Anya Melnikova is saving what time destroys. And, because of the work she does, the residents of Buzuluk have begun taking pride in the place they call home, and their obscure little town is even getting its share of the tourist trade.
Anya came to Buzuluk from Vladivostok in the fall of 1996, wearing a white down jacket. After she got out of the car and was eyeing the mud, the puddles, and the decrepit buildings, her jacket was spattered with black slush and could not be rescued. But only a few years later, Anya was on a rescue mission of her own, to bring Buzuluk’s signature architectural style back from the brink. Little wooden masterpieces with features showcasing the uniquely Russia twist on Art Nouveau were disintegrating all over Buzuluk, but none of the townsfolk seemed to have any idea of what was being lost.
When we meet, in a café, Anya is eager to show off her first tattoo. She recently had the word svoboda (freedom) inked just above her wrist.
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These popular public events are billed as a celebration and encouragement of marriage and family life. They also give recent brides a chance to wear their wedding dresses one more time.
When rendered in wood, the Russian modern (Art Nouveau) style looks like a close relative of Carpenter Gothic in the United States.
Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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