Monday, March 23, 2009

The Faces of Almaty

It takes a lot of effort to learn the Russian language and a regret I have is not having enough time to study it well enough to speak with characters like these. I’m certain that they weren’t born in hospitals and that their life’s chances were dramatically shaped by living under Soviet conditions.

A highly recommended read: “Apples are from Kazakhstan” by Christopher Robbins. It’s a very easy, educational read, part travel book, part social critique, and part history. It’s an excellent source of context for us and I think most people would enjoy reading it. Example: About 10 city blocks away from our home is Leon Trotsky’s old apartment. He arrived here in 1928, exiled by Stalin himself. Solzhenitsyn was also one of Joseph’s guests here on his way to being banished (whereupon he began writing "The Gulag Archipelago" and "One Day in the the Life of..."). And apples really are from Kazakhstan.

The point: I would really like to sit and talk with gentlemen like the above and ask them the sorts of questions you would ask a grandfather, but it’s almost impossible.

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