Monday, May 24, 2010

Lenin Lives... sortof.

There’s a statue of Lennon in Havana and a statue of Lenin in Bishkek. Which of the two men do you think has his statue in Seattle? I’ll tell you in a minute…

Trivia questions aside, the other day I paid a visit to Mr. Lenin’s statue in the city center as it has been on my list since I arrived. It seems the longer I spend here the more my fascination grows about this former Soviet Republic’s communist coping strategies.
Ala-Too Square

Ala-Too Square is wide expanse of space and central to downtown. Many of the city’s most important buildings are a stone’s throw from it. Recently this square was the scene of violence and bloodshed during the revolution, as it is only a block away from the Parliament house which was overtaken by an anger mob on April 7th.

I learned that for many decades the centerpiece of Ala-Too Square was a massive Lenin statue. However, befitting of Kyrgyzstan’s “gone but not forgotten” mentality towards its Soviet days, Lenin has been relegated a block away behind the history museum and a statue of freedom and independence took over the spotlight.
Lenin Lives... sortof.

His oversized statue stands in relative anonymity. No commemorative inscription, no name tag, no nothing. I asked a coworker of mine what the youth think of him now. She chuckles and admits half embarrassed, “we don’t know Lenin now, we know Michael Jackson”.

I set out on a sunny afternoon to find him for myself. Knowing I was close my frustration grew when I couldn’t work out what building he was behind. Then, turning a corner I saw Lenin. His right arm outstretched, proudly pointing, I assume, in the direction of his glory days. North, towards Russia. Or was he pointing towards Seattle?


Cheryl said...

SO which is it? Lennon or Lenin? Or do I have to go to Seattle to find out? I have so enjoyed reading your translation of life in Bishkek to the life you knew before. Keep up the brilliant work.

Brad said...

Cheryl, thank you for your comment. To answer your question, there is Lenin statue in the Fremont district in Seattle. by clicking on the last sentence you will be taken to a link that describes the history of the statue in Seattle. Sorry for the confusion, it is known as an embedded link.

Cheryl said...

Well - duh....should have known that intuitively. Thanks for the pointer.

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