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Neighbourhood Cam: Hues and Reflections

Autumn is hesitantly descending onto Moscow. Some trees have lost all their leaves, while others – of the same kind – are only just beginning to yellow. The fall beautifully covers the streets and park lanes. It is still quite warm in the day and at night, and the sky’s blue is as clean as in early March.

It’s been a few years now that I’ve noticed how seasons miraculously blend into one another. Winter sends its reminiscences in summer when poplar covers the town with its white foam. And now, above the greens and still rare yellows and reds, the blue unashamedly spills across the sky.

A man cannot constantly focus on things at hand. If he persists, things gradually lose their significance and become mundane. So we have to look up to the sky now and again. The reflection is what we notice when we return “home”.

Neighbourhood Cam: The New World Awaits

Following the referenda in four parts of the now former Ukraine, we are waiting for the ratification of historic documents tomorrow. The sunset tonight signifies the glimpse of hope that always shines amidst the most terrible circumstances. The war in Donbass isn’t over yet, but its end is imminent because the territory has rejoined Russia.

The war with the West is imminent, too, and no, “we didn’t start the fire” but we are going to end it.

Currently a couple of hundred thousands of Russian citizens are peacefully “invading” Georgia and Kazakhstan under the name of the “great escape”. This exodus marks the moment when Russia is only full of people who want it to exist and who want to exist with it – or not.

The readiness to die is what sets Russia apart from the rest of the world. And this is precisely what has allowed my country to survive the ordeals many other nations could not withstand. The more you are prepared to die, the more you fight for your life – metaphysically, first and foremost.

The single mistake of the Western world, Europe in particular, has been the desire to live in peace. And so it was eager to sustain any status quo that made it possible. Now it has all but lost its own status as a political subject. Britain has left the EU to remain the one.

On the contrary, by starting the special military operation, Russia has shown that the country will no longer tolerate the status quo that includes, among other unacceptable things, the resurrection of Fascism. And we are ready to undertake every measure that Europe ignored or was unable to undertake.

And it explains why Russia is taking time to “respond” to a teract on Nord Stream. There is no hurry, and Europe is now a continent in distress, it will need help, obviously, but it will have to cope by itself.

The only thing I would tell all Europeans is this: don’t go to the US. Why would you go to work and pay your taxes to the country that bombed Japan and Vietnam and is now pumping money and weapons into Ukraine? It’s OK if you plan to stay in your home country, but if you’re thinking of moving, then go to Russia. People here speak different European languages, women are beautiful, and you will always be able to return to your home country…

The Church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy was built between 1688 and 1701. It can be accessed from Pokrovka St, close to the Kremlin.

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy was built between 1688 and 1701. However, a church used to exist here as early as the 15th century. It belonged to Andronikov monastery until the tsar Ivan III granted it the lands beyond the Yauza River in exchange of this church. It can be accessed from Pokrovka St and is therefore located fairly close to Red Square and the Kremlin.

Barashy was a special area, a sloboda, where lived the tsar’s servants who accompanied him on his journeys and campaigns. They carried the so called “soft stuff”, or tents, which they put up and took down. The Russian word “barakhlo” is evidently related.

The church that we can presently see was built and decorated in the style of the Moscow Baroque. Its splendid architecture includes corniches, entablements and archivolts, columns and “kokoshniks”. The bell-tower was added during a restoration of 1741. Another round of restorative works took place between 1815 and 1837 when the church was slightly enlarged and a new iconostasis was consecrated.

The church’s two chapels are dedicated to Holy Martyr Longinus the Centurion and St Elijah the Prophet. As a matter of fact, close to the church there was lyinskaya sloboda (the sloboda of Elijah) that belonged to Russian tsars.

The church of the Presentation of the Virgin in Barashy stands in the Bely Gorod, or the White City, a historical part of Moscow where resided the aristocracy and the tsar’s (later – the emperor’s) servants.

In the Soviet times the church was to be demolished, and so several icons were saved by the Tretyakov Gallery. Miraculously, it was not destroyed although it first housed a hostel for workers and then – an electric plant. The restoration works began in 1976, and the sermons resumed in 1993. Between 2015 and 2021 here resided the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova.

Wikipedia: Russian, French.

