Tag Archives: travel photography

Chicago Style: Through Prism of Phonetics, Colours, Rail Tracks.. and Sparrows

When I visited Chicago just couple weeks ago, for the very first time, I went through two (non) cultural shocks.  that and annoying hungry sparrows. 

1. It is pronounced [Shi-ka-go], as if the old lady who can not make any harder sounds tries to pronounce it. Not sexy, bold, appealing [i-ka-go] like in chess..

just realized how exhausting it will be to express phonetical frustration on paper. 

anyway, it is quite interesting how sounds and phonetical elements of the word are glued so intense into our minds that it is almost impossible to accept new ways of pronunciation. so I guess i will continue Italian gang style, chicago:)

2. Who said Chicago is like New York  (or rather, visa verse but doesn’t really matter)? “Ah, you love NYC? You will love Chicago even more!! ” Nope. The first 5 hours I was there I was jumping, happy-go-lucky, with wide eyes and not less wide open mouth– architecture heaven, same narrow streets with reach-the-sky churches and yay, I found another NYC for myself!! Taking into account I lived in NYC for almost 6 months few years ago, you have all the rights to lift the brow (no, do both of them) onto such statement. Yes, the second half of the very same day I devoted to a very slow realization that Chicago is not the same. It is gangster, mob city. And it is the city of neighbourhoods (maybe 2-3 in total you would want to visit) which are limited to just dozen blocks. 

But I still would love Chicago as any city which forces me to look up and up..

 

Chicago has an open train system- mostly above the ground. This offers fantastic views– not only on the city itself, but also on the whole composition of the city along with rail tracks. Somehow this old, ugly, rusty reddened massive ironmongery blends into the city landscape very harmonically. The lines of skyscrapers, the whole beautiful geometry of colours and styles would just collapse without those rail tracks…

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How about some crazy colours splashing over Chicago? With nice weird effect of prism filter. Although, using colours, I honestly transferred my cheerful coming to terms with the city, yet I could not stop gut feeling it was deserted. Maybe it was part of the long weekend, maybe hot summer days..  I would never imagine Chicago as ghost town– although quite often it felt like one. Some say, it’d file for bankruptcy like Detroit. So not sure if this was just very obvious result of yet another crisis in the row. 

 

Now: Why Lincoln statue has a chair?.. Anyway he stands, so why it was so absolutely necessary to put up the chair there? I understand when the ‘greatest ones’ are featured in work of art with some element they always carried along– hat, glasses, book, naked angry cat — but chair…???

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Well, and least but not last… Meet Chicago real local mob:))

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Desert: a non-sense of place

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As soon as you step into desert, no matter its size and its flora& fauna numbers, you feel completely different vibe and atmosphere. Project_20130324_0001  As if you entered an unknown room and closed the door after yourself. You do not remember roads full with speeding cars nearby, tine towns scrambled around or the life as it is outside. You shut the door and you breathe different air, walk through different time and stand on different ground.

Although the place I hiked through, Joshua National Park, includes desert only partly (actually, parts of two desert, Mojave and Colorado one), it brought the same feeling.

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The time almost stops there. You are blinded by bright sun, unbearable clean blue sky and light but guileful wind. Myriad Joshua Trees look like people’s shadows clinging onto the ground against stormy wind. And of course, the most of scenery is made of gigantic rock formations each having a nickname appropriate to the look and shape. Few times I had this feeling of dreaming, such unrealistic vision was in front of my eyes.


I always loved desert. Like mountains, the desert offers that pure loneliness and tranquility.  It possesses (dangerous) beauty. It possesses silence.

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Saint- Exupery, my favourite author-influencer of my childhood, so to say, had a striking connection with desert. “One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”

Looking into the daylight blue sky, I see white plane crossing over the ghost-like white gigantic moon. Time blends into the silence.

Singapore Tales

I want to share with you my Singapore. Very interesting place.

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Among intriguing features of the city-state what struck me most were wild macaque monkeys wandering on parking lots, ridiculously clean streets, people talking in mysterious Singlish, rich cultural trio “hindu-arabic-chinese” representing the city, business heaven aside to enormous Buddhist Temples spread all over area, nature reserves’ rain forests with myriad species, that special soft type of singaporean rain during rain season, botanical gardens full of silent practitioners of Qigong at 4am, and of course, infamous “benevolent” dictatorship (lovely word combination, isn’t it?).

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Macaques. Although mainly they stay in or nearby nature reserves (images on left and below), one gets feeling that they are wandering around everywhere, even in urban area. You keep hearing their birdish-like crying even when returning to the city, I guess it is their singaporean charisma.

Most of them are occupied with the same kind of species, but some develop quite annoying and terrifying attitude towards people in desperate search for food. And no, they do not appear particularly cute and sweet once you saw their mouth full of sharp, angry, almost vampire teeth.

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No, I’m not exaggerating: you know, bit off finger is not the worst they did to passers by. But, for the sake of a beautiful day and sunshine in my mind, I’m presenting only sweet photographs of them in Fauna gallery.

I think I will devote the whole separate post to photos of those macaques, too much to tell and show to fit here.

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Singlish. Incredible language, basically it is English-based Creole spoken in Singapore. Every single tourist guide assured me that everybody speaks English there. No, it is not English: maybe it is based on it, but except of some basic vocabulary words, everything else is far from being related. No good lah’– sorry, no idea what you just said to me.

Obviously, nobody could understand me out there.

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Botanical Gardens at 4ish am is something unforgettable. You feel morning with your lungs, the air is so fresh and silent. The same silence is kept among people who woke up that early for jog, qigong practice, or just simple meditation.

We pass by each other, we smile, say “good morning”– but almost whispering. On isolated hill stands monk and meditates flowing above the ground. Several groups of (mostly) old ladies practice qigong, hidden behind enormous bushes.

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It might sound strange but these gardens were only ones to leave me actual feeing of being in Orient, of touching complete opposite side of the world.

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I came just in time for startup of rain season: November-December. The rain in Singapore is very punctual, by the way. You can check your watch with the rain: every day it started at the same exact time, and stopped hour or so later. The intervals were very convenient for planning the day. My huge surprise came when on the first day I noticed that the more rain is falling, the drier I become. Because of the climate, you don’t feel that it is actual rain. It is very soft (almost silky), and has the tendency to miss you with the raindrops falling too far from each other. I do not know how else to describe this phenomenon.

Buddhist Temples. The least I saw in there was trace of religion. I saw touch of death with crematorium and several rows of tablets with photos on them, I saw devoted following of traditions, I saw simplicity and space, I saw the thin trace of history. I did not see any belief, though.

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Little praying man

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Singapore remained in my imagery as Orient collage, as a westernized society and mosaic of colours, thick humidity and forgotten history.

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