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The Earth Queen’s ‘Stages of Evolution’

It always starts with the black and white thinking- “yes or no,” “never or always…”

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Until a new color is introduced… and so, the earth, reduced to ashes, suddenly acquires new passion, new blood…

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She comes to life…

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And begins to remember herself…

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She remembers her experiences but not her pain…

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She remembers her tastes…

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Finally, from her own abundance, she remembers how to…

 

Earth Queen (2)nourish others.

 

 

Masculine and Feminine (Seeing as Energies)

 

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Gino Severini’s “Armored Train in Action” (1915)
Recently, helping my friend with her online art history class, I came across something interesting… well disturbing really. In 1911, an art movement that called itself “Futurism,” led by a Milanese poet and editor Filippo Tomaso Marinetti (1876-1944) declared that everything old, dull and “feminine” should be swept away and replaced by dangerous, “masculine,” “futuristic,” love of machines, speed and war… (Jeez, where did it all go wrong?!)

Later, in 1988, the group of female artists who called themselves “Guerilla Girls” published a different “Manifesto,” called “The Advantages of being a Woman Artist,” where they recounted the dubious “advantages” such as “Working without the pressure of success; not having to be included in shows with men… Knowing your career might pick up after you’re eighty… Seeing your ideas live in the work of others… Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius… etc.” You get the picture.

 

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However, it was not the obvious misogyny of the world’s order that depressed me per se- the topic is rather obvious and widely discussed in the modern reality (especially lately), but I realized something quite different. I saw the gender imbalance as a deeper issue that is at the core of all the world’s issues.

As you might know (or not) almost all the history books are written from the masculine perspective and document lives and action of men (mostly) while the other half of the population was assumed to just be… watching? Of course not, women were living their lives and contributing to creating the world’s reality just as much (sometimes to the same degree of distortion), yet that perspective was in the shadow, dismissed as less important or blatantly insignificant. I do feel that ignoring the “shadow” side of things (in this case the feminine perspective) does not make the “light/masculine” more powerful but on the contrary, makes him weak and lost because after all, whether he wants to admit it or not, the Feminine is a part of him, and you don’t become strong by suppressing a half of yourself

My own studies of the human body and the energy field led me to understand the energy flow as two faceted: left side- magnetic/receptive/Feminine and the right side- electric/active/Masculine. Every human body is designed in that way, regardless of the biological gender. Therefore, every human being carries the feminine and masculine principals inside themselves.

So, what are those principles, for example? Here is the short list I came up with:

Feminine:

  • Nurturing
  • Creative
  • Understanding
  • Intuitive
  • Graceful
  • Free-flowing
  • Receptive

Masculine:

  • Integral
  • Self-assertive
  • Clear-minded
  • Focused
  • Protective
  • Forward-moving
  • Organized

Mind you these are the character traits that describe energies, not the people who may (temporarily) embody them. A man could be creative, intuitive and graceful yet those qualities would be an expression of his feminine energy (that men often try to hide or disown within themselves for the fear of ridicule). Same as a woman could be self-assertive, organized and clear-minded, articulating her masculine side that (not so rarely) would earn her criticism and a series of not too gentle nicknames or at times aggression and prosecution.

The trouble and the confusion, which creates animosity between men and women in the contemporary society, in my opinion, comes from misunderstanding that the expression of these polarities should refer to the physical genders, while it needs to be seen as an internal integration of the forward-moving/electric and receptive/magnetic energies. It is the internal “battle of the sexes” that needs to be brought to a peaceful and harmonious conclusion, not the external one…