The church’s official website.

More photos.

More posts in Moscow churches.

Neighbourhood Cam: International Children’s Day Blossoms

June 1st is celebrated as the International Children’s Day. In Russia, we traditionally pay much attention to this festival, as children are believed to be the future.

June 1st is celebrated as the International Children’s Day. In Russia, we traditionally pay much attention to this festival, as children are believed to be the future.

Volunteers in my district today handed out small chocolates to kids and organised an event for all children who were outside at around 4pm. I was sitting in the park reading some Art History books and listening to happy cries and music. On my way back I took some photos of the lavishly blossoming trees.

As for me, in 2016 I organised a special drawing competition among the children in my district. We asked them to illustrate the poems by the famous Soviet poet, Agniya Barto. See the gallery below; it is always touching to see how children see the characters of their favourite poems. Back in 2016, this competition marked both Barto’s 110th anniversary and the International Children’s Day.

Today I look at these images (and I’ve got many more) from a different angle. We must ensure that children, wherever they live, have the right to their basic freedoms. At its heart, the world is not as multifaceted as today’s political agenda proclaims. All children still need two parents of different genders, they need a family, they need access to education and medicine. Above all, they need security and peace to grow and later discover their potential.

More on Russia.

Other posts in Neighbourhood Cam.

Neighbourhood Cam: May Evening

May evening is cold this year. We haven’t had enough rain, so the leaves are taking time to appear. But sakura is about to blossom.

may evening
May in my district in Moscow

May is blossoming slowly this year, and May evening is cold and dry. We haven’t had enough rain, so the leaves are taking time to appear.

I’m going to resurrect my Neighbourhood Cam and Moscow Cam rubrics to get you acquainted with my native places. I will also update some posts where the text was previously lacking, to make them more informative and enjoyable.

The place in the photo (which was actually taken in 2018) is within a 10-minute walk from my house, right opposite the place where I taught English and French for four years. In the vicinity are a few shops, many blocks of flats, a church, and two railway stations.

On May evenings like that in the picture one always wants to slow down. The sunset is about to begin, and, as the evening is cold, the sky is going to turn purple-red. The wind is getting chillier, the cars are few, and so are people. I usually take in this cool air and gaze on the horizon as if it were my personal Waterloo Sunset. I know I am in Paradise here, although it was only recently that my district has become resplendent and posh in some aspects. But I like it this way.

Epiphany 2022

January 19th is a fixed date in the Russian Orthodox calendar. On this day we celebrate Epiphany – the moment when Jesus came to be baptised by St John in the waters of the Jordan River.

You have likely seen the reports of people bathing in the cold water on Epiphany. Bearing in mind Russia’s climate and severe wintery frosts this bathing ritual is more of a popular tradition rather than a requirement endorsed by the Church. In other words, if one doesn’t bathe on Epiphany, there will be no negative implications for their soul.

I have never gone to a designated bathing place but I did take a shower at home at midnight on January 19th. Yet this year I chose to skip doing so, and turned out so did President Putin!

What I did do as usual was to go to my local church for the so-called holy water. This is your regular water that was blessed by the priest. There are usually crowds of people standing in long queues, so I tend to go there late in the evening.

This is what my parish church of St Nicholas looked like on the evening of Epiphany. I’ve just caught myself on a thought that, while I was studying the Tudor period, I was quite fascinated by the terms “parish” and “parishioners”. Even though I was quite irreligious in those days I evidently loved the idea of a community where a church was a perfect gathering place, where people sang hymns and attended sermons. And see, two decades later I’m a parishioner myself…

2022 Calendars Here!

The Russian Seasons calendar go through all 12 months in Moscow, mostly in my neighbourhood.

I was glad to learn that my photo calendars from the previous year was quite popular. I am beginning to add the new ones to my Zazzle store, so please bookmark this post for other artwork. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to the first two 2022 calendars, called “Russian Seasons”.

As you know, I am a keen photographer, and I like to share my photos with you. The Russian Seasons 2022 calendars go through all 12 months in Moscow, mostly in my neighbourhood. There are four months when there is lots of snow; and the long autumn season with a kaleidoscope of colours. There is a blossoming cherry tree and the rich This is a great choice for those who prefer nature to architecture. In another calendar you will see an icy pond in February, pink tulips in May, and a red squirrel in October.

