KAZAHSTAN – KAZAKHSTAN – KA3AXСТАН

Aerodrom u Alma Ati-Almaty airport

Aerodrom u Alma Ati-Almaty airport

Astana-nova kazaska prestonica-Astana-new Kazakh's capital

Astana-nova kazaska prestonica-Astana-new Kazakh’s capital

Centralna dzamija u Alma Ati-The Central Mosque of Almaty

Centralna dzamija u Alma Ati-The Central Mosque of Almaty

Dzamija u Astani-Nur-Astana Mosque

Dzamija u Astani-Nur-Astana Mosque

Lepota kao inspiracija-Beauty as an inspiration

Lepota kao inspiracija-Beauty as an inspiration

Panorama glavnog grada-A view of the capital from Bayterek Tower

Panorama glavnog grada-A view of the capital from Bayterek Tower

Predsednik pozdravlja narod-The President greeting people

Predsednik pozdravlja narod-The President greeting people

Socijalisticki heroj-Socialist hero

Socijalisticki heroj-Socialist hero

Spomenik pesniku Zambilu Zabajevu-A monument of the poet Zhambyl Zhabaev

Spomenik pesniku Zambilu Zabajevu-A monument of the poet Zhambyl Zhabaev

Toranj Bajterek-simbol Astane-Bayterek - the symbol of Astana

Toranj Bajterek-simbol Astane-Bayterek – the symbol of Astana

Uspenski sabor u parku Panfilov u Alma Ati-Ascension Cathedral in Panfilov Park, Almaty

Uspenski sabor u parku Panfilov u Alma Ati-Ascension Cathedral in Panfilov Park, Almaty

Astana-nova kazaska prestonica - Astana-new Kazakh's capital

Astana-nova kazaska prestonica – Astana-new Kazakh’s capital

Gulbakhar Ashimova

Gulbakhar Ashimova

Rashladjenje-Cooling down

Rashladjenje-Cooling down

Skrivena lepota-Hidden beauty

Skrivena lepota-Hidden beauty

Kazahstan je, tvrde njeni čelnici, evropska zemlja. Ili je to bar šesnaest procenata njene teritorije koji se nalaze na tlu starog kontinenta, a ta površina je jednaka veličini Belgije. Možda je to dovoljan razlog da se smatra evropskom državom. Stigao sam prvi put u tu ogromnu centralnoazijsku zemlju, veličine zapadne Evrope, zahvaljujući mojoj drugarici Bilji Kostić, koja je ovde došla da održi predavanja iz hematologije, a ja, kao njen najbolji drug, da joj pravim društvo. Sasvim dovoljan i lep povod da se poseti još jedna država.
Sleteli smo u najveći i najpoznatiji grad koji se naziva Alma Ata i koji je do pre petnaestak godina bio prestonica ove zemlje. Sada je to Astana, moderan grad usred ogromne stepe, koja čini najveći deo teritorije Kazahstana.
Ne volim moderne gradove, posebno ne u centralnoj Aziji, koja je za mene kolevka mnogih kultura i gde očekujem kasabe sa kamenim česmama i vodoskocima oko kojih se okupljaju pesnici. Žambil Žabajev je jedan od nacionalnih pesnika; u modernom delu grada podignut mu je spomenik na kome je predstavljen sa guslama u rukama, ali sam kasnije saznao da je bio glavni državni pesnik u Staljinovo doba.
Ovo je, ipak, neka druga Azija: moderna, postsovjetska, u kojoj dominiraju nafta i gas, krupni kapital i stroga vlast. Doživotni predsednik države je Nursultan Nazerbajev i tu nema promene: put razvoja je zacrtan, bar za njegovog života i za života njemu sličnih vladara okolnih zemalja. Glorious nation of Kazakhstan, kako bi rekao Borat u istoimenom filmu, koji je, bar po crnom humoru, širom sveta proneo glas o ovoj zemlji.
Šetajući avenijama Alma Ate, ušao sam u jednu malu galeriju u kojoj su se prodavali nacionalni suveniri, ali je u isto vreme u njoj bila postavljena izložba lokalne umetnice  Guljbahar Ašimove. Njena dela bila su upravo prenesena iz jedne galerije njujorškog Metropoliten muzeja, a ona sama živela je i stvarala na relaciji Njujork – Alma Ata – Taškent. Upravo sam u njenim slikama doživeo ono za čim sam tragao u centralnoj Aziji, na nov, moderan, a ipak mističan način. Ona je opštim prizorima iz ovog kraja sveta, dodala svoju lirsku misteriju postojanja u nekom drugom vremenu, koje je ostalo da lebdi između onog prošlog i ovog sadašnjeg sveta. Bila je to predstava prirode žene od koje sve potiče: duhovnosti i lepote kao centra univerzuma, jer, kako je kustos odeljenja islamske umetnosti Metropoliten muzela rekla, duša žene doneće svetu mir, harmoniju i jedinstvo s Bogom. I ta žena mi je prišla, radoznala da vidi ko sa takvom pažnjom posmatra njena dela.
Kroz vizuru njenih priča o kuluri i istoriji ovog grada, on je to popodne dobio drugačiju dimenziju i lagano me vraćao u ono vreme u kome sam očekivao da ću ga zateći. Vodila me je kroz zabačene trgove, u čajdžinice, muzeje i pozorišta raznih etničkih grupa koje žive na ovim prostorima. Najzanimljiviji događaj bila je muzička komedija u teatru Ujgura, jednog od najstarijih naroda turskog porekla u ovom delu sveta, koji najvećim delom danas živi u Kini. Zanimljiva je i istorija Ujgura, koji su u VII veku naseljavali skoro polovinu Azije, a danas jedva da imaju svoju autonomiju u dvema velikim zemljama, Kazahstanu i Kini. Nostalgija za tim vremenima kao da je ostala u očima moje sagovornice, sve dok nije saznala moje zanimanje. Onda smo promenili temu i meni više nije bilo tako zanimljivo. Njoj kao ženi sigurno jeste, jer se u takvoj situaciji centar univerzuma ipak premešta od duhovnosti ka lepoti.
U njenim slikama oni se prepliću u beskrajnom koloritu centralne Azije i kazaških stepa.

