“Little wild one”: My Kyrgyzstan

I am sitting in a small suburban airport of London, flying off to Kyrgyzstan.  It’s been a long day and a long night; good-byes waived, hopes raised, dreams shared, dear friends and some of my favorite things left behind, my memories carefully stored in all the corners of my heart; my head dizzy from whirling thoughts.

It’s been a very special year for me, both challenging and grand; one of those years that change the course of life forever and count not for a calendar year, but a decade of experience. It was filled with excitement of discovery, thrill of adventure, long travels, sense of unknown, whisper of secrets, unexpected revelations, midnight confessions, laughter of friends , passionate arguments, uncountable challenges, chance encounters with some of the most beautiful people I know, sleepless nights and music, lots of good music…  One of those ‘really good’ songs is boosting through my headphones right now, it’s Joan Osborne’s ‘Little Wild One’, a beautiful love song, which for some reason makes me think of my homeland every time, of Kyrgyzstan.

I had a brief conversation in the morning with a taxi driver, while I was loading up his car with my numerous suitcases:

  •     So, where are you going to?
  •     Home.
  •     And where is that?
  •     Kyrgyzstan.
  •     We call it Kazakhstan.
  •     It’s not the same country.
  •     So where is it?

This reaction is among most common I get from people when I tell them where I am from, most of people I have met throughout my year in the UK ,told me I was the first person they have met from Kyrgyzstan, leave alone them ever hearing of it.

I could give them a geopolitical description of my country, telling them that Kyrgyzstan is a very small country with 5.3 mln people; almost twice smaller than population of London. Its landscape is carved with mountains as its years with history’s complicated route. Kyrgyzstan is everything that Central Asian country could be; post-soviet, post-nomadic, pseudo-Muslim, pseudo-democratic, somewhat Asian, and even somewhat Russian.

But I choose to avoid this introduction, they have Wikipedia for that; there is a legend I prefer to tell people, who have never heard of Kyrgyzstan, to give a grasp of feel of the country.

“When Creator was dividing the lands between people, Kyrgyz people were as usual late (referring to nomadic and relaxed lifestyle of my people and inability of time-keeping). By the time they got to him, there were no lands left.  Since the Creator felt like he can’t leave Kyrgyz without a land, he gave them his own summer cottage. It didn’t have many resources or wealth, but was breathtakingly beautiful. Since then Kyrgyz people live in a summer cottage of the Creator”.

When I have made a decision to return to Kyrgyzstan after my graduate degree, many people asked me why on earth I would want to connect my future with a small country with unstable political situation, unpromising perspectives for a career development, corrupted government and troubled economy.

The answer is simple: because it’s my home and it’s beautiful. Joan Osborne is on repeat as my plane lowers over a very small airport, barely lit, just enough to see the counters of mountain chain beyond the city: “For all you are and all you’ll become. I love you like the sun, little wild one…”

NB: Click on the pictures to view larger. All images are copyright of Panda Discovers.

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