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My Art Philosophy

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          My self-discovery as an artist has taken me through time and space both literally and figuratively. Having lived in various places of the planet and absorbing the wide range of diversity of cultural perceptions I came to the vivid realization that when it comes to art (or life in general) there is no such thing as one universal truth or canon. There is only personal preference. How do we know what we prefer though? Is it something we learn from parents or in school? If so, what does that have to do with us? Are there some authority figures who have once and for all decided what is good and what isn’t forever more? Sometimes I hear that to be a commercially successful artist one needs to have developed one’s personal, recognizable style. What does that mean? Does it mean one must paint only exaggeratedly elongated figures like Modigliani or only sprinkle paint on canvas like Jackson Pollack for the rest of one’s life? If so, art would be a very limiting and narrow experience… I would much rather treat all the available art styles and technique as my pallet and use them to express my own vision. When I conceive a painting or a drawing, it is a certain feeling or a certain story I wish to communicate to the audience. All I can do is connect to that feeling myself as strongly as I can and do my best to convey it, making a fraction of my personal perception externalized and available for others to observe. I am not expecting for everybody to resonate with my preferences, I am only offering a glimpse into my personal perception through the means of painting and drawing. In other words, please leave the “intellectual critic” part of your mind at the door and let yourself wonder. What do you see? What do you feel? Do the paintings “speak” to you? To me they do…

 

 

 

SOLAR WINDS (excerpt)

The Moon rose over the ancient citadel on top of the hill. The fortress was flickering. One moment you see its massive stone walls, round jagged-top towers and black loopholes against the night’s starry sky, another you don’t… a real magician performing its ‘disappearing act’. Judy kept watching, enchanted. Gradually, she noticed a motionless, shadowy figure by the Eastern wall of the castle. It was standing still but wouldn’t vanish with the citadel. Judy realized the figure was watching the ‘performance’ too. The girl liked the idea of sharing this moment with a stranger. She was curious what that person was seeing and feeling. It would be a little different from her own sensations. She knew that. But how different? She wondered. The figure shifted and blended with the dark wall that had just reappeared. A few moments later the wall dissolved, and Judy noticed the shadow’s outline move closer. She could even tell that it was a young man, tall, with broad shoulders and long dark hair. She couldn’t see his face. A strange feeling. Was she being carried away by her imagination, or did the man look familiar? She even imagined one of the children from her memory suddenly growing up and coming up to say “hi.” Judy stood still, watching the stranger approach. The man noticed her and slowed down, as if trying to remember her as well. No, she has never seen him before. She would never forget a pale stern face and dark eyes like that. The young man passed and the girl felt a cold shiver running down her spine. Where did it come from? The feeling slowly subsided. It was time to go home.

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How to Achieve a Perfect Body

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Did you think this post would be about diet and exercise? Well, think again J… First of all, let’s establish a definition of what exactly a Perfect Body is. Is it a thin, (young?!) athletic one- something that our mass culture rigorously pushes on the public making most of us feeling to various degrees inadequate? The best definition of a perfect body I’ve heard was from my Body Dynamics teacher- “the perfect body is the body that feels perfectly.”

Now think about that… We come into this life to interact with the environment through our senses, to acquire experiences that are our own, and our body is an invaluable tool for our perceptions and reaching self-awareness. But as we grow up, most of us are taught that in some shape or form our body is not good enough… Well that “not good enough” theme runs rampant through every area of our lives but that is a topic for another discussion.

The arrogance of our mass culture and constant pressure form advertising companies had many of us convinced that a fashion magazine editor knows better what is beautiful than the creative force that has conceived this world. If that is what you want to believe that is your choice, but I personally don’t like the idea one little bit. I am an artist and whenever the person is centered and self-accepting, very “comfortable in their skin” I (always!) perceive them as beautiful.

(People also call it “self-confidence” but for those who have none, self-confidence is a very abstract term, so I’ll break it down.)

By the way, you can also see a young model who is very insecure about her appearance and all you’ll see is her “flaws” not because they are real, but because that is what she is focused on.

Our bodies are not this chunk of meat that needs to be beaten into obedience through rigorous exercises or brutal diets. They are very sensitive and very complex tools of perception and awareness that we, through our ignorance and often abuse endured in childhood and teenage years severely damage throughout our lives. And yet, this amazing mechanism is so perfect that even having endured a lot of abuse, it has a great capacity for regeneration…

Now to the practical steps of how to treat our body properly, so it would once again become our friend rather than our source of frustration and disappointment.

First, we must acknowledge having treated our bodies poorly and apologize, and don’t worry- it will forgive you as soon as you apologize- your body ALWAYS wants to be on your side. It will be your best friend in the whole world if you only make an effort to reach out to it.

