Unfortunately the bad weather up in the mountains drove us back into town. That said, the exposure to fresh air (down in Almaty the air is quite polluted and one can feel the smog quite drastically), cold rain and, uh, fresh air had made us rather hungry. While it was not quite evening it still felt a good idea to go back to the lovely Georgian Restaurant Daredjani we had visited before. And a success it was again. Khachapuri, spinach with walnuts, veal shashlik (extremely tasty marinated veal) and chingale.
The picture above shows a glass with a green lemonade: the coriander lemonade was a distinct highlight. Probably not to everybody’s liking, but very tasty and definitely lemonade with, well, coriander flavour. A wonderful meal in a really nice restaurant. The meal was accompanied by a glass of Chateau Mukhrani Shavkapito, a Georgian red white out of an endemic grape – a perfect match. Hmmmm.
After all that food it was time to explore the city. The Daredjani restaurant is right adjacent to the Panfilov Park, a pleasant park which houses one of Almaty’s most interesting sites, the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. Apart from the fact that it is an interesting building with a very ornamental inside the level of devotion shown by predominantly older ladies (who put on a headscarf when they entered the church), but also some younger people (who lit candles for reasons that had nothing to do with luminal darkness) was mind boggling. Probably not if you are a devoted Christian yourself, but if you tend to look at religion and its impact on society with some scepticism then it is a rather strange experience. Talking about strange experiences: not to far away from the church is a War Memorial, which seems to be a meeting place for weddings on weekends. Let’s start with the weddings:
Now, let’s look at the main part of the memorial a little bit closer – just to make it clear: I personally think that war is one of the most horrible ideas that mankind produced. I also understand, that the soldiers fighting in these wars don’t necessarily find the idea of fighting in a war appealing at all. And I thank Henri Dunant for kickstarting the Geneva Convention to reduce suffering for injured soldiers and the civil population (I don’t thank the US of A for violating the very spirit of that convention with their wonderful prison at Guantanamo). Nevertheless, what has to be said, has to be said.
Folks, wars are terrible. And any display that gets people to understand just how bad they are is good. But depicting a helmet-clad version of the Incredible Hulk with Soviet Union shaped wings with faces growing out of them misses the point. Obviously, I got it all wrong and this memorial is supposed to remind people of the heroes of war and invite them to think about the next battle. “Russia is huge but there is nowhere to retreat since Moscow is behind us.” as inscription is a bit of a giveaway. Now, I don’t think that the population of modern day Kazakhstan needs this kind of message any more.