Tag Archives: USSR

A tale of two missions. Part 2.

It was just appropriate that, in line with the general low-key-feeling of the entire place, the next stop in our tour looked a lot like grandpa’s barn meets serial accumulator’s shack, if one was willing to ignore the fact that … Continue reading

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A tale of two missions. Part 1.

The TsUM Magazin on Rudaki was rumoured, according to the chit-chat in the hostel, to be unbeatable in Dušanbe for Soviet tat, but once we’d gotten there it was pretty hard to figure out why. Ground floor was packed to … Continue reading

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Disaster by design: the death and partial rebirth of the Aral Sea (Part 2).

I’d seen Serik a long time before we met in the parking lot outside the Altair hotel; in fact, I first read about him on Al Jazeera. Dubbed “Aralsk’s only tour guide”, he’d accepted to be my guide for the … Continue reading

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Disaster by design: the death and partial rebirth of the Aral Sea (Part 1).

The aurora was a promise of yet another scorcher of a day, as it’d been yesterday and tomorrow was bound to be, but right now it was fresh and cool as I sat on my pack on the first of … Continue reading

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The “Frontier School of Character”: Travels along the Pamir Highway Part V.

To Dušanbe. “In my opinion, eight officers out of ten are corrupted in Dušanbe” Tajik police officer, interviewed by I. Khamonov, 2005 My memories of Khorog are fleeting, for such was the nature of my permanence there. We took possession … Continue reading

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The “Frontier School of Character”: Travels along the Pamir Highway Part IV.

To Khorog. “Recent years have struck a final crippling blow to the roadlessness of Kirgiziia […]. Instead of isolated districts there is now one connected and unified economic whole.” M.M. Slavinskii, 1935 A minute man waited for us in the … Continue reading

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The “Frontier School of Character”: Travels along the Pamir Highway Part III

Murghab. “’Tis said to be the highest place in the world” Marco Polo Looking back, the handful of hours we spent on the road between Karakul and the Tajik town of Murghab were my favourite of the entire journey. It … Continue reading

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A snowfall that would’ve made Bruegel proud.

It was snowing when I arrived, and it hadn’t finished yet when I left. Everything between the flights from and to Kiev – with their cargo of harmonica-playing, duty-free-vodka-guzzling men – happened under a soft blanket of falling snow. Of … Continue reading

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Notes from the fringes of the Empire: Yerevan.

Yerevan lies in a bowl shaped like the tongue of a cat, delimited on one side by the Hrazdan gorge, and on the others by steep hills, on which stand strange perches and other abstruse relics of the Soviet past. … Continue reading

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“The Lost Heart of Asia”, by Colin Thubron, Vintage

Then I heard Pasha calling me to return. It was late and dark, he said, and this was not our country. It doesn’t happen often, for me, to arrive at the last word of a book and think Aw fuck, … Continue reading

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