Second, you need to listen… Make it a habit to listen to the needs of your body and treat them as the needs of your favorite child. And don’t be surprised if your body will start “chatting” all the time. It is like a neglected child that sits in the back of a classroom quietly when nobody pays attention to him or her, but as soon as a teacher takes a notice of that child and shows sincere interest in him/her, the child opens up and starts showing ALL of his/her talents: “Look, I can also do this, and this and this!!!”

Third- acceptance. Make it your daily practice, each time you look in the mirror, notice what you are telling yourself- how you are observing your body. Are you critical of it? Are you finding parts or all of it unacceptable? There is an excellent exercise offered originally by Nathaniel Brandon (I think)- the mirror exercise. Set aside a few minutes of every day, stand in front of a mirror, look at your self and breathe. No need to think thoughts of how to improve yourself, to criticize, to avoid looking at certain areas- just look and breathe (for 10 min). Do this every day and notice the difference in how you feel, how this exercise affects the rest of your day, etc. Accept everything that comes up for you without judgment, without thought- cry if you want to cry, get angry if you feel like it, even wanting to stop or something so drastic as to commit suicide. Notice and accept it all and just breathe through all of it.

Next point for people who believe they have “weight issues…” And it’s not to negate the need for proper dies and physical activity, but first get to the core of the “issue.” Often times the reason we gain weight has to do with feeling very sensitive and unsafe in the world, and the worst thing you can do to your relationship with your body is to blame and punish it with diets and exercises for simply trying to protect your nervous system from over-exertion.

(It is a very large issue and I am not trying to make light of it.)

If you feel that you gain weight much too easily even without overeating and with exercising, look at your emotional state first. Do you feel too vulnerable in the world? Are you a very sensitive person, whose “weight issues” make you even more so? If the answer is yes, congratulate yourself- sensitivity is a great gift- it is your guidance system, and you must acknowledge it as one.

Take it in, feel the immense pleasure of knowing that about yourself.

Having done so, think of the ways you can consciously take care of your vulnerabilities-

  • avoid abuse whenever possible,
  • make your feelings a priority (you don’t have to make scenes and demand from others to be gentle with you- just be gentle with yourself; even a simple act of setting an intention of caring for your own feelings will go a long way).
  • Make your communication with your body a daily practice and notice the incremental differences.

(All of these steps have to be very small, very incremental; they require a lot of patience and a lot of attention. If you find it difficult in the beginning to listen to your body or to accept something- notice your resistance and accept that as a first step…)

The most significant shifts (in my experience) happen through taking small steps consistently.

The early phases of creating a rapport with your body start with appreciation- acknowledge the great work this amazing mechanism is doing for you and you will be on your way to KNOWING that you already have a Perfect Body- it is your perception that need to be adjusted… Keep a journal if you can and takes notes of your progress- you might find them inspiring, and enjoy the journey!

MONGOLIA: Visiting Friends

After about a week of camping out in the military field campsite and enjoying all the running around the steppe, collecting crystal rocks, colorful lizards and wild carnations, we had a surprise… My father summoned us in the middle of the day and we set out for a short trip.

“Where are we going? Where are we going?” My sister and I kept asking intrigued.

“You’ll see,” he would reply evasively.

We drove for about forty minutes in our field truck and reached a ger settlement in the middle of nowhere. It was a small village with several yurts. There were adults around but my eye caught the fact that there were a lot of children, most younger than my sister and I, roaming freely from ger to ger and playing in the field. As soon as we parked, they quickly surrounded our truck and were shamelessly gawking at us as my sister and I sat inside trying to comb out hair into braids. I even tried to close the truck’s door only to see a few tiny hands slipping into the gap and opening it wide again. We felt very uncomfortable for a while.

But as my father explained that a car, let alone a huge truck, stopping by the village was a major event for the settlers, we felt a little more at ease. We realized that they didn’t stare at us because they thought there was something wrong with us, but because we were a new occurrence in their lives. I could understand that.

