Archive for October 31, 2007

Beautiful church, Ugly Memorial, roaming pigeons

pigeonsugly memorialRussian monumentOrthodox church in Panfilov ParkOrthodox sideOrthodox church

Panfilov park is embedded in Almaty off of Dostyk and Gogol streets.  I remembered seeing the Orthodox church and WWII war memorial 14 years ago when I lived in Almaty the summer of 1993.  The church was as beautiful yesterday as it was when I went with my friend Tatyana for an Easter service.  However, the Soviet monument was just as ugly back then as now.  Fortunately, it was a beautiful day for a walk and I discovered where our pigeons from the neighboring rooftop fly to for feeding time.  One entrepreneur was selling bird seed for children to throw and the pigeons did not move as I waded through them, so tame are they.  I had followed a priest in his flowing robes to get to the beautiful Orthodox church where the roses are in their last bloom.  I did not go inside this time, so lovely was it outside.

An eternal flame is part of the WWII memorial where the ugly Soviet statue of the military forbids happy thoughts.  I do not mean to denigrate the memories of those brave Kazakh soldiers who died in the name of communism defending their land against fascism.  I do think a less cubic rendition without all the rough edges and fearsome looks could portray with accuracy what war looks like.  This depiction of the brutish soldiers shows more of what communism did against the Kazakhs more that anything.  Perhaps the metal from tanks was melted down to create this “art” only a football field away from the peaceful Orthodox church which was there first, of course. 

I think a better memory of how the Kazakhs served during wartime would represent less of the brutality of the Soviet regime and more of how these people were brutalized into submission in the name of collectivism.  On second thought, perhaps leaving the statue as it is shows exactly what happened on Kazakh soil with the ideology of communism bursting in on their passive, nomadic existence.

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