top of page

essays | places


when in winter


Astana / Kazakhstan · 2018   golden globe




   It is good to arrive to a cold place well expecting the cold, which makes it a little warmer. When I stepped off the bus in downtown Astana (as it was called back then), the air was crisper than it was painful, and the prickly sensation of freezing nostrils reminded me of Canadian winter. Of course, before long, the smart designs of my moderated expectations fell back in step with reality’s factualities and I was as cold as one is supposed to be far below zero and without a buff winter jacket. Astana’s cocky boulevards were wide and straight, and the wind had a field day with them. With the snow-peppered gusts whooshing through my legs, they would get awfully stiff long before my mind would – always pushing headlong into the white – and one time I had to seek shelter in a mall because I could feel that my thighs were coming to a full, petrified halt in the form of jeans-colored icicles. I had little desire to end up trapped inside a statue of myself just then, with my thoughts racing through my legs unable to persuade them, even though I would have fit right in with the boardgame-look of Astana – just another accidental figure sprouting from the frozen Steppe.

Compared to Astana’s tall and glassy razzmatazz, Almaty was so down-to-earth that it was almost undergroundish with its utilitarian pastel grids and institutional, desolate building blocks. Sadly, the mountains were covered in winter smog and I could only guess them.


a glimpse


what a fine firm hand to rule with Mr. President


Astana/ Kazakhstan · 2018   presidential splendor

overland gas in baby pipelines


Almaty/ Kazakhstan · 2018   residential candor

Residential house and overland gas pipe in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Young Kazakh women in a kitchen in Astana

must have been something in the horse meat


Astana/ Kazakhstan · 2018   putting on a show

passages   WOULD YOU RATHER | Would you rather be fed and safe, or free and wild? Would you rather take care or get care? Would you rather share a shelter with all the others or be alone in the streets? Would you rather stay stray or go domestic? Would you rather put up with a -30 °C Kazakh winter or be put down?







places / stories

Astana (Nur-Sultan) / The Surreal Deal

arbitrary travel moments you never would have guessed


I’m sleeping the dreamy sleep of unusual travel routine. But every now and then, I wake up to the absurd reality of a situation I never could have imagined, and the vast randomness of these instances does more than render them surreal from the outside – it makes me surreal, on the inside, my feelings, my thoughts, my being.






Almaty / If I Hadn’t Been

statue and apartment building in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty / Kazakhstan · 2018   petrified elasticity

Somebody had made me as a tourist. Maybe it was the towering magma-colored backpack protruding from my spine that always gave it away all too effortlessly. But I had made him too, as a pickpocket or mugger or con artist or other slippery personage. There was a chance that the subsequent chase was a figment of my imagination, but then again my imagination is a rusty toy, immobilized by the heavy certainties of adulthood, and the gut feeling was well-informed fact, and so was the order of events: he came down the street I was walking up; he said something to me which I evaded with a mumble and unbroken steps; despite my maneuver I couldn’t even remotely pass off as local and at best I had gained a status of “primed;“ when I looked back he had changed direction and was now following me at a distance; he replicated my every artificial turn. Well then. It was that early, empty morning hour after a night train, so I kept to Almaty’s larger streets where things were slowly waking up. Every now and then I stopped for a weighty pause to let him know with my stern eyes that I saw him. At some point he spoke to someone before disappearing down some road and in my head he had handed off the “chase” to an accomplice, or split it with him. My accommodation wasn’t exactly central or easy to find, which disadvantaged me as the rabbit. The closer I got, the more I zigzagged, deliberately and inadvertently in equal measure all the while getting ready for… something. Well, I made it. What exactly, I don’t know.


Almaty / Kazakhstan · 2018   asphalt artery


Almaty / Kazakhstan · 2018   antennae


Almaty / Kazakhstan · 2018   dusk on slush

The city was smeared with winter grime – mocha slush all over the floor and a sooty sky all the way up to the ceiling. And while I accepted what it was, I dreamt of what it could have been, if I hadn’t been when I had.


Almaty / Kazakhstan · 2018   oil isn't all: public bikes





bottom of page