As my fear of the locals had subsided, I began seeing them in a different light. I suddenly noticed how beautiful and full of vitality they were. They were dressed in mixture of colorful clothes- some in traditional Mongolian silk frocks, some in modern clothes with dominant colors of bright pink, purple, turquoise green and yellow. They had big smiles revealing bright white teeth, strong and perfectly even. Their black thick hair was braided and tucked under pointy hats and gaudy scarves. A strange thought occurred to me as I was watching these free, happy people enjoying life in the middle of harsh and seemingly empty land. “This is what humanity was meant to be like. These are the ‘original humans’…”

It turned out that we came to the settlement to meet our old friends. My mother had worked in a student dormitory as a manager in Irkutsk where she met a Buryat woman named Ghita, who later married a Mongolian citizen and moved out to the Dornod aimag, a far eastern Mongolian province. Ghita’s ger was one of the biggest around. It was open, just like all the others’ and anybody could come in and out as they wished. We were seated to the right of the entrance.

Mongolian yurts are traditionally set up with the entrance always facing South. As in a Miniature-Universe, everything inside the ger revolves around tits central axis, the wrought-iron fire stove. All those entering the yurt move in the direction of the sun- East to West. Men are seated on the western side and women and guests opposite of them. The northern area is reserved for the Spirits of ancestors with an improvised altar, photographs and keepsakes.

As we sat on the colorful bed we were offered to feast on the plate of candies laid out in front of us on a low table. As soon as my sister and I, squinting cautiously at the half-melted caramels covered in flies, politely declined, a fireball of a little girl flew into the ger, grabbed a handful of sticky sweets and rushed out stuffing a few of them into her mouth. Interesting idea, I thought to myself, maybe it isn’t really necessary to only eat things that are clean?

While my parents were having conversations with the locals, using my father’s limited Mongolian, the men’s limited Russian and Ghita’s translations back and forth, I was gawking around the ger and taking in everything that was challenging, contradicting or expanding my knowledge of the world. I loved the feel of the black, soot covered stove that exuded warm coziness and generosity. It seemed to say- I know I am the center of attention but only because I give so much livelihood- I feed you, I keep you warm, I entertain you with my flickering blaze and crackling fire wood, and I bring you all together. The beds along the round walls seemed to agree and, blending in with the colorful rugs on the walls and on the floor did not challenge the stove’s claim to the spotlight. Toono, the top opening in the middle of the tent’s roof, protruded by the long stove pipe, was the main light source aside from the opened door. It showed the movement of the sun, tracing the light like a sun dial and was said to be the “Window to Heaven,” through which the spirits of the Upper world could enter and bring people luck and prosperity. There was not one thing, I thought, in Ghita’s yurt that was just an object, a dead item… no- everything inside the felt covered tent was enlivened and constantly interacting with its inhabitants- a never-ending flow of exchange and communication. I felt so good and so right in this small model of the Universe that I didn’t want to leave.

I understood why the Mongolians, especially the older generation, were having such a hard time adjusting to the “civilized” life style. My father had told us a story of a man who received an apartment in Ulan Bator from the government as part of the program of moving people from the rural areas into the cities. That Mongolian man did not object to the gift and happily accepted it, but used it in his own way… He set up his ger on the front loan of the apartment building and treated the second-floor flat as a drinking well for his sheep. Thus every day, in the morning and in the afternoon, one could see a sheep herd running up and down the staircase, leaving traces of dung and dirt along the way. What was the government to do? Not much. I in turn could not blame the man for not wanting to give up his cozy, living, breathing womb of a home in exchange for a cement box…

Eventually we had to leave, bidding our warm and polite farewell and setting on our way. As a gift exchange, we received some fresh Mongolian food and gave a lift to five village men to the nearest town.

There was just one little mishap worth mentioning related to Ghita’s delicacies. When she asked my parents whether they preferred sour cream thinner or thicker, my mother and father in unison declared:

“Thicker, of course,” remembering the thin sour cream sold in Soviet stores, which looked and tasted suspiciously buttermilk like. It was a common knowledge that store workers would routinely steal parts of the original product replacing its quantity with something less valuable and more abundant such as buttermilk.