Two Wales calendars feature sweeping landscapes of Denbighshire and Snowdonia. And Roses and Peonies will fill each day of the month with a splash of colour.

Watch out for other 2022 calendars soon. There will be flowers and a few other cities and places throughout the world.

More posts in PhotoFiles.

Freedom, Love, and Vaccination

The humanity has done everything in its capacity to get rid of God but it cannot stop Him being. He is a necessary category for a man’s personal growth. And His principal language is that of Love. Not fear of virus, or greed for money, or hatred towards those who are (not) jabbed.

I’ve just read that in Austria they are locking down the citizens who have not undergone vaccination.

In Russia, Moscow’s officials have been organising a lottery among those who got vaccinated. People could get a new car, a new apartment, or a hefty sum of money.

If you look at things from my angle, you probably think that all this sounds like a bad joke. I mean, why suddenly does vaccination need a material motivation?

Meanwhile, QR-codes have been introduced to all museums and theatres in Moscow, and there are a couple of bills in the making that will make QR-codes mandatory everywhere except municipal transport, chemist’s, and groceries. So if I wish to travel to St Petersburg but I am not jabbed, then I probably won’t be able to unless I undergo a test.

And, of course, officials still claim that vaccination is one’s free choice. Except that, as the above examples show, the choice is taken away.

I realise that a lot of people have been ill. However, I am of a strong conviction that, like during any epidemic, people are not susceptible to just a virus. They fall prey to their own negativity, fear, and the lack of knowledge about their own health. Particularly in Russia, a lot of people in their 60s survived the 1990s when they had to think about making money for the family. For decades people were employed and had no need to improve their financial education. Then suddenly they found themselves in the situation when they had to make their own living. Obviously, they had no time to look after themselves.

And it is this group of people that today is under the biggest threat. Their health “naturally” deteriorated due to hardships. They also did not have the chance to undergo necessary treatments. So when these people get a dose of vaccine, it is possible that it backfires simply because there are health conditions they have not been aware of.

And then there is a group of people who simply cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. What can they do?

My answer is such:

  • we need to take care of our physical body;
  • we should assess our mental health;
  • we have to review our values and mission;
  • and we need to find God in our lives.

I know the last point might appear really strange. The humanity has done everything in its capacity to get rid of God but it cannot stop Him being. He is a necessary category for a man’s personal growth. And His principal language is that of Love. Not fear of virus, or greed for money, or hatred towards those who are (not) jabbed. Only Love to your own self, to the light you bring to this world, and to life that will become dull without you. When you find this Love, you will see how you can share it with others.

I took the image below in summer. I was lying in the grass, and it was about to rain. Suddenly there was the lightning in the sky in the shape of a heart.

Other posts about Covid-19 pandemic in Russia.

Dali-Picasso Exhibition in Moscow (An Overview)

I’ve got a special skill: I’m excellent at visiting exhibitions on their last day. 26th of September was the last day of an exhibition I’ve longed to visit since 2020. In the top photo you see my selfie between Moliere and Honore de Balzac – by Pablo Picasso and below there are several pieces from Salvador Dali’s halls. And whereas Picasso is represented at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Dali’s artwork is mostly in private collections, to my knowledge, at least. To say I was thrilled to visit the exhibition of artwork of two of my favourite painters is clearly an understatement.

Notes on Moscow City Day

I’ve spent an entire day in Moscow city center. I’m sitting in Nikitsky Boulevard, blogging and noticing people walking past. Tomorrow is expected to be overcast but today there were many sunny spells. It was very warm, and is only just beginning to get chilly as the sunset approaches.

Although there are no major celebrations this year due to the pandemic, people went to the city centre to enjoy the good weather and some outdoor events. I mentioned the Soviet photography exhibition, which starts a dozen of meters away from my bench. Another set of events, Flower Jam, apparently lasts until October: there are different flowery displays scattered across the city, starting with Apothecary Garden.

People do wear masks in shops, museums, and on the public transport. Yet in the streets one only remembers about the coronavirus when a mask hanging under someone’s chin pops in the view.

Overall, the weather is almost spring-like, and it feels like there has never been any pandemic…

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