– And it’s me who is the most useful! – mooed the calf. I feed the humans. Everyone needs my milk!
– No, I am the most useful! – bleated the lamb. – Humans make all their clothes from my wool…
– Well, I am the most clean! And the humans love me for it. – the little goat interrupted. – And they say that goats’ milk is the best medicine!
– You mean the best medicine apart from horses’ milk! – snorted the foal. – How can you forget our fresh saumal and kumys?
– You’re both wrong! The best milk comes from camels. It’s called shubat! – said the little camel. … More Kind Askar – a translation of some fairy-tales by the Kazakh author Bayangali Alimzhanov
I was recently a guest of journalist Maria Koltsova on her podcast about Central Asia, ‘From Samarkand to Issyk-Kul’. I talked about my experiences of travelling in Kazakhstan – some favourite places in Almaty and the south-east of the country, some unforgettable foods and drinks, how Kazakh people surprised me, and how Kazakhstan compares to the other post-Soviet republics. We also talked about the practicalities of visiting Kazakhstan – how safe it is, how expensive things are, and what languages people speak. Listen to the podcast (in Russian; 29 minutes) on Maria’s page: ‘From Samarkand to Issyk-Kul’. … More Travelling in Kazakhstan: Talking on the ‘Samarkand to Issyk-Kