Thursday, 12 August 2010
Kazan and Tatarstan Ravings
Does Tartar sauce come from Tatarstan? I HAVE to find this out immediately after this post.
Kazan was my first breakjourney on the Trans-Siberian.
Actually it's not quite the Trans-Siberian route. I'm quite proud of myself for finding my own route that the old lonely planet guide doesn't mention (which I'm ripping up as I go, and is 10 years old so some crucial stuff is out of date). It seems there may be another alternative route that dips into Kazakhstan, which I might try out on the way back too. Can you really say you've lived if you've never been to Kazakhstan?*
Kazan was dead pretty, and I'll stick up some photos of what was once its pedestrianised mainstreet and central bazaar, but is currently being pulled down, or possibly rebuilt with just the facades remaining from the original. Very beautiful.
I was very sad to find no anarchist graffiti, but you'd hardly expect it in a tourist unesco heritage hotspot. There were swastikas, though.
Actually, swastikas are confusing. Okay in Germany a swastika would be fascist harking back to the Nazis. Probably the case is the same in Russia - it certainly would be in 'european' Russia. But originally the swastika was nicked as an eastern/asian symbol by anti-semitic nutters like Baron Ungern von Sternburg. In HIS case, he reckoned he was a Buddhist war-god bringing vengeance and a new aristocratic/mongolian-Buddhist regime on the atheistic and Jewish commies. Most of his troops were non-european (Mongolian, Chinese, or most significantly the 'non-european' Russians, like Buryats). AND he tried to raise divisions of troops from the fringe ethic groups of Russia, INCLUDING TARTARS. You see where I'm going with this. So the Swastika on his flag, for example, was certainly racist but NOT against the non-european tatars of Kazan. Which means if I see graffiti saying ACAB** with a swastika, I can only be 90% certain it's fascist, and aimed against Tatars by ethnically 'european' russians locally. It remains just possible it could be a weird nutty anti-state pro-asian tradition graffiti!
No, I haven't persuaded myself.
Anyway, a few pictures will follow of the nice buildings here. I wish I'd gone swimming in the Volga but I'm still too nervous about bus tickets.
* Answer: er, yes.
** Universal for 'all coppers are b******s'