Carpe Diem Haiku *Vladivostok*

Vladivostok ( Владивосток ), a city not far from Russia’s borders with China and North Korea, is also known as a city of centenarians. There are about 100 people who are more than 100 years old but I want to mention another fact, related to inhabitants, beliefs and history. On May 16th, 1863 was born the very first native inhabitant of the city – a girl, and in September of the same year – two more girls. There is a Russian belief that a birth of a girl is a sign of peace in the world. They say it might be one of the reasons why Vladivostok has never been significantly affected by war.

A special sign in the Vladivostok railway station informs that Trans-Siberian Railroad, coming all the way from Moscow, ends here. There are 9288 km (5771.3 miles) behind us and it also means we have reached the last station of our Carpe Diem Haiku journey through the Soviet Union. Only this journey because there’ re still more ahead…

* * *
journey of life
final destination unknown
train leaves the station

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Sometimes it is good to finish with music and I will – with “Fantastica” by Mumiy Troll, a famous Russian band from Vladivostok.

Carpe Diem Haiku *Khabarovsk*

Being visualizer, I have not only enjoyed the new cities, discovered on this Carpe Diem Haiku journey but also been quite fascinated by their coats of arms (that I always have a peek at). The current one of Khabarovsk (Хабаровск), the second largest city in the Russian Far East, is almost like a Russian nesting doll matryoshka with the first two coats of arms incorporated in it.

khabarovsk_coatofarms

The Ussurian black bear and the Amur tiger are the main figures in the coat of arms – these animals are endemic to the Amur land. From a heraldic point of view a bear symbolizes strength and foresight but a tiger signifies great fierceness and valor. Both animals act as defenders of the city and have the historical coat of arms of Khabarovsk in their paws. The lazuli pillar in the old coat of arms is the symbol of the River Amur while the fish reminds about the main occupation of the inhabitants of the city. Not so much visible but still very present are the two fire-breathing hills on the top left corner – the active volcanoes. The crown on top is an emblem of victory, of course, as well as of sovereignty and empire. Last but not least – “1858”, the year when Khabarovsk was founded.

Red, white and blue on the background of the coat of arms are three equal parts of colors of the Russia’ s national flag. Looking at the meaning of all colours in the Khabarovsk coat of arms, red symbolizes bravery, courage, fearlessness; lazuli – beauty, gentleness, greatness; black symbolizes wisdom, humility, sadness; gold – a symbol of wealth, justice, generosity but silver –  independence, cleanliness, good. Quite a combination, isn’t it?

* * *
no bears or tigers
stories encoded in scars
– my own coat of arms

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Image courtesy of Google

Carpe Diem Haiku *Amur River*

The Amur River (Амур) is the world’s tenth longest river, forming the border between the Russian Far East and Northeastern China. It is also the place where the Siberia’s black gold – black caviar comes from. Kaluga (a large preadotory sturgeon) is the largest of fish species in the Amur and for the valuable roe it has been hunted to near extinction .

Being one of the strongest aphrodisiacs, black caviar contains a big number of vitamins, minerals and microelements that provide proper metabolism, nourish and strengthen the nerve cells and help to improve sexual performance.

High prices of caviar must not be a surprise to anyone – not only because of its quality but also because of the decreasing population of sturgeons. The largest purchase of caviar in history was made by American musician George Benson – he bought over 3 tons of caviar for the guests of his 50th birthday party and spent 3 million USD. Makes me wonder if they hadn’ t forgotten about using silverware since it is the only metal that doesn’ t worsen the taste of caviar.

* * *
caviar
in silver spoon
aphrodisiac

* * *
taste buds delighted
we savour every moment
night is still young

* * *
oozing desire
moist bodies entangled
shudder in pleasure

 * * *

caviar_amur

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Image courtesy of Google

Carpe Diem Haiku *Chita*

City Chita (Чита) is situated in the Eastern Siberia, right where the river Chita meets the river Inogoda. There are only two cities in the world where on the same hill at the same time are three temples of three different religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and Chita is one of them. In the ancient part of the city on the top of the hill (the old prison use to be there, too) there is a synagogue, a mosque and an orthodox church. This is why Chita is called also “the second Jerusalem”.

* * *

chita_haiku

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Carpe Diem Haiku *Irkutsk*

If you look at the modern map of the Russian Federation, Irkutsk is located almost in the middle on the line, connecting St.Petersburg to the Kuril Islands. Thus we could assume Irkutsk is the unofficial center of Russia, at least geographically. It might be one of the reasons why the inhabitants of the city have come up with the proverb “If you haven’ t been in Irkutsk, you haven’ t been in Russia”. After all – centre is centre! 

At this point of the journey I decide to hop off the train a bit after Irkutsk to experience something that takes my breath away at once. Yes, there is a true gem of nature in Irkutsk region – lake Baikal. Also known as the “Galapagos of Russia”, the Baikal is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world’s total unfrozen freshwater reserve. There are 336 rivers that flow into the lake but only one – the Angara that flows out of it. The landscape surrounding the lake basin, with its mountains, boreal forests, tundra, lakes, islands and steppes, is exceptionally picturesque.

* * *
moving mountains
back and forth with every wave
stillness in time

* * *

lake_baikal
Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Carpe Diem Haiku *Tayshet*

In the mid-1970s there was a very popular expression among the young people across the Soviet Union – “to go to build the BAM”. In fact it was more than just an expression – like a hope, a dream… Or the plan for the bravest ones. Partly a duty, being a good Soviet citizen who helps to build his/her country but partly it was also about adventure out in the wild Siberia.

The very first kilometer of the BAM (“The Baikal–Amur Mainline” – broad gauge railway line in Russia) is in Tayshet, with the mainline streaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Sovetskaya Gavan. By the end of 1974 approximately 50 000 young people from all the 156 000 applicants had moved to the BAM service area. In 1975 and 1976 there were inaugurated 28 new settlements there as well as built 70 new bridges, including the Amur and Lena ones. Although In 1930s one section of the BAM was built by the Gulag system labor camp inmates, in 1970s the Soviet General Secretary L.Brezhnev announced that the BAM will be contructed with clean hands only, rejecting any use of prison labor.

* * *
empty bus stop
road disappears in morning mist
time to follow dreams

* * *
Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Carpe Diem Haiku *Yenisei River*

Bahtia is the taiga village on the Yenisei River (Енисе́й) where indigenous people live according to the laws of nature, their own values and cultural traditions, with their daily routine barely changed over the last century. There are no roads in the village and the movement takes place according to the “state” of the Yenisei – in sleighs (8 months a year there’ s the desert of ice around) or in boats. Post gets delivered once a week by a helicopter, the nearest doctor’ s office and police station is 150km (almost 94 miles) away down the river. No government, taxes or any social restrictions – only freedom. There are around 250 people in Bahtia and only 50 of them receive salary. All the others are into hunting (animal trapping) and fishing.

“Happy People” – that’ s the title a German film producer Werner Herzog came up with for his documentary about Bahtia. Why not? After all those are the last leftovers of the natural happy life, nowadays pretty much lost for and forgotten about by the European civilization.

* * *
samovar steam
dogs and snowshoes at the barn
ready to go
 
* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku *Krasnoyarsk*

gulag_winter_photo

Krasnoyarsk (Красноярск) was a major center of the Gulag (government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems from the 1930s through the 1950s) system during the Stalin era. The most important labor camp was the Kraslag or Krasnoyarsky ITL (1938-1960) with two units located in Kansk and Reshyoty but there was also the Yeniseylag or Yeniseysky ITL labor camp in the city of Krasnoyarsk.

About 14 million people were deported to the Gulag labor camps from 1929 to 1953. Some estimates for total number of deaths there go beyond 10 million.

* * *
dead silence of taiga
pine resin drop frozen in palm
glimpsing memories

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Image courtesy of Google

Carpe Diem Haiku *Novosibirsk*

Since the moment of its founding City Novosibirsk grew into two parts on different shores of the River Ob. And not only the river kept everything apart – Novosibirsk had also 2 different time zones. On the left bank the time difference with Moscow was 3 hours, but on the right – 4. This situation wasn’ t too inconvenient for Novosibirsk because they lived apart, and even marriages between people from the opposite shores of the city happened rarely. The city became more cohesive in 1955, when there was built the first bridge across the Ob. Novosibirsk became “a single time zone” city in 1958.

* * *
between two shores
river never runs late
rooster crows twice

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai

Carpe Diem Haiku *Ob River*

Originating from glaciers of the Altay Mountains and crossing several climatic zones on its way, the Ob River (Обь) flows through the West Siberian Plain to the Kara Sea (part of the Arctic Ocean), forming delta of 4000 square kilometers. The Ob River basin is in the first place in Russia on the number of fish caught. There are around 50 different species of fish there, 50% of which are caught for industrial purposes. Peculiarities of the national fishing in Russia? A couple of friends, enough vodka and a river. Everything else varies…

* * *
once a glacier
river runs towards the sea
metamorphose

* * *
in boat for hours
patience is a virtue
sounds fishy

* * *
great expectations
entangled in fishing line
i catch the sunrise

* * *

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai