Friday, August 10, 2007

couple of interesting places to go

Stop-over #1: I was trolling around the folks on Blogger who have an interest in Central Asia and found The Azamat Report. He appears to be a twenty-something reading, writing, and thinking out loud in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I left Azamat a comment and hopefully he'll come here to check out my ramblings, as well.

Stop-over #2: He linked to The Political Compass -- which is a very interesting survey for assessing where one finds oneself on the Left-Right and Authoritarian-Libertarian axes. He and I turned out to be quite close, although I was a little disturbed (mostly for their sakes) to find myself apparently sandwiched between Gandhi and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. It's one thing to be brave on an internet survey, and I can only hope that my life demonstrates their courage and conviction.

Stop-over #3: My wife's sister, Annie, is on her way back to Mongolia in just under a week to study the country's special education system, such as it may or may not be, under the auspices of the Fulbright Scholarship program. Her future roommate, who is also there on a Fulbright, has this very interesting blog.

So folk aren't working too hard to put the pieces together: my wife served in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, her brother served in Kyrgyzstan (and then received a Fulbright to study in Uzbekistan), and her younger sister served in Mongolia. I was lucky to marry my wife and spend our honeymoon visiting Annie-bagsh in Mongolia in December, 2004. We just received our tickets to go back in February, 2008. As I said to Azamat, I am fascinated by what 'nationalism' means in post-colonial nations, whether that's the post-colonial Middle East or the post-Soviet Caucusus and Central Asia.

Stop-over #4: I have almost finished Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road -- which is a very interesting travelogue and meditation on nationalism, identity, and exchange. I did find its tone to be a mixture of melancholy and mystery: melancholy insofar as he seems to be finding the 'new' Silk Road a shadow of a former Silk Road he'd visited earlier; mysterious because the book reminds me of Borges's aphoristic 'On Exactitude on Science'.

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