• Andrew Schwark

Mind Emancipation

A walk has finally ended the mopey feeling that was hanging over me. Pandemics, teaching, new apartment...change everywhere. Finding stability in that mess took some time, but getting out of the apartment – my mind – was an essential step.

The weather here has been unseasonably warm (anecdotal!) and the snow is quickly receding into small piles that hide in the shadows and alleys of buildings. Knowing I’m not about to eat pavement all the time is a wonderful experience and has allowed me to look up and take stock. At first glance it is easy to think Ufa is ugly, with few redeeming qualities (which my last post probably convinced you of). But the truth is more nuanced.

The macro impression is all that I saw. Here is the detailed view: morning sunlight darts into our kitchen and reflects off the coffee steam. Little herbs we planted have begun to sprout in their window boxes. After taking down the curtains and cleaning out some furniture everything feels bigger and open to creative possibility.

Side note: Ufanites are friendly when I try really hard to speak Russian.


Taking a long walk a couple of days ago (before the COVID lock down started this week) was amazing. My previous observations about architecture still hold true: a lot of it is intimidating. Brutalist. But certain places stand out in their interesting geometry or regal stature. New buildings glint and shine with modernity. Noble academic buildings command attention with their columns and ornamentation.

The government buildings are easy to pick out at a glance: blunt faced and imperious with small doors and a mile of granite overhead. Here the streets here are wide, placing emphasis on the horizontal – I see a lot of repeated patterns in the painted balconies and windows of apartment buildings.


The churches are so different from the rest of the city’s structure as to appear misplaced. Yet all are beautiful and ranging wildly in construction. Wooden ones, brick ones, and others brightly painted and everyone of them lifting their bells high in thin towers. I will make a point to capture as many as I can to share with you as things begin to green up.


It took a little while, but I have slowly opened up to the characteristics of Ufa. Not everything is ugly or festooned with dirty snow. Amid the traffic and trolley cars you can find quiet places...beautiful places.


Note: That big shiny building is awesome. It's a cultural center.

© 2020 FATHOM Photography