When Cee posted this week’s photo challenge of domes, my thoughts went to this photo I took of the golden domes of Catherine’s Palace outside of St. Petersburg, Russia. It also brought up the conflict I experience when I look at some lithographs I have hanging in our bedroom, purchased at the Peter & Paul Fortress. My daughter had lived and worked in St. Petersburg for a year shortly after perestroika. She invited me to accompany her for a return visit in 2004, and her friend agreed to sponsored us for a visa and then allowed us to stay with her in her apartment. Her friend was a marvelous host, opening up so many opportunities to meet people and experience the culture. My daughter knew the city so we would explore during the day while her friend worked and then we would spend the evening with the family, sometimes attending events. What fun we had communicating because her friend is fluent in English, her daughter knows some German, and my daughter is fluent in German and knows some Russian.
Now the Russian government is our enemy because they committed a hostile act against our democracy by interfering in our election process. Does my desire to display representations of their history and culture make it seem to others that I am complicit in condoning their intellectual and technological aggression? Should I burn and break all these artifacts of this evil “other?” Should I shun my Soviet-born daughter-in-law who is intelligent, loving, beautiful, kind and fun to be with?
No, I won’t. I don’t have a world view that there is a broad “other” who is different than I and thus bad and evil. Yes, the Russian government is a bad player and is an enemy of our country, but I am still going to celebrate the strong and courageous people born on that foreign soil. I will enjoy the brilliant composers, dancers, and artists that the country produced. I will fondly remember and celebrate the beauty of St. Petersburg and remember with fondness all the people I met and encountered. Travel always whets my curiosity about the history and culture of the places I visit so I will continue to read about it and now to also stay knowledgeable about their current political system and the players in Russia and the U.S. who colluded to impact on the outcome of our last election. This helps me to clarify what I value in my own culture and political system, and see more clearly what parts of our culture and political system need to be fixed. And I will celebrate my daughter-in-law, her family, and other friends who have emigrated from that region of the world.
Jake, over at jakesprinter, did it again with a fun challenge. This week’s Sunday Post is Unforgettable. I didn’t want to forget this one so I went to work on it right away. Of course I started thinking about photographs and my most memorable ones – the ones I look at the most and thus are the most unforgettable – are the ones from my travels. Even before I opened my many files of travel photographs I realized that what I remembered most about these trips were the people.
I have gathered together photographs of the people, not because the photographs are unforgettable. These aren’t in the same league as the young girl with the green eyes. These are ordinary snapshots of people who are beautiful because they shared a part of their life with me. They opened their homes to me. They shared their table and their food. They shared their life story. They invited me to parties and laughed with me. They looked into my eyes and smiled at me.
When I look at these pictures I am flooded with memories. There are many great stories behind these pictures – some of which you can find on this blog. Some are waiting to be put in words. But here are the faces of people in Russia and Kyrgyzstan who invited me into their lives.
As I was preparing this post, I was also thinking of all the wonderful people I met in Switzerland, England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany that I don’t have digitized pictures of.
Here’s to all the people who have touched us in so many ways – in ways that make them unforgettable.
I was thinking through all the things that have felt foreign to me as I have traveled, like language:
Signs in Ireland
And the familiar that isn’t so familiar:
Wedding Party in St. Petersburg, Russia
And architecture that is strange like this in Kyrgyzstan:
Village of Tomchy on Issy Kul
It has been foreign to see how familiar foods are used differently, like the potatoes that were cut in half, put back together with a piece of chicken skin between and then put on a charcoal grill. I had some anxiety about eating a piece of slimy chicken skin but that was discarded – the purpose being to cook the inside of the potato and to add flavor. Very good.
Eating Potatoes at Dacha outside St. Petersburg, Russia
However the most recent experience of “life feeling foreign” was our transition from living at our northern home –
Driving up to Michigan Home
to living in our southern US home!
Turning into Driveway of Florida Home
We change from north to south and back to north again four times a year and each time the new environment feels foreign. Not only the landscape but also where I keep the silverware and scotch tape.
Ahhh, now I can eat my morning cereal.
To see more posts from the Weekly Photo Challenge – Foreign or to add your own fun entry go to the Daily Post at WordPress.com
What a wonderful theme this week – I only wish I had known about it earlier, like eight years ago when I spent two weeks in St. Petersburg, Russia. I have recently been going through my photographs thinking about themes I could use to share what I saw at that time. This theme gives me the opportunity to focus on how things were displayed for sale. For our friends who live there, these images are everyday sites, but to us they are somewhat different but also in many ways the same as how we sell and buy our daily goods.
You have already met Anna (in the striped sweater), who is buying potatoes for our supper when staying in a dacha with her family.
Anna Buying Potatoes at Farmer’s Stand near Datcha
Kiosk in St. Petersburg, Russia
Meat Stall in Bazaar
Neon above Escalator in Subway
Pastry Selection in Cafe DoReMix
Street Refreshment in St. Petersburg, Russia
Market outside Church of the Resurrection of Christ
To learn more about this theme and see more posts click here.
Ailsa posted a new travel theme, signs, on her blog Where’s My Backpack? I will be collecting signs as I am traveling to Newfoundland, but remembered this one from my trip to St. Petersburg, Russia in 2004.
I believe the translation is: The world changes. Big Mac stays the same. This was just a few years after Perestroika.
They hadn’t taken over St. Petersburg, Russia at that time. For our Russian bloggers, how popular is McDonalds in Russia now?