Thursday, 20 December 2007
Christmas in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Coming from New Zealand where we celebrate Christmas in the middle of summer, the European snow theme Christmas cards never made much sense to me. Until, that is, I had some Christmas's in Kazakhstan. A few memories
24 December 2001
It's Monday morning in Almaty and another heavy snowfall last night Up the road the golden cupola's on the Russian Cathedral are covered in snow, but you can still see the gold on the spires. Almaty is a very beautiful city and if ever wanted a "real Christmas scene", this is it.
Yesterday I went skiing at Chimbulak and had a wonderful day's skiing. A number of runs from 3,500m to 2,500m with panoramic views of the Alatau range of the Tienshan. I was so captivated by the environment and the clock seemed to stop as I watched the sun go down and the moon slowly brighten. It is days like yesterday that make me realise the importance of mountains in my life and their grandeur and timelessness.
Time is something which has always fascinated me and most writers allude to it, in one way or another.
Recently I have started reading the great Kazakh writers, poets and philosophers and one stands out above all others; Abai. He loved his people as no other and that's why his words ooze blood as his soul bleeds. One of his early poems is about the ticking of clocks (1880)
The ticking of clocks is not an idle sound
life flows by, my friend, their beating repeats
A minutes is like an age for a man:
it goes, it dies, and the circle of life is closed
A clock is a ticking thief,
stealing life daily,
taking it unnoticed so that without love and constancy
life is nonetheless just fleeting deception.
In a clock's rustlings is past life
if it dulls a soul or comforts it,
still reason knows that time is treacherous,
it goes past as though its tick is harmless.
A day, a month, a year goes off in to ashes,
old age comes, time flows away...
Since transient time beckons us pitilessly,
Oh, imperishable Creator, have mercy upon us !
Abai is one of the few nomads who wrote with such passion and spirit about the life of nomads: