The following photos are places or statues seen in Astana, Kazakhstan, the new capital of this vast country. A very eclectic place to visit. These photos are taken by Martin Lee and are found in calendars which are sold at Eagilik, a coffee shop/book store and library in old part of Astana.
Posts tagged Pyramid
This blue pattern is not a carpet but tape used in a traditional Kazakh pattern. An art piece about 2 meters square shown at the Pyramid. Yesterday I wrote about some issues that have been brewing for a while, I have more questions than answers. Since I don’t know the Kazakh language I have to rely on my Kazakh students who know English to fill me in on their traditional values and their culture. Kazakhstan is no different than many Central Asian nations, they have 1,000s of years of history but are trying to come to terms with present day reality. As a nation, they have some of the same Soviet baggage that Kyrgyzstan is trying to lose. How does a leader of a nation guide his or her people to salvage from the past traditions and embrace from the 21st century what should be in place in order to compete with the rest of the world. I don’t envy the interim president’s job in Kyrgyzstan, she has an uphill battle with what has happened lately in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan, in Osh.
What are the true numbers of deaths and those wounded? The health care facilities are not that great to begin with, I can’t even imagine how the hospitals and doctors are coping right now. Also, how are the survivors or families of those victims who perished last week, what are they doing to memorialize their loved ones? I don’t know that much about the Uzbek people who are caught in the middle. They probably were born in Kyrgyzstan but are ethnic Uzbek while the country of Uzbekistan doesn’t want these refugees fleeing from Kyrgyzstan to feed and support, they have their own fragile economy trying to support their own.
For lack of anything else to write because I have no answers or solutions and can only grieve for those stuck in the middle of this terrible power play, I am showing more Kazakh carpets. These are photos I took several weeks ago at Indepedence Hall in Astana.
Yesterday was dedicated to our going to Independence Hall across from the Pyramid. I kept telling Ken that there was a city plan of all of Astana in this structure extending south of the Pyramid. The entrance to the Hall that had been built up in just weeks several years ago, had arrows pointing to the south and not west, the entrance that faces the Pyramid. Hundreds of workers were all over the grounds getting it ready for the real tourism season to begin. Once we paid our 400 tenge each for our tour guide, we saw all levels of museum Kazakh artifacts from yesteryear, Kazakh carpets and vibrant paintings. And finally what Ken came to see, the floor plan of the city at a scale of 1:600 done by a Korean firm several years ago. We did not see the 4-D film that was adjacent to the floor scale model of the city, I believe that shows the building of the Pyramid. Another time…
Afterwards Ken and I went home to prepare for our Kazakh dinner guest, a friend of Ken’s from almost 20 years ago. Always good to spend time with Misha (not his real name) because he is someone who knows 15 languages. Even though he is Kazakh his first language was Russian and he had to learn Kazakh on his own. Of course, his English is very good too, as is his German, Ukrainian and all the other languages he has mastered. More on that conversation with Misha in a later post.
Finally, to get some exercise after our big meal, I went back to the Buddy Bears exhibit to take more pictures of people taking pictures and then walked towards the President’s Palace. The sunlight was waning in the west and I was stopped by one policeman for my documents. I smiled and said that I lived in Astana but I was being like a tourist because it was so beautiful outside. This was all done in my very bad Russian, he smiled back. I think I charmed him. Noone around, perhaps even the president wasn’t in his residence so I think the officer must have been bored and just curious who I was.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you photos I took of the layout of the city, very ambitious plans! (The Independence Hall is closed only on Monday and from 1:00 to 2:00 for lunch all the other days, but opens at 10:00 a.m.and closes at 6:00 p.m.) Well worth the tour to understand this old and new city of Astana, the right and left side better. I believe it should be mandatory for anyone who is planning on living here for any length of time. Deboard the plane and go directly to Independence Hall…do not pass GO!
I don’t know what the winged horses or the star on the top of the monument mean as you take the roundabout close to the airport, south of Astana. Oh well, lots of things I don’t know or understand in this new city. Next Wednesday, May 26th I’ll give a talk to the Astana International ladies group which meets monthly at the Radisson hotel. About a year ago I had three of my former university students share with the Almaty international women’s club about their Kazakh grandparents. I blogged about it and have photos to show of these special young women. Since I live in Astana now I only have their powerpoints to show, but I know it would be much more meaningful if the actual girls could tell about their grandparents themselves. They have emotional stories to tell, such as Aray’s great, great grandfather was the well-known Abay, Laura’s grandfather survived Siberia for 15 years and Aida’s grandmother survived 10 years at the labor camp for USSR women, ALHIR which is only about 10 miles outside of Astana. So, it will be fun to share the information I have gained from my former Kazakh students with other expat ladies who may not have heard any of these stories before.
Today I want to go to the national museum (looks like a bullet) that is next to the National library, if it’s open. I also want Ken and I to adventure over to the Independence Hall that has all the blueprints for the rest of the city of Astana spreading south towards the airport. I saw from the vantage point from the top of the Pyramid how there are still small homes and dachas that are beyond the Music Conservatory and Independence Hall. That will eventually be developed into high rise apartments and probably more office buildings. But for now I just want to imagine what it will look like close to the new university of Astana, looking at the blueprints and miniature model of the city will help.
Yes, if you want to do something in Astana while the weather is warm, you have to initiate it. I would love to go to Boravoy which I’ve heard is a beautiful, hilly place with a lake. Many people from flat Astana like to go to Boravoy the 3 hours by car away for retreats. In Almaty, you didn’t have to go too far to get away from the city, but Astana is fairly isolated and far from anything scenic.
Look at the photo I took on the top tier of the Pyramid, it looks like an eerie simulation of real life but it is of real people who were part of our ladies group tour. However, the larger than life doves are painted into the glass. Seeing these doves reminded me of an artwork with an overhanging cage or net and trapped 15 doves at the ALZHIR museum. That was meant to depict the 15 republics of the USSR where many of the wives of the Enemies of the People were punished. All the symbolism, all the parallels are hard to keep track of in this new city of Astana that yearns to be significant to the rest of the country as its new capitol.
Love the color of this Kazakh artist’s renderings I photographed the other day at the Pyramid. I don’t know the artist’s name, I wish I had asked and written it down. It looks like a yurt sitting atop a camel who is heavily laden with all its owner’s earthly goods. However, I understand that a famous Kazakh artist Leyla Mahat had her art exhibition displayed on the 6th floor of the Pyramid last night. She is the one who painted the Buddy Bear that I featured last week on my blog. Eventually I will get back to the Buddy Bear photos I took, so many of them to choose from but for now I want to show off the three dimensional artwork I saw that uses iron and paint, also chicken wire! I’m not sure who would buy this to put in their home, it is about one meter wide and two meters tall and no doubt very heavy. Kind of like the burden the camel is carrying.
Who says there isn’t anything to do in Astana? Only in Kazakhstan would you find so many cultures celebrated as I have enjoyed the last week or so. I’m taking a pause from the Buddy Bears to blog about the amazing art work that can be viewed at the Korean Cultural Center in the old part of the city of Astana. Last Wednesday morning I went with about 50 women from the international women’s club to enjoy the hospitality of the Koreans in their new center. They had very expensive artwork to gaze at on their walls painted by their own Korean artists. We watched a video about South Korea in their auditorium and then ate the delicious Korean food our gracious hosts provided afterwards.
Yesterday morning I went with a smaller group of ladies to tour from bottom to top the Pyramid that is in the new part of the city. Though the Pyramid’s origins are from Egypt, once inside it definitely had the trademark of Kazakhstan apparent everywhere in their Kazakh symbolism, with a mix of 125 different cultures that co-exist in this multi-ethnic country. Nothing Egyptian about it except the outside structure. The elevator that brought us to the 8th floor went on a slant instead of straight up. Eerie sensation.
I just can’t seem to move on to everyday events that make my life seem normal in Astana, Kazakhstan (if that is possible) when people south of us in Kyrgyzstan are still patching things up after a bloody revolution. Difficult to move off this topic of the “UN-Tulip” revolution of what happened just a week ago in Kyrgyzstan even though I have other material to write about Kazakhstan. I have anecdotes and photos to show of sweet Kazakh students and also a traditional Kazakh concert Ken and I attended at the Pyramid concert hall. I still wait for some American friends to respond to my queries about how they are doing, still no word from them.
I appreciate what this author, Alisher Khamidov had to write from his perspective, I’m quoting the last half of his article. This revolution does impact us in Kazakhstan, it’s too close.
“In particular, three factors served to turn mass dissatisfaction into protests. They were the arrest of several opposition leaders by the Bakiev regime in relation to mass disorder in the town of Talas, where protesters occupied a government building; a steep hike in utility prices, which hit the population in the remote northern regions the hardest; the exclusion of a number of important northern elites in the Kurultai, or informal gathering of all Kyrgyz, by the Bakiev administration in March; and economic sanctions by Moscow such as the introduction of higher prices for gasoline.
That move was seen as Moscow’s way of punishing the government for reneging on a 2009 agreement under which Kyrgyzstan would receive close to $2 billion in loans and aid in exchange for evicting U.S. forces from the air base in Manas. Bakiev got some of the Russian money, but then extended the lease for the base under a different status. The Russians were livid. As a result, the Russian media offered negative coverage of the Bakiev regime, a contributing factor to his sagging reputation.
Yet another notable difference between April 2010 and March 2005 were the “engines” behind the change. During the March 2005 protests, demonstrations were organized by wealthy elites who felt that their bids to gain seats in the parliament were threatened by the incumbent Akaev regime. Such elites then mobilized their supporters in their towns and villages, relying on local networks and offers of cash. The protests we saw on 7 April were sporadic and chaotic. In many ways, they appeared to be more an uncoordinated grass-roots revolt by a disenchanted population than an elite-driven and planned campaign.
As a result, the speed with which the protests erupted and spread was surprising, not only to international observers, but also to many locals.
The administration and some opposition leaders seem to have not appreciated the extent of popular anger and were themselves taken aback. In other words, because there was no credible information about the distribution of power before the protests, there was little room for opposition factions and the incumbent regime to come to a negotiated settlement.
Neither the government nor opposition factions are in full control of the crowds. Already, there are reports of destruction of property and marauding in Bishkek and the regions that have seen protests. This is a bad sign for opposition factions because it discredits them.
Whatever the outcome of the protests, it is clear that Kyrgyzstan has plunged into deep chaos. It will take months, if not years to recover from this. The concern is that instability in Kyrgyzstan is already spilling over to its neighbors. Kazakhstan has closed borders as scores of Kyrgyz are trying to cross the border and find refuge in Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan is most likely to follow suit.”