The state controlled almost all aspects of daily life in the USSR, including entertainment. However, everything changed in 1985 when Alexey Pajitnov created an unapproved computer game based on a puzzle game from his childhood. The game consisted of random pieces that players would rotate to fill rows, and when each row was completed, it was deleted. He named it "Tetris," combining "tetra," the Greek word for four, and "tennis."
It’s 1922, and a photograph of Stalin and Lenin sitting side-by-side appears in every newspaper across the Soviet Union. But everything wasn’t as it seemed. The photograph was a fake. It’s thought this photograph was the first time that Stalin used photo technicians to create a new reality, his version of reality.
A few hours drive from Istanbul is a remote valley with soft rolling slopes that is surrounded by woodland. What sets it apart from other valleys in the area, is the hundreds of identical chateaus. More than 500 palatial homes sit abandoned on a 250 acre site. I have a deep interest in the Soviet Union and abandoned places. While this town isn’t Soviet, it’s too bizarre to not write about.
Art runs in my family. My father Sergey Grigoryevish Tverdokhlebov was an artist and spent most of his life working as an art teacher. My uncle Ivan Grigoryevich Tverdokhlebov was a prominent artist in Russia and Chechnya.
Nestled in the center of the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, more than 12,000ft (3,700m) above sea level, there is a small plateau with 45 houses at the end of the road. These houses, home to 306 people, are in the village of Bulunkul, more affectionately known as Central Asia’s coldest town.
It’s 20 degrees below zero, and our Lada doesn’t give a damn. Our driver & guide, Igor, has a picture of Mary and Jesus stuck to his dashboard, just above the steering wheel. Welcome to winter in Kazakhstan. Equivalent to the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan is empty, endless, and mostly covered in snow.