alper.jpg

HELLO!

I’m Alper Kokcu. Join my journey where I am exploring cultures and ideas via the connection of art, nature and architecture.

Victory Day in Russia

Victory Day in Russia

I woke up and went to kitchen to prepare breakfast. Normally me and my wife always have our breakfast together. But last night we argued, so she woke up before me and had her breakfast alone. But I realized that she prepared for two. It must be the habits.

Then I turned on TV to check the news. A Russian channel showed up. It must be her who left on this one.

Their victory parade was online. Russian Army was marching again at Red Square. Then memories showed up in my mind. Exactly 11 years ago*, I watched this parade in Moscow. Not in front of a TV, but there (not in the Red Square but quite close) in the crowd with some Russian friends next to me.

It was my first year in Russia. First days even! It has been around a month only.

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 63rd anniversary. 9 May 2008.

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 63rd anniversary. 9 May 2008.

As many, who knows Russia from Soviet movies and novels, I myself also was trying to catch those ‘fake’ images in real life, in the streets of Moscow. Since I was quite new, I couldn’t find any but with this parade they were working on that a lot.

Heavy armored strong vehicles, grumbling tanks, marching armies and noisy jets above you does make you feel that the Soviets exist!

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 63rd anniversary. 9 May 2008.

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 63rd anniversary. 9 May 2008.

For a newcomer it is quite interesting though. Not like many tourists there, you are with your local friends and you know their lives before and after such events. Back then I was just enjoying a real time Soviet movie, but after living eight years there I developed different kind of feelings on this.

Young Alper with his local friends. 9 May 2008.

Young Alper with his local friends. 9 May 2008.

While in Moscow, people are pushing their limits by enjoying every kind of opportunity a big city can offer them; when you get outside of Moscow, you are facing a different story. In the capital you are seeing people who are proud of the Never-Sleeping-Moscow’s night life and new coffee houses and breweries which are spreading rapidly. But outside of this zone, in the towns (even those which are close to Moscow), people’s eyes speak differently.

Do you wonder what is going on after the parade? 9 May 2008.

Do you wonder what is going on after the parade? 9 May 2008.

There they have different scales, different time zones and different expectations from life. Of course I cannot claim that I know this by heart. Also it is not a discussion to point out which one is better. It is just a feeling, a memory of mine. This marching army made me think all of these, ask them if you are searching answers.

Then I realized how non-friendly, non-democratic, non-sensitive these parades are. As a tourist or an expat, you can find joyful moments there but when you step back, it doesn’t make sense at all.

Of course, it's party time! What’s the point to all those noise, right? 9 May 2008.

Of course, it's party time! What’s the point to all those noise, right? 9 May 2008.

Although those Muscovites were cheering and shouting and showing their every-single-proud muscles, -after all- they were just joining a huge party, if I may tell so. Because the next day, they continue their life without the hammer-and-sickle flags. Their life, which starts with a coffee from a coffee-house-chain, which then continues in their salary-based jobs and finishes in a pub with a tasty ale, who knows from where.

The wall paintings at the Moscow Metro Station ‘Victory Park’. 9 May 2008.

The wall paintings at the Moscow Metro Station ‘Victory Park’. 9 May 2008.

Yes, this is the big city life people and there are some more in the big city who cannot afford such big city life. I am aware of that. But all these are the parts of the big picture: the reality of our today’s modern world.  And in that modern world, there is no space for army vehicles, no matter how hard politicians will continue to try to make us believe so.

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 70th anniversary. 9 May 2015.

Victory Day in Moscow, Russia. 70th anniversary. 9 May 2015.

Then I realized that I never had a Russian girlfriend during that eight-years period. They all were Soviets! None of them were born after 1991. Including my wife. So I have a Soviet wife, what the heck I am talking about with this parade, right?

Veterans dancing in Moscow on Victory Day. 70th anniversary. 9 May 2015.

Veterans dancing in Moscow on Victory Day. 70th anniversary. 9 May 2015.

Because by talking about ‘Soviet’ I mean every kind of nostalgia, every country or every human being can have. This doesn’t mean that we should forget our history, not at all! On the contrary, we should just hug them indeed. But why always with the same approach? Why it has to be military or nationalist based?

Though I do like that they are cutting the cars off the streets on just events! 9 May 2015.

Though I do like that they are cutting the cars off the streets on just events! 9 May 2015.

That’s why, while for some Russians, being Soviet is just about a date; for some others it is something which is still alive, as these parades show. But when they will face with the reality that this living creature has only couple of minutes of life which shows up only once or twice in a year.

I am hoping to march together without any flags but with colorful dresses and maybe while singing peaceful songs. Why not?

After the celebrations of the Victory Day in Moscow. Did you catch the high heels over there? 9 May 2015.

After the celebrations of the Victory Day in Moscow. Did you catch the high heels over there? 9 May 2015.


*Russians celebrates 9th of May as the Victory Day, as it commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945.

Chris Precht at Bilkent University

Chris Precht at Bilkent University

Chapel of Reconciliation

Chapel of Reconciliation