Portraits - People and Places
Here Is Where We Meet
In a spirit of confidence, trust, good faith, let’s let go. Let’s be open, free. Let’s lose ourselves a bit (as if in love). / For when you need something, there it is; and when you look for something, you find it; and when you look for this or that person, some / one / special, they find you, or you find them, if not immediately, at once, then soon. / For wherever you go, there you are, always present, saying: / Be Here Now. / And so if I, passing, meet you, and desire to speak, then why should I not speak to you? And you to me. For you are the riddle of another world, infinitely fascinating, calling out for a deeper understanding, some sense of communion in a shared humanity, a sound in search of echo, a call that seeks response, a question, and sometimes, perhaps, an answer. Let’s both then pause and, if only for a moment, wonder about the world, together. Tell me, where do you call home? From where have you come? Where, your roots? And what your point of view? In any case, you have surely travelled far to be here now. So what now? What next? And to where? Or are you perhaps one who prefers not to know your destination, simply enjoying the sensation of being a little lost, a little adrift, afloat upon the dancing river of life … knowing that this great life energy, great life spirit, seeks not to restrain us, in any way, but lifts us up, rather, stage by stage, to wider and more open spaces … open spaces, and warm, open, faces … and faces, and faces, and faces, and so many faces, so many, many faces, and faces, facing it, and just facing it, just facing it, faces, facing, such beauty, in motion, emotion, and the motion of movement itself, moving time, flowing time, a mystery, and travelling always towards the over there, the beyond, and beyond even the I, and the You, and the That, towards a kind of ecstasy, an o, an om, a ho, a hum, a hymn, a huh, a why, a who. / (Your smile brings joy) / Asking: what is your name? Who are you? / And who am I, for that matter? Who am I, to you? / (Am I only one, or one of many, perhaps, or no one?). / Of course, the thing is not so much what we call each other, or the fact that we may be mistaken and getting our names quite wrong, like calling a wrong number … no; the important thing … well … who really knows? … who really knows … the one mind … with an attitude of humility, even reverence … standing under … and perhaps also understanding … sometimes … a little … if only a little … in confidence, trust, good faith … so as to drop the reins completely … to let go … and, letting go … letting it all go … to be open, free … and to lose ourselves once again, a bit, and then again, still more (as if in love) … so do let’s smile, say hello, establish contact, make a call, write a letter, be in touch … for in this way, we’ll share perhaps a word, and perhaps a world … / And I am glad that now our paths have crossed, for here is where we meet. / This day, this journey; paths crossed, stories shared: a time to keep silence, yes, but also a time to talk, break bread, sip tea; a time to sit still, for a while, to rest, to relax, and a time to move on. / It’s been a great pleasure to meet you and to speak with you this day, to share stories and journeys. / (Thank you). / May you know great happiness, in love, and gratitude. / And, until next time, same place, or some place other, like a wayfaring stranger, a wise traveller, walking always in confidence, trust, good faith, and, whether in company, or seemingly, alone: bon voyage, my friend; fare well.
© Bede Nix, 2017. All rights reserved.
In Thought, A Face
In thought absorbed, in the depth of thought, absorbed, a face, cut as if from fabric, may sometimes wrinkle, sometimes crease …
And you look so deathly serious, my friend!
Your face so grave … graven … as if engraved … a line of thought, written upon the face, which sometimes I imagine that I can read, as if reading you like a book, and at other times, as now, the text seeming impenetrable, as if infinitely mysterious, unfathomable, unknowable.
(A foreign language).
What is it?
What then, your preoccupation, or concern? Your incomprehension, or bewilderment? Or what, perhaps, your secret happiness?
Sadness? Anxiety? Disappointment? Dismay? Melancholy? Regret? Grief? Anguish? Embarrassment? Envy? Jealousy? Guilt? Impatience? Fear? Frustration? Anger? Bitterness? Dread? Rage? Hatred? Despair?
Something of that, perhaps?
Or is it, rather, an excited anticipation?