Maj 2006.
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Kazakhstan is a European country, claim its leaders. Or at least the 16% of its territory that lies on the Old Continent is; and that is equal to the territory of Belgium. Maybe that is a good enough reason to consider it a European country. I arrived in this huge Central Asian country, the size of Western Europe, thanks to my friend Bilja Kostić. She came here to give a lecture in haematology, and I, as her best friend, to provide some company for her. A good excuse and a nice opportunity to visit yet another country.
We landed in the biggest and most well known city, Almaty, which used to be the capital until some 15 years ago. Today the capital is Astana, a modern city in the middle of a vast steppe which constitutes the largest portion of Kazakhstan’s territory.
I don’t like modern cities, especially in Central Asia which for me represents the cradle of many diverse cultures, where I expect to find a kasbah with stony fountains, around which poets get together. Zhambyl Zhabaev is one of the national poets; in the modern part of the city there is his monument where he appears holding dombra; yet later I found out that he was the main state poet at the time of Stalin’s rule.
This seems to be another kind of Asia: modern, post-Soviet, dominated by gas and oil, huge capital investments and hard government rule. The country’s president, Nursultan Nazarabaev, enjoys life-long presidency and change seems impossible: the development route has been determined, at least as long as he is alive and as long as the similar rulers of neighbouring countries are alive. Glorious nation of Kazakhstan as Borat would say in the movie with the same name, which, albeit through black humour, has made this country’s name known around the world.
Walking down the avenues of Almaty, I entered a small gallery selling national souvenirs, which also hosted an exhibition by a local artist, Gulbakhar Ashimova. Her works have just been brought over from a gallery at the Metropolitan Musem in New York, and she herself lived and worked in New York, Almaty and Tashkent. In her paintings I finally found what I had been looking for around Central Asia, but in a new and modern, yet mystical way. She portrayed common sights from this part of the world adding to them her own lyrical, mystical expression of another era, a world that continued to hover in between the past and the present.  It was the image of the female nature that is the source of everything: spirituality and beauty as the centre of the universe; as the curator of the Islamic Art section at the Metropolitan Museum said  ‘the female soul will bring into the world peace, harmony and unity with God’. And this woman artist approached me, intrigued by my close inspection of her works.
Her stories about the culture and history of this city transformed my view of it that afternoon and I was able to see it in a different dimension and gradually, in a different time – the one I expected to find. She took me to remote squares, teahouses, museums and theatres belonging to various ethnic groups who inhabit this region. I found the most interesting a musical comedy in the theatre of Uyghurs, one of the oldest ethnic groups of Turkish origin in the region, who predominantly live in China today. The history of Uyghurs is interesting, as in the 7th century they inhabited almost half of Asia, whereas today they barely have some autonomy within the two big countries, Kazakhstan and China. In the eyes of my host I could detect some nostalgia for those times long gone, until she found out about my vocation. Then we changed the topic and I did not find it as interesting anymore. To her, as a woman, it was certainly interesting, because then the centre of the universe shifts from spirituality to physical beauty.
It is in her paintings that spirituality and physical beauty are intertwined, through infinite colours of Central Asia and Kazakh steppes.