When they opened Ghita’s container however, my parents rolled with laughter. Inside the tin box was sour cream so thick that it was one step away from becoming butter. “Thick” in the local language apparently meant “thick.” That was Mongolia in my experience, a country of vast spaces, harsh weather and very real people living very real lives…

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MONGOLIA: The Flood

My father and his soldier-driver unanimously decided that setting up a camp on the island would probably be safer than out in the steppe where wolves were “visitors most common.” The truck had no problem crossing the shallow, couple of feet deep, waters on its high four-by-four, central tire inflation system wheels

We were all set and ready to go. Yes, we did have a great big truck, but the roads… well there weren’t any. The sound name “road” in rural Mongolia was given to any tire tracks left on the ground by a pair of wheels. Actually, the dry flat steppe would have been perfect for driving if it wasn’t for the desert rains. Paraphrasing a famous Russian proverb, “it rained seldom, but hit the bull’s eye”: it seemed as if a solid wall of water would suddenly connect the sky and the earth, and when it was over, the desert would turn into an ocean.  Just before the land dried up, it turned into soft mesh and any vehicle that drove through the steppe at that time would leave deeply imbedded ruts, sometimes as many as thirty running parallel to each other.  Once dried completely, those tracks would become as hard as ceramic tile. And through that “furrowness” we had to get in the GAZ 66 army cargo box truck, or more precisely in its box…

The truck inside had two benches set up along its windows and some handles on the side walls for infantry transportation. I suppose when the benches were filled with twenty adult people cladded in heavy ammunition, it was a different story. But as soon as we left the premises of the base, the Mongolian wilderness quickly let us know how little those handles mattered for the three of us- one delicate woman and two lighter than feather kids. The truck was driving about 60 km/hour and we were flying about the cabin like lotto balls in a bingo blower, losing all distinction between the floor and the ceiling. We had to stop and rearrange the benches into the sleeping position, which meant laying the long top seats across the box and putting as much soft stuff on them- blankets, pillows, etc. as we had. That slightly reduced the “crowd” in a “bruise department,” and made it possible for us to survive the rest of the journey.

Eventually we reached our first camping sight. It was a small island in the middle of the Kerulen river. The river itself is very full and long, one of the largest in Mongolia, running from the Hentiyn Mountains all the way into China with many sorts of fish in its waters and lush green pastures along its banks. The part of the river we reached, however, was not so picturesque. It was just a shallow stream of fast running mud.

My father and his soldier-driver unanimously decided that setting up a camp on the island would probably be safer than out in the steppe where wolves were “visitors most common.” The truck had no problem crossing the shallow, couple of feet deep, waters on its high four-by-four, central tire inflation system wheels. We parked our GAZ 66 in the middle of the island, had a quick supper of canned meats and veggies, warmed up on the campfire, and crushed exhausted at the sundown- the soldier-driver in the truck’s front cabin and the four of us in the box…

As we woke up the next morning and crawled out of our warm cozy box, we realized that apparently… APARENTLY during the night, one of those famous desert rains passed by and left us on an island much smaller than we first entered. The shallow muddy stream that was so easy to cross yesterday today turned into a proper river, wide and roaring. What to do? We all stared at the landscape around us dumbfounded, our minds drawing blank. There was no chance of crossing the river now; we had no radio or telephone with us to call for help; and there was no human soul around for as far as we could see. After we regained our ability to think, my father’s solution-oriented mind came to the only logical conclusion:

“We’ll have to wait until the river tides down.” He said.

Everyone agreed.

So, great, now we were on a real desert island, trying to survive a real natural disaster. My sister and I looked at each other- this is not fun at all, we both noted silently. The island, unlike in our imagination, had nothing, and by “nothing” I mean NOTHING on it. It was a flat patch of clay land with minimal vegetation- no berries, no trees, no animals, no flowers not even one interesting looking rock. It was the most boring square-footage imaginable. Lucky for us we had food provisions enough to sustain us for a while but we were running out of water. The last drops in our flasks went to the making of instant coffee for breakfast, and now we were nervously glancing at the rolling brown river that surrounded us…

The russet water looked as bad in our enamel bucket as it did in the stream, and having tested it after it had been thoroughly boiled and the dirt particles settled to the bottom, my sister and I unanimously agreed that only severe dehydration will compel us to drink it. Having some food concerns though was good for us. It temporarily distracted the five of us from having to figure out what to do with all the pastime, but soon enough we were faced with that dilemma. My father who rarely had the luxury of extra-time on his hands just wanted to stretch out in the sun and do absolutely nothing. My sister and I, who were well acquainted with the abundance of “free time,” however, were more concerned with creating activities and entertainment for ourselves. It was interesting how uninteresting being stuck on a real desert island turned out to be. There wasn’t a lot of places one could go to, nor see many different things. So, unless one would learn to renew one’s perspective and look at his or her surroundings with “new eyes,” one could very easily go mad in this situation, I thought.