Hope? Joy? Delight? Passion? Love?
(A relief, at any rate).
–It could be so many things.
And our emotions move the heart and stir the mind, enslaving us to passion, and getting us all worked up, and rendering everything at times so confused, and subject to so much desire, and so much suffering.
And there, upon the face, a line of thought that seeks perhaps the clarity of word, and perhaps a word’s beguiling promise, of separation, of liberation, a release of emotion, and a hope for freedom, for freedom from thought, from further thought, from thinking further.
(Some peace of mind).
And this line of thought, this long, long line of thought, looking back, looking back upon it, traced in memory, like so many steps along a journey, and something like a path, perhaps, a kind of life lived, or story, his story, her story, where we’ve been, or to where we’re going back, a mind’s eye’s dreamlike journeyings, forming pools here of reflection, reflections there fading, fading away, away, fading.
And are you not then but a mirror of time? A mirror of time’s reflections?
And I reach out for and take up my pen now as if my instinct were spontaneously to draw you; you, I mean; really you …
(To draw you near).
(And it’s perhaps just a helpful way to see you, by way of profile, or portrait; a vision, something like).
(In creative imagination, some empathy).
(And the consolation, warming, heartening, like an offer of hospitality, and a belief, a hope, a trust, in comprehension, in understanding).
(A kind of refuge).
And then, for but a moment, timeless, time’s glimpse into eternity, I rest my gaze upon you and, observing, try to see you, really you, and, while tracing these thoughts, as lines, I see each line of thought as if a detail, a feature, upon your face, and each detail, each feature, upon your face, as if a line of thought.
And I allow–I hold–that thought.
(And with it, I turn my thoughts to what feels then like an infinite tenderness, like a light sea breeze in summer; a gentle caress).
(To be in touch).
(And no more tension, then; no more resistance).
And so I draw you near, hold you dear … listening … your beating heart, its pulse, and rhythm, an ebb, and ocean flow, in breathing, in breathing … in listening … in breathing, in breathing … in listening … a kind of music … a music, of mind … a sky blue mind … full of light … and seeming so lucid … and clear …
(And refreshing – so refreshing!)
So that there then you are, somehow, held near, held dear, in this but a wrinkle, a crease, upon my face, absorbed in thought, a line of thought; and an embrace, of sorts.
(Your face, or mine; your thought, or mine; or another’s; eyes open, or closed; reach out, that’s all; no matter).
(And we then, who we, the so many, so very many, for whom you, for whom you, in passing, our love, my love, such love).
And here then this line, this thought, this line of thought, for the love of this, our human life, and for the love of your life, of you, and for the love of you, this life, your love, and then, too, for the love of, and for, your children, and the love of, and for, your parents, and their parents, your grandparents, and the love of your siblings, hopefully, and your friends, of course, and all your lovers, many, or few, and not last, and certainly not least, let’s not forget your husbands, or your wives, your life’s companions, and above all (such gratitude) to this your life of love, of searching love.
Love of this.
And love of you.
Love of this life.
This life of love, and …
Gently, then; ever so gently.
Hold me gently.
Hold on gently.
Or so I thought.
© Bede Nix, 2017. All rights reserved.
Almaty is Kazakhstan’s largest city, and its former, historic, and cultural capital. It is Kazakhstan’s major financial centre and also boasts the country’s largest airport.
The city is located in the foothills of the Trans-Mi Alatu (or Zailiyskiy Alatau) in the extreme south-east.
The population of the city is about 2 million.
Almaty remains the largest, most developed, and most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan.
The city has also a significant population of ethnic Russians and Ukrainians.
Almaty has a relatively mild climate with warm summers and moderately cold winters.
Since the city is situated in a tectonically active area, there is an endemic risk of earthquakes; thankfully, most do not cause significant damage.
Almaty may derive its name from the Kazakh word for “apple” (“alma”), and the city, at least until recent times, was famed as “the city full of apples”.
