Today was my sixth birthday far from home, but my first in Kyrgyzstan. To celebrate, Bishkek has donned a cloak of the winter’s first snow. Above is a crystal blue sky, and everywhere wet white co-mingling with lingering autumnal golds and crimsons. I can see why the Kyrgyz made көк (blue, but “асмандай”, sky-like or azure) and ак (white, but “кардай”, snow-like and brilliantly pure) the colors of their national seal, and why it appears so often in their various оймолор (symbolic tribal patterns).
I decided not to spend the day just “about myself”, so I shared the morning talking ideas and the future of Kyrgyzstan with two very interesting philosophy students (one of whom, like me, doubles as a journalist!); then I shared the early afternoon with a wonderful woman in blue strolling Erkendik boulevard, and then the late afternoon via Skype with a dear colleague; and then finally, I shared the evening with Begenas Sartov* over a bowl of Uighur-style лагман. [Update: And then my roommates surprised me with an early morning birthday cake!]
Ah, to my readers who’ve never been here: it’s hard to describe just how beautiful the day has been, not just externally, with the crisp, chilled air and the gentle, mountainous colors, but also internally, with the calm, cool breezes of the soul, and the good company of friends and noble ideas. I want some of you, in America, in Belgium, in Britain, in Italy, and everywhere else, to come here, even for just a day, to see with your own eyes why, at least in this very moment, I’m so glad that the Divine has led me here.
* Sartov was
the Kyrgyz people’s first science fiction author [he was the Kyrgyz people’s first successful science fiction author; the crown of first-ever Kyrgyz science fiction author apparently rests upon the head of one Kusein or Kuseyin Esenkojoev**], who explored the interaction between tradition and modernity in his work. He is famous here for penning the novella, Мамыры Гулдөн Маалда, about a Soviet-educated shepherd and an extraterrestrial who are both vying for possession of a mystical flower in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. The novella has been recently translated into English as When the Edelweiss Flowers Flourish , although I think the proper name of the flower in Kyrgyz is actually, “ой-кайндан”, [the proper name is indeed мамыры гул] a flow which the characters often refer to as, “тоо мамыры” (“soul of the mountain”).