This letter has been long due to you, isn’t it? For me, you epitomised the elements of nature – I came face-to-face with your concept of open spaces, open minds, and open hearts. I remember landing at Bishkek airport and taking in the landscapes below from the aircraft in awe; you were a picture of clouds hugging the mountaintops with peaks covered in snow and an occasional emerald green lake that looked like gems embedded into the earth. With your clear, fresh air you welcomed me at a time in my life when I needed the soothing arms of nature. You provided me with that and so much more.
In the fading light of the day, your hip, lit cafes with outdoor seating, gleaming minarets of the occasional mosques, rows of buildings, and neatly kept roads with manicured lawns and streets captured my heart. The morning light brought out your true colours as I saw how like a child that treasures its bygone days, you too had kept your hint of the erstwhile Soviet Union intact in your smaller towns. Crossing into the countryside, you were dotted with iron grilled fences, wooden electric poles, and numerous abandoned buildings from the time that you would have remembered with nostalgia. In the elaborate graveyards on the side of the roads, with decorative headstones built on the tombs, you are preserving the ones who once walked these lands.
Just like the grief that I came carrying into my heart, your unpredictable weather contained a beauty, a certain melancholy, that left me wanting more. In stark contrast to your city, your countryside was an immediate balm to my tired soul with its rugged mountains. While huddled around the makeshift tea table, you opened up your skies to ripping thunder and brought down hail in a matter of minutes. Gusts of winds, whipping through the hair, took away some of the cares of the year that were lingering around.
Even before reaching Song-Kol, you dusted the way with fine snow that settled on the faraway mountaintops like a silk sheet. It is said that some of the most beautiful moments in life always come after challenges. Despite being stuck on our way to the yurt camp, you sent over three beautiful horses across our way to pretty much make up for everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better moment in time or any other way of being held up in any other place, it was perfect!
Your mountains reminded me of my own forgotten majesty, your lakes roared the tiredness out from my bones, your people showed me the true meaning of opening one’s heart. The numerous souls I met on the journey through your land, ended up making a mark on my being and some of them I still treasure. Their simplicity towards life, the fire of their loyalty, the joy in their voices, made me stare in awe. And then there were your horses, the magnificent beasts that galloped their way into my heart.
I can still feel my feet on your rolling hills and soft bogs that I trod upon, that took me to marvellous places, untouched and unadulterated. You led me to places and people who are still connected to their lands and opened my eyes to how much bliss a rustic, simple life carries. Your people have a special connection to nature and it became more evident when we met your Munushkhors. That special bond between your golden eagles and their tamers, came with a hint of realisation that even today, with all the technology, it is possible to live in harmony with our surroundings.
Your people embody a spirit of hospitality that I have found in very few places. With their tables full and hearts open, I found wisdom in that small hut by the river holding a cup of tea offered by the lone man staying there. Even when they didn’t have much, they were the wealthiest, I found. You personified all aspect of earth, wind, and water – literally and spiritually for me. Even though so many months have gone by, I still reminisce about you and long to be back once more in your welcoming arms.
Until I am able to do that again, I wanted to say how much I adored my time with you and how blessed I feel to have experienced you.
From my heart