May 2006

 

  Bajkonur – Baikonur – Байконур

 

Bista Jurija Gagarina-A bust of Yuri Gagarin

Bista Jurija Gagarina-A bust of Yuri Gagarin

Kuca iz koje je Gagarin krenuo u kosmos-A house where Gagarin spent his last night before the lounch

Kuca iz koje je Gagarin krenuo u kosmos-A house where Gagarin spent his last night before the lounch

Lansirna rampa-Lauching pad

Lansirna rampa-Lauching pad

Lokomotiva koja je vukla rakete-Engine which used to pull the rockets

Lokomotiva koja je vukla rakete-Engine which used to pull the rockets

Pravoslavna crkva u Bajkonuru-Orthodox church in Baikonur

Pravoslavna crkva u Bajkonuru-Orthodox church in Baikonur

Raketa Sojuz kao spomenik-Soyuz rocket as a monument

Raketa Sojuz kao spomenik-Soyuz rocket as a monument

Suncev sistem-Solar system

Suncev sistem-Solar system

Svemirsko odelo-A space suit

Svemirsko odelo-A space suit

Uskrs u crkvi u Bajkonuru-An Easter in the church in Baikonur

Uskrs u crkvi u Bajkonuru-An Easter in the church in Baikonur

Bajkonur je ogromna pustinjska teritorija Kazahstana, koja je iznajmljena Rusima na mnogo godina radi  izvođenja svemirskog programa. Samo ime zvuči kao bajka iz koje je, nekada davno, Jurij Gagarin, lepog i nasmejanog lica, ulazio u svemirsku kapsulu i odlazio u nepoznato. Tada se zaista nije znalo da li će se uopste vratiti, ali u trci za prestižem na  svetskoj sceni bilo je važno biti prvi.
Sećam se tih dana kada smo u osnovnoj skoli pravili makete letilica, a sekcije iz opštetehničkog obrazovanja nosile slavna imena ruskih kosmonauta. Moja se zvala Andrijan Nikolajev. U osnovnoj školi u Bajkonuru ponovo sam nostalgično palio fitilje raketica u školskom dvoristu i, kao nekada, gledao kako uz prasak poleću a zatim, ogaravljene, padaju oko mene.
Prave rakete poletale su sa kosmodroma Gagarinov Start, koji se preda mnom otvarao kao ogromno betonsko grotlo kroz koje prolazi raketni plamen prilikom lansiranja. Amerikanci su prestali sa slanjem kosmonauta u svemir iz Kejp Kanaverala, tako da zajednički, internacionalni timovi, sada polaze samo iz Bajkonura. Kada bi se na Zemlji tako slagali kao u svemiru, mnogo bi se više ulagalo u njegovo istraživanje nego u besmislene ratove.
Svemirske posade danas kreću sa izvesnošću da ce se vratiti, za razliku od Gagarina koji je te 1961. godine ušao u istoriju. Kažu da je kosmonaut German Titov bio spremniji od njega, ali je imao ime koje je zvučalo nemački, kao i građansko poreklo, a i nije imao tako lep osmeh koji je obišao svet i proneo slavu velikog Sovjetskog Saveza.
Poseta muzeju, spomenicima osnivačima sovjetskog kosmičkog programa, obilazak starih raketa Sojuz ispred kojih se slikaju mladenci u centru grada, ali i skromne kućice iz koje je Gagarin krenuo tog dalekog jutra u nepoznato, a u koju, za sreću, dolaze pred poletanje svi oni koji idu njegovim stopama – sve to čini Bajkonur zaista bajkovitim.
Zvezdana bajka koja je odavno postala stvarnost.
April 2011.
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Baikonur is a vast desert territory in Kazakhstan, leased to the Russians for many years for their space programme. The name itself sounds like a fairytale from which long ago Yuri Gagarin, with a handsome and smiling face, stepped into a space capsule and then into the unknown. At the time no one knew if he would really come back, but in the race for prestige on the world stage, it was important to be the first.
I remember the days when, at primary school, we made model aircrafts, and various clubs at the design and technology departments bore the names of famous Russian cosmonauts. Mine was called Andriyan Nikolayev. At a primary school in Baikonur, with a feeling of nostalgia, I ignited the fuse of little rockets in the schoolyard, and just like once in the past, I watched them fly up with a bang, and then charred, fall around me.
Real rockets were launched from the cosmodrome, called Gagarin’s Start, which opened up before me like a huge concrete crater through which rocket flames passed during the launch. Americans stopped sending their cosmonauts from Cape Canaveral so that today joint international teams leave only from Baikonur. If they got along together so well on Earth as they do in space, much more would be invested in exploring space than in meaningless wars.
Today space crews leave with the certainty of coming back, while Gagarin entered history in 1961 without it. It is said that Gherman Titov was more prepared than him, but he had a German sounding name and a civic background, and he did not possess that handsome smile that became known around the world bringing fame to the great Soviet Union.
Visiting the museum, the monuments of the founders of the Soviet space programme, and the old Soyuz rockets in the centre of the city, where newly weds take pictures; also the modest house from which Gagarin stepped into the unknown a long time ago and to which all those following his footsteps come for luck before their flight – all this makes Baikonur a proper fairytale location.
It is a starry fairytale that became a reality long ago.
April 2011

 

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