“Alma” is also “apple” in other Turkic languages (as well as in Hungarian and Mongolian); and “Ata” in Turkic languages means “forefather”. For this reason, Almaty is believed by many to be the apple’s ancestral home and, as such, the sight of the Garden of Eden.
The city has a spectacular beauty, whether or not it was the Garden of Eden.
And the city’s mountain backdrop is certainly a dramatic and impressive sight.
I write this sketch to serve as a verbal “snapshot”, or holiday photo, a recollection, a reminder, words scribbled on a postcard, a small souvenir.
I visited Almaty for the first time in 2015, in the company of a dear Kazakh friend and her youngest brother and sister, and various of her family and friends, and my own family, my wife and son.
And we were in Almaty for barely a week.
Nevertheless, I knew that I would feel at home in Almaty when, within a few minutes of arrival in the city, our taxi passed large statues of two old, dear friends: Krokodil Gena and Cheburashka!
Of course, I cannot claim to know the city well.
(But by thinking about Almaty again now, I hope to get to know the city a little better).
On my personalized map of the city there are for the moment perhaps four or five places or areas to where I can close my eyes and travel with ease.
And in my mind’s eye, I see these places very clearly and vividly and, from time to time, I haunt them in my imagination, walking there again.
The first place on my imaginary itinerary is the Green Market, with its rich colours and smells, sights and sounds, fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, breads and pastries, drapes and furnishings, clothes and carpets, almost anything and everything, in fact, such that whatever it is you are looking for, you will probably find it there.
And as the imagination recognizes no limits but its own, and so simply because we can, let’s at once take a huge giant’s leap up from Green Market to Green Hill, with its marvellous views across the city and beyond; a place where the stunning photo opportunity competes only with the fun of all the brightly lit restaurants and amusement rides.
Far more to my liking, however, and certainly more to the liking of my son, were the many amusements of the Central Park, near the zoo, and situated just off Gogol street not far from the flat we had rented for the week. And I took it as a sign of just how at home and how completely relaxed my son felt in Almaty, as in Kazakhstan in general, that he wanted on this occasion to try out for the first time many of the larger and more adventurous fairground rides. He perhaps discovered there, or perhaps simply recognized, a taste for adventure and the extent of his courage. And he enjoyed himself immensely.
On another of our days, feeling in need of some relaxation after so much amusement, we walked across the “28 Park” (a park named after the 28 Almaty soldiers who died, along with so many “Panfilov Heros”, while defending Moscow from the Nazis), admiring on our way the Zenkov Cathedral, and booked ourselves a massage and private sauna in the “Arasan Spa”, or hot baths; sheer bliss!
And this was the same sense of deep relaxation, and taste of bliss, that I explored almost every day during our stay when I took classes in Kazakh-style “Khoomei”, a style of throat singing in low, deep, gravelly voice. Our classes were just along the street from where we were staying, at the Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments, an absolutely marvellous, magical museum, and for me a kind of “home from home”. And my teacher there, my master, my shamanic guide, was the wonderful Abzal Arykbayev.
This “voice work” was intensely stimulating not only to voice, but also to the entire body, and to the mind, too.
In the evenings, sitting on the balcony with my wife and our Kazakh friend, it was no wonder that we found ourselves dreaming of the wild beauty of the steppe with a longing to taste freedom within the vast, flowing expanse of Kazakh sky, and to allow our imaginations to take flight, as eagles … soaring across the skies … to the Big Almaty Lake, to Alpingrad, to Charyn, to the Assy Plateau, to the Altyn-Emel Park, to the Kolsai Lakes, and then farther, and farther still, away, and far away, and far away, the horizon, beyond …
(In Kazakhstan, it can be enough simply to lose one’s eyes in the heavens to gain some insight into “Tengri”).
This for the moment is the extent of “my” fondly recalled city of Almaty, and the Almaty region.
Even so, it’s already a treasure of happy memory.
And, as such, it is indeed a kind of garden of Eden.
(And may I return there again, and soon, and not only in my imagination, but also in person.)
© Bede Nix, September 2015. All rights reserved.