Tuesday, December 09, 2014

These requests from abroad, Vol. 7: "I wish you happiness and good luck!"

If you own a brewery or work for one, you've probably fielded numerous e-mail inquiries from overseas asking for beer labels, crown caps and the like, as destined to become the cherished keepsakes of private collectors who've somehow heard about your brewing expertise, even in far-off Plovdiv or Lhasa.

To me, there is something compelling and yet haunting about these foreign requests, which tend most often to come from Central/Eastern European locales, places of longtime personal interest to me historically and geographically. They speak vividly to my inner melancholic.

Lately, I've been pasting their addresses into Google Map and seeing what their places of residence look like. After all, they can look at my business, and it seems only fair for me to see where they live, so very far away.

Vladimir lives on Zadniprovska Ulitsa (street) in Zaporizhia, Ukraine. Glancing at a map, the city appears to be safely removed from the current fighting to the east between Ukraine and Russia.

Google has yet to add a street view of his place of residence, but it's fairly easy to visualize the old-school apartment block from the closest aerial view. I'd guesstimate the immediate post-war era of construction.

Zaporizhia originated as an 18th-century Russian garrison settlement during the reign of Catherine the Great. The city is situated on the steppe (a grassland ecoregion) and straddles the Dnieper River, which is the key to its historical growth.

Following the Civil War and advent of the Soviet Union, Zaporizhia was targeted for industrialization. A "hero" hydroelectric project dammed the Dnieper, a steel mill and aluminum plant were built, "surplus" labor from the countryside was brought (willingly or otherwise) to work, and a new city was built. These days, the population is 770,000.

To his credit, Vladimir has done his homework.

I am labels collector and I would be most grateful if in 2015 year you will send me for my collection some your labels like Naughty Girl Blonde India Pale Ale, Solidarity Baltic Porter, 15B.

Maybe I will.

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