the open innovation forum is moscows largest

 Behind the irony curtain
Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags I landed in Moscow to thunderous applause. The flydubai flight (yes, it is an airline, not an advertisement to fly to Dubai, as I long believed) was cheap louis vuitton bags from china full of Russians returning home, and while at first I thought the applause was ironic, the beaming faces around me indicated that it was entirely genuine. I joined in, only partly embarrassed. Over the course of the week I spent in Moscow, I realised (and was told) that Russians don't do Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags much irony, that Moscow especially is a city full of serious citizens committed to their cause of bigger, better replica louis vuitton and entirely over the top. But first, I was amazed by how American it was. In the long drive from the Vnukovo Airport to the heart of the city, the radio in the taxi was hosting a Duran Duran special. And the billboards flashing past had Bruce Willis smiling benignly.
I was hosted in Moscow by a quasi governmental organisation called the Moscow Convention Bureau. Junket tours, like the one I was on, fake louis bag are often an uncomfortable mixture of sightseeing and business meetings. On both counts, this was a high powered one. At the Ritz Carlton a new hotel that tries to look old, as a tourist guide later described, but beautiful nevertheless with a stunning view of the Red Square I was met by the organisers, three young women, all of whom looked like they had stepped off the pages of Vogue. The group about 10 journalists in all, from all kinds of places including the UK, Finland, Switzerland and Singapore was briefed about the purpose of the trip. "We want to show you that Moscow is a great city and it is open for business. And more importantly, we want to show you that Moscow is a FRIENDLY city," we were told. The emphasis on friendly continued over the course of the trip. "Please remember, Moscow is friendly!" And it is with reason. Check any travel website and stories of inhospitable Russians abound. This issue, of unsmiling Russians who refuse to make eye contact or chat up strangers, is so severe that the city's tourism slogan is a highly aspirational 'Friendly Moscow.'
Since this was a trip organised by high quality designer replica handbags the Moscow Convention Bureau, it was inevitable that it started with a convention. The Open Innovation forum is Moscow's largest technology and innovation exhibition. The convention centre was a renovated former car factory, and though its walls looked freshly polished and the signages replica louis vuitton bags glowed like wet paint, the ceiling seemed to drip with Soviet history. The iconic Moskvitch was the car that was manufactured here and it was arguably the most popular car in the USSR in the '70s and '80s. But the day we were there though, this history was impossible to fathom. After walking through what seemed like endless exhibits of bullet trains and bionic arms, we were hustled into the convention centre, where a sudden hush fell as Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev walked in. I spent all day thinking about his taut skinned, square jawed visual perfection, wondering where I'd seen him before. It was only late that night that it struck me he looks like Ken, Barbie's buff better half. In high quality replica handbags china many ways, Medvedev, and Moscow, seem to embody the extreme end of a certain new age fabulousness, without irony, of course.
The next three days were a blur of convention centres. We visited the Expo Centre, which is 55 years old, massive and right in the middle of the city. Then there was the World Trade Centre at the Crowne Plaza hotel, where we huffed past delegates from around the world talking about anti tobacco causes as the marketing person in charge droned on about halls that are 15,000 square metres big with perfect acoustics, so on and so forth. We went to a TV tower which was a convention centre. We even went to a distant suburb to see Crocus City, an exhibition venue, whose size does everything it can to justify the 'city' in its name. It was clear by then why the guided tours of these convention centres would begin with the person in charge saying, "Let's take a walk around our territory." Territory it was, Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags and often a large one. Anyway, to cut a long story short, dear reader, all you need to know is that Moscow has a lot of convention centres and they are all massive and millions of people visit these every year.
After all of this, when we went to visit the now de commissioned Bunker 42, I managed to swap my business visitor dreariness with some eager tourist interest. Located 65 metres below the 1:1 replica handbags ground, Bunker 42 was used during the Cuban missile crisis in anticipation of a nuclear attack. We wove our way through the narrow corridors past Stalin's desk and secret exits to the metro system and finally came to the room where the nuclear controls lay. A sound and light simulation ensued and a volunteer from the group was instructed to sit at a terminal and, at the end of a countdown, turn the second key that would launch nuke missiles. The keys were turned, the dark room shook with impact. It was frightening how close the world had come to this, and as we staggered upstairs, the mood was one of dark brooding. But that didn't last. For the floor above was a convention centre! With a well appointed conference room. And even a karaoke lounge. I asked the host if this whole idea had a wink and nudge appeal to it because who would want to sing karaoke right after imagining the prospect of the end of the world. She looked at me, puzzled, and replied, "No, it's a good venue. I tried to have my pre wedding dinner here, but it was booked. "
