Lenin Watches Over Russia
Superheroes in flapping capes have come and gone but this formidable one continues to hang out in plazas across the nation. Plazas in the Russian nation, that is.
Most sizeable Russian towns and cites have statuary Vladmir Lenin (Red Square, Moscow has the real thing on display at the Lenin Mausoleum) hanging out in public gathering places. Although he varies physically from place to place, the Lenin mental image is aloof, monolithic, captivating and unambiguous. It is difficult to avoid his omnipresent gaze. Wide, open plazas that were constructed for one-way dialogue to the people are more than ever a solitary tribute to lonely Lenin, now sterile and lacking in humanity except for a few skateboarders. No one gazes in awe, everyone knows he is there.
Lenin had a top down approach and, if you knew nothing about him, the statuary tells all. Nearly a century has passed since he died (1924), yet he still looks over the Russian people, sometimes larger than life. Only the birds have a more enviable view, leaving their obvious calling card, but not for long, Lenin remains pristine in death. No antiquarian mold is growing on this important world figure. Locals walking about town, whether in Mother Moscow or Irkutsk, Siberia, can’t avoid the gaze. Like many super-heroic figures he wears a whippy cape, adding surreal drama to his mythic, albeit brooding figure. From champion of the working class to dictator and human rights persecutor his reputation has been the subject of squabbles over the decades. Nonetheless Lenin remains.
For more on Russia and Siberia see:
Siberia, Russia In Summer
Brrr! Blizzards remind us of Siberia, leaving our predisposed notion of what freezer-frigid places are like and the two words, blizzard and Siberia, cuddled up well together.
It is hard to conceptualize Siberia with almost the opposite but in Asian Russia summer is more likely a chemistry of humidity from downpours, the thermometer entertaining over thirty Celsius, and the occasional temporary flooding everywhere. What would be the agenda in Ulan Ude, Siberia, the first major pit-stop northwest into Russia from Mongolia, on such a day? Never mind the mandatory umbrella and puddle jumping. Permeating the air is the smell of ageing architecture saturated with moisture overload and fireplaces burning to take away the dampness, setting the stage for an architectural tour. So don the best cover you have (not from the cold but from the wet) and enter the world of century old crumbling facades, reflections and water-intensified colours. You will remain primarily unnoticed, meandering the back streets capturing moments in time, all of the locals are just trying to keep dry.
Cycling Craze For The Montreal Maze
A few years ago Montreal made a transportation decision that has the two-wheeled crowd (and modifications thereof) exalted with ambulatory excitement. After all, if 499 other world cities are doing it, there must be something to this human-powered frenzy. http://www.economist.com/news/international/21587826-sharing-two-wheels-becoming-ever-more-popular-taking-stabilisers?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/takingoffthestabilisers
Cycle paths and separate lanes encourage Montreal’s citizens and visitors to get mobile on pedal power leaving fossil fuels coughing from their exhaust. Today it is not that difficult, in the fiercest of Montreal traffic jams, to drift by packed gridlock to the beat of a different transportation drum. All hail that modern invention, the bicycle, for keeping roads less congested and Montreal folks breathing easier. Montreal cyclists have moved back to the bicycle to negotiate their transportation needs beyond just a stroll in the park; with downtown hi-rise attire, babies in tow, baskets brimming with student workload, shopping gear readied, cyclists fan out to navigate the city and get on with their daily lives, crossing de Maisonneuve, down Parc du Mont-Royal, through Rachel Avenue and along Lachine Canal. The ability to traverse in most directions by bicycle awaits those confident enough that pedal-driven mode can handle the transportation challenges of this four hundred year old city. Tidal waves of wheels maneuver the maze of Montreal’s streets, their rhythmical patterns swirling and sweeping, ebbing and easing around pedestrians and vehicular obstacles, obediently managing their own rules of the road, most of which are unwritten. You don’t have access to your own two-wheeled wonder? No need to despair, the Bixi alternative, https://montreal.bixi.com/, lined up on convenient street corners, are tuned up for the taking. You will be amazed at the accessibility and independence Montreal’s cycle trails offer so hop on and take a spin around the block or the neighbourhood or almost anywhere in the entire city of Montreal.
For more on cycling cities see: http://heathersimondsphotography.com/2012/08/14/coping-with-copenhagen/