik on sunday.

Like all soviet and post-soviet celebrations, not only the actual reality but also the actual weather is altered to reflect the artificial socilaist (now capitalist) realm of the power of the state. Although we had a week-long english weather with sporadic rains, the coulds must have been exiled to Siberia for the weekend, since the state will celebrate its beloved capital's 860th birthday.

Although at first not founded as a capital, Moscow then became the capital of the medieval russian state in 1147 after a long rivalry between the neighboring towns (which now became tourist towns with their own shabby kremlins) and then stood witness to the change from an over-authocratic to an over-socialist and then to a shameless capitalist empire. Now the most expensive and the most populous city in Europe and home to more than 10 million legal inhabitants (including a couple of thousand of Turkish invaders and many millions of Tadjik slaves)

Almost ten years ago, I was handed a VHS tape of a concert of Jean-Michel Jarre in Moscow by a friend, with whom we formed a short living group in university called METU New-Age. As nearly all VCRs in Turkey are in Beta format, I had to beg a neighbor to lend his to me and watched in awe as Jarre performed a concert near the MGU with all his signature laser and light shows for the 850th Birthday of Moscow. Now a familiar face for me, a guy called Luzhkov would open the concert with congratulating the half-drunk audience with a bunch of MIGS jetting over the darkening skies above. If I was told that I would be in the same celebration 10 years later, I would never ever believe it...but future is the only thing that we cannot predict with a spartan accuracy.

I agree that I am not a newbie to the concept of a Russian prazdnik since I attended a lot of commemorial festivities during my stay in moscow and tried to socialize with WW2 veterans with my then-poor russian; but it was the first time that I happened to be in a non-military celebration and my expectations was not in all highs.

First aff all, I was surprised to see the 24-hour busy streets close to traffic and a chance to walk right in the middle of Tverskaya Street was beyond description. Although the police has formed barricades with metal detectors to secure any terrorist incident (I think Moscow is in top3 bombing targets after New York and London...I hope I don't end up in a caribbean gulag for that) There was also enough military prowess on Moscow streets to protect Poland from another German invasion in 1939.

So what the Moscowites did to celebrate the porazdnik was nothing unusual: They drank, ate dried salty kal'mar (squid), listened to russian rappers in sailor outfits and wandered around the wide boulevards closed to traffic. And here is what I have wanted to share with you:

Turkish pride on Tverskaya Street...right on the middle of the road.

Students gathering for a parade in the Tverskaya Square

Citizens rushing towards the concert area in Kitay-Gorod

Posing with the three amigos of socialism (Marx, Engels and Uncle Lenin)

Respect the nation, respect the flag...(Bolshoy Theatre and TsUM on the back)

Shameless capitalism in the very center of Moscow...and Moscowites love it!

Moscowites listening to the Sailor-Rap in Lubyanka Square (The building on the left is the former-KGP Headquarters)

"Put your hands up for the Red Navy"

One of the diners in Propaganda had the best of intentions...

The artificial good weather and the top of the Stalin skyscraper in Kotelnicheskaya Naberezhnaya.

The relief statues of the example socialist family (The metal worker husband, collective farmworker wife, engineer son and a lot of socialist-minded kids) are watching the socialist dream turned into capitalist nightmare from high above the Jiloy Dom in Kotelnicheskaya Naberejnaya.

1 comment:

Hans A.H.C. de Wit said...

Mr. Dinc, I know for sure that one of your Russian Ladies can help you out how to pose for the camera..))
Enjoying reading your blog..!