In the evening, we went on a quick guided tour of Red Square. Although it was late autumn, Moscow was still in a touristy, summer whirl. There was a sound and light show, and as a thousand horsemen marched past the faade of the Bolshoi Theatre, even the locals hurrying home after work were enthralled enough to stop and watch. At the other end, with its multi coloured domes like a medieval icon of Candy Crush, St Basil's Cathedral was even more gorgeous in life than it is in photographs. Basil himself was a man of the masses, a barefoot fakir of sorts, and that one of the most recognisable buildings in the country was built for him is a credit to Ivan the Terrible and Tsarist Russia's romanticism. The statue in front of the church, though, is a story of modern Russia's pragmatism. A monument to Minin and Pozharsky (who saved Moscow from the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1612), it was originally located on the main Red Square. However, on Victory Day parades, the military tanks were struggling to navigate their way around the statue, so it was plucked and tucked away in a corner. Much of Russia's architectural heritage, our orange haired guide informed us, was falling victim to its sense of practicality. Ancient palaces and churches were very easily demolished and re built in more convenient locations. This re pinning of history is inevitable, for Moscow does not make namby pamby plans. The city plans to double in size by the year 2020. The metro system is projected to add some 100 stations by 2018. If a church or a palace comes in the way, that's just too bad, it'd have to move.
This convenient dismissal of an uncomfortable history is not relegated to Moscow's buildings. It also extends to imagery. The metro stations are a delight and I highly recommend a guided tour of these (see box for details). The stations are built and decorated with various themes. Some are built like Byzantine palaces, some are filled with Soviet Russia imagery and some are entirely futuristic. It's fascinating. Lenin features in a lot of stations. And even though most were built under his 1:1 replica handbags rule, Stalin is nowhere to be seen. That isn't because Stalin didn't think it would be a bad idea to have his face plastered on these walls, he did have himself represented as much as possible. But in the light of what we now know about Stalin, Russia just decided it would be best to wipe him off the stations. "That woman," the guide would point out, "the farmer with the sickle, she used to be Stalin." Or "This sun which is shining here, that used to be Stalin." A spot where Stalin used to be is a delightful adventure to go on. And while you are at it, go to the Ploshchad Revolyutsii station decorated with 76 excellent sculptures and rub the nose of the dog's statue for good luck (only with your left hand, mind you), grab the nymphet's breast and wish for love, and pat the rooster for wealth. Once you're done with the guided tour, if you feel yourself capable of navigating the Moscow metro yourself, let me warn you that you're quite wrong. I confidently started off my three train adventure to the flea market in Izmailovsky the next morning. It was quickly dented when the lady behind the counter saw me with the metro map in my hand, grudgingly handed me a ticket and shooed me away even before I could open my mouth to ask for help. At the station, I approached kind looking strangers, only to have them scamper away as though I had Ebola. It was precisely cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk at these moments that I would be reminded of our host extolling us to remember that MOSCOW IS FRIENDLY.
Despite this, I don't grudge Moscow its unfriendliness. I found its aloofness rather charming, especially in this tourist trap world of ingratiating salespeople and fawning locals. Nowhere else have I found myself in such a glorious state of incredulity. On my last day in the city, a freezing Friday, I stepped from the snowy street into Gum, Moscow's old market (immortalised by television news visuals, in the Perestroika years, of thousands of Russians queuing up for bread) and now a posh shopping complex. Inside, while waiting for my coffee, I spotted a bride and a groom getting themselves photographed outside the Louis Vuitton store. It was strange but I didn't think very much of it. Until an hour later, as I walked through the complex and came upon at least a dozen brides and grooms, meticulously standing while framed by one luxury brand name or the other and having their pictures taken. "It's Friday, so people get married because then they get three days to celebrate," my guide, Elena, told me when I asked her what was happening.
"But why are they getting themselves photographed in a shopping complex?" I asked.
"Are you telling me you don't go to a mall or a McDonald's in your country after your wedding to take photos?" she asked me, incredulously.

And to my mind, that is the wonder of Moscow. It is incomprehensible in a manner so endearing, it makes you question everything you think you know about the world. It's like nowhere you've gone before. And that's a very hard thing to say these days. Avail that and then pay them for a couple of other tours. I went on the Metro Tour as well as the Soviet Russia Tour. The guides are young, smart and know their history as well as the city. The tours help you gain a far greater appreciation of otherwise ordinary looking buildings, mosaics and murals. Highly recommended. If you like to buy souveniers by the handful, go to the Izmailovsky flea market. Be warned, Moscow is expensive. 


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