After a little while our eyes and minds adjusted to the seeming emptiness of our surroundings, and we began to see variety. Suddenly every little stone and rock had a bit of a different shape then all the others, a bit of a different shade of color and had a bit of a different “character.” I was beginning to understand what my father meant when he told us that the natives orient themselves in the steppe very easily. Not only are they consistently aware of their position in relationship to the four spatial directions- East, West, South and North, but they see the steppe as we see streets and roads in our world. Everything, every rock formation, every little valley, ravine or a slope has as distinct characteristics for the Mongolian locals as for us our bus stops, streets and house addresses. Not only that, but the various areas of the steppe feel differently to the native population. I was finally seeing the country wilderness a little bit more through the eyes of those who lived here and who loved its austere vastness. I could sense the pulse of the land, the energy of the river. The river was no longer a muddy stream in my mind but a powerful and defiant Spirit that, like blood through the veins, was pushing the vital nourishment through the harsh terrain and keeping it alive. Everything was harmoniously cooperating in nature- constantly negotiating and re-negotiating its push and pull, its flow and its dance of what to be “important” in the moment. It felt to me that being trapped on that island was not a mere coincident, nor a miscalculation. It had a greater purpose, and greater powers were at play here, as if the land itself was saying to us- “stop rushing about, slow down enough to see me for what I really am.

As soon as that realization dawned on me (it felt) the water began to tide down. The sun was still high in its zenith when the stream became shallow enough for my father to cross it. He walked cautiously with a rope tied around his waist in case if he were to slip and got carried away by the fast running river, and we watched breathlessly from the island. Finally, he was safely on the other side. My father and his soldier-driver constructed a temporary emergency waftage with a rope and a spare tire so that we, the civilians, could sit in the tire and be transported across the river by the two men pulling and slacking the rope. Eventually our whole family re-united on the “mainland.” The only thing left to do was for the driver to take the truck across the stream. By my father’s tense posture and sparse speech, I could appreciate the risk of the venture. What if the truck gets stuck in the mud or fills with water so much that it becomes disabled? What would we do then?

I’m not sure why but as I was watching the truck emerging into the brown rapids I remembered a story my father had told us about the Mongolian customs. He described his experience in one of the ger settlements where they worked with the cooperation of the locals. There was a rapid river nearby and one of the little kids got caught in its stream and was drowning, screaming while the entire village passively watched on the side. It took one of the soldiers diving into the stream and pulling the child out for the situation to be resolved. Later someone explained to my father that Mongolians believe in destiny and would not interfere, especially when it comes to water. They believed that the powerful Spirit of the Underworld, Bur khan, was claiming the child, and there was nothing anybody could do about it. At first upon hearing the story I felt infuriated by the seeming cowardice of the people but standing there in the middle of the Mongolian steppe I felt the power beyond one’s reason and understanding. I could see why they might have felt so much awe in the face of it. Though unlike the village folks I didn’t feel subdues by that mighty spirit. In some way, I realized, felt united with it.

The truck slowly but surely passed the midpoint of the rapids and was emerging out of the deep waters. The worst was over. Everyone breathed a little more freely now… Half-dipped in mud with the dark water draining out of its every orifice, our beloved GAZ 66, along with its driver, finally joined us on the safe side.

The rest of our journey went quite smoothly, and we arrived to the military campsite before dawn. Nobody talked much about the flood but I felt that it had changed us all a little bit. Maybe it allowed some of us to feel more respect for the natural powers of the steppe; maybe it made others think beyond everyday concerns; as for myself I felt that in that flood we were all “baptized” by the mighty Spirit Bur Khan, and now we belonged to this land, just like the natives did. We surely got our feet wet here…

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