Creating a social circle isn’t easy and here I’ve deliberately removed myself from the comforting embrace of mine! Camped out at the Best Western. The temples are gorgeous and ornate. The entrance is rather plain, but the remaining three exterior walls are intricately decorated with tile. Legend has it that a religious mystic, Arystan-Bab, was the teacher and spiritual mentor of Khoja Ahmad Yasawi. Here we get to the problem and the joy of foreign service. They even have a big registry book at the museum where you can jot down something like, “I think my great uncle Ivan Denisovich was sent here in 1942. coffee to get through my morning. Many of the myths recounted later have their origins in stories apparently deliberately circulated by Tamerlane and his entourage. The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi was later built on the site of his grave by Timur in Turkistan City. Yet if I was not in the Foreign Service I likely wouldn’t get to Turkistan and Shymkent at all. So there it is. But soon came tour buses full of adults and school children, and along with them ladies selling cotton candy and men selling camel rides. Midway through my six week TDY (temporary duty) assignment in the capital, the president resigned. Stop at Taraz, one of Kazakhstan’s oldest cities, Sayram, birthplace of the holy man buried in Turkistan, and at the ruins of Sauran, former Mongol capital city near Turkistan. Or I think I’ve found what I need because I can read the tiniest bit of Russian but because it’s hard for me to read Russian I stop reading once I think I’ve found what I need, don’t read the smaller print, and only realize once I get home that all that powdered sugar I bought is lemon flavored. Consequently, I did less research about this trip than perhaps anywhere else I’ve ever gone and I can’t impress you with a newfound knowledge of Thai history or culture. But by the days of Nur-Sultan, most of the ice had melted and, with the help of human and machine snow removers, I could walk without fear. The town itself, I had read, could be seen in a day. 3/4 (2000). Fifty seven came and went, Yes, my friends, no amal just a pounding head, My teacher held my hand, thank God, Bir wa Bar shall I see the Face of God? Awesome. So it’s glass half full or half empty depending on how you want to see it I guess. But sites like the Mausoleum of Ahmed Yasawi remain crucial sites of memory for diverse communities. Fortunately, CDC’s Central Asia offices are based in the Almaty consulate, meaning the regional director is a coworker and I have his contact info. Then came the request for a selfie with me. At thirty-six I grew in grace, Lord Mustafa, revealed His Light, Upon that Light eyes filled with tears, prostrate I fell, The blade of love my heart and liver shred, mv friends. Alas it was still a bit early for lunch. Some days I get grumpy about Kazakhstan. At the age of 63, he made the somewhat drastic decision to ‘go underground’, where experiences of solitary confinement within his cell helped him to constantly move towards 'Riyazat' (a state Sufis describe as total cleansing towards the attainment of a pure heart). According to a legend, Arystan-Bab was an associate of the Prophet Muhammad. When I die beat me one hundred thousand times, Thus I pray to the Divine, Yes, I….. With all these vices twenty-five I reached, Dear Lord through Zikr pierce my chest, Untie the aggregated knots I keep within, Thus I pray to the Divine, Yes, I. He announced his decision to step down right before the Nauryz holiday, comparable to making a big announcement on Christmas Eve, when people are too preoccupied with festivities to go out and protest (there were still protests). The Marriage of Ivan IV and Maria Temryukovna, Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, Vepkhistqaosani, “Knight in the Panther’s Skin”, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
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