‘Been exploring the “Military Town” section of Kandalaksha today

Most of the photos below are of the “Officers House”, built in the late 1930s, served as the town’s major concert hall till 2010, then the army was unable to maintain and closed it after which the best building in Kandalaksha went through a series of fires that damaged it beyond repair. The last one was in March or April 2013.

Now the building is used as a dangerous playground for tough Russian kids. Towards the end of the series of photos you’ll see some looking down from what remains of the roof. Stairs lack railing and invite anyone with a suicidal tendency or just a dizziness spell to a 30 foot drop.

Fire 21 April 2013, when the building was damaged almost beyond hope. Weather and vandals will soon do the rest.

The one next door (6-8 photos at the very end) is what’s left of the military hospital. Lots more ruins, especially in this part of town, but the Officers House is the most spectacular of them all.

Refreshingly bad news of Murmansk and region

Funny I haven’t run into http://severpost.ru/ before. Headlines from a random issue: Taxi Driver Shot, Apartment Building Sinking, Big Official Arrested, Yet Another Drug Bust, Migrants Get Out of Murmansk Demonstration, Giant Snake Escapes from Zoo, Sinister Cults in Murmansk, Mass Food Poisoning, US Citizens Want Putin for President, Multi-Car Accident..

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Thomas W. Knox The Boy Travellers in the Russian Empire, 1887

thomas_w_knoxWhat a delight and a powerful 5pm pick-me-upper!

Full scan on archive.org >>

A summary in the blog of the Russian in Children’s Book Museum:
Part 1 ~ Part 2

The emphasis is on the practicalities of travel, knowing the difficulties and dangers of Russian roads, and staying safe.

Adding to Pasha’s corner > Backgroun reading.


flagIt’s a frenzy of “patriotism” and flags sell like hotcakes.

This one was noticed in a alterations shop. The price, 1500 roubles, is about $45. Yes, $45 for a synthetic made in China Russian flag.

Demand for patriotic paraphernalia is usually followed by a serious for coffins and assoicated stuff. That may be the business to get into. Tourists, off whom I’ve been making a living for the last 18 years, are unlikely to come here in any number, and the few clients I’ve been lucky to get don’t form any dissernible pattern except that they’ve all fallen for the “no job too small, few too weird” line, the second part. Can’t build a strategy around it. Coffins may be the next hot item.

Dirt demystified

First-time visitors to Russia often express surprise at the amount of mud, slush or dust, depending on the time of the year, on roads here. This article from tema.livejournal.com, that I’m even tempted to translate into English although pictures make the story almost obvious, explains why it happens here but not in other countries with similar climate. Highly recommended whether you seek to satisfy curiosity or are on a search for the cultural code. That’s why I’m placing this recommendation for the mud story to the Background reading category.

It’s getting closer

oleg-hait-arrestedThis is the first time someone I personally know got arrested. Oleg Hait was detained and shortly released (no details) for holding a piece of paper with a dove on it. Two days ago heard one of Kandalaksha “intelligentsia” complain of threats “rip off (his) face” for being “against Russia”, and being “against” presently means not being overjoyed about the “incursion” into Ukraine.

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Don’t talk to strangers

I don’t like ethnic stereotypes either but a couple of days ago we had a classic Gypsy attempt on our property. First, they ask an innocent questions, then a small favour, but very soon they proclaim eternal gratitude and swear they are your brothers and sisters, and as a sign of friendship here is this amulet that’s been in the family for generations as a gift, and now, since we are bound by common fate, you will of course lend us some $$ till we get a transfer from home tomorrow..

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Carry your passport/visa/registration on you even outside Moscow

policeRandom police checkes are, apparently, not a Moscow-only phenomenon. Yesterday I spoke to a chap, considerably more respectable that me in appearance and manner, who nevertheless is stopped by the police with uncomfortable regularity. This winter that happened twice. I could not get all the details from him because it was, he said, “too unpleasant to talk about”.

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