Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Best Photos Yet

When I see something beautiful while at home, I try to snap a shot of it if I've got a camera on me. Not to brag later, no, but to have something to hold on to as I grow and change, something to look back to as a token of my roots, reminder of the person that I am and will always be. A Turkmen. Born in the Soviet Union, but living in democracy and capitalism. Taught in the East, though educated in the West. Raised in one millennium and living in the other. Studying last century - learning about the next. My home city, along with my native culture, is changing every hour. It grows but doesn't lose its trends, patterns and direction. Beautiful in daylight, it shines even brighter at night. And as it represents me today, I'd like it to do so even better tomorrow. The tasks I dwell upon are the tasks that worry my culture as well. Battling conformity to reserve individuality by combining conformity with enough individuality. Modernizing the traditional without changing it.
I'm no photographer but these are my best photos of home yet. One is a historical statue turned into a centerpiece for a modern park downtown and another is a childhood attraction renovated and moved to a more contemporary region of the city.

Another Guinness Record Goes to...Turkmenistan

May 18th is annually celebrated in Central Asia as the Day of Revival, Unity and Poetry. Turkmenistan is no outsider to these celebrations. In 2012, the day was even more special: as part of the celebration, the planet's largest ferris wheel in an enclosed space (setting a new Guinness record) was unveiled in the country's capital (which also happens to be my home) city, Ashgabat. Inside a massive glass/white steel casing decorated with a giant 8-point star, lies a 47.6-meter-structure that holds (and spins, of course) 24 six-seat cabins. This structure is part of a new entertainment complex called "Anem" (translated from Turkmen as "the universe") that was opened to the public along with the new ferris wheel. I had the chance to see the place for myself a month ago (June 2012). It is truly nothing like one would have ever seen before and is surrounded by a great park area with fountains. At night, it's filled with young people as it is beautifully lit and is currently "the next big thing", so to speak, not only for tourists but also the city residents themselves. Like me. Came with my family and loved it.
It should be known that Turkmenistan is no newcomer to the Guinness Book of Records. On the Day of Revival, Unity and Poetry of 2011 (last year), Turkmenistan unveiled its answer to the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. An 185-meter pillar devoted to the country's constitution was presented in the Ashgabat city.
The "Arch of Constitution" is now one of the most memorable sights in the capital city - decorated with 5 Turkmen national ornaments in gold, it is also surrounded by beautiful fountains, a great park and has 2 viewing decks.
Besides the 2 world records described already, Turkmenistan boasts to have the world's tallest flagpole, the longest carpet, the "largest star-shaped architectural feature" and the "largest cluster of fountains in a public space". Personally, the fountain record makes most sense to me because my home city has so many fountains that on a hot summer afternoon one will see that there are more fountains per square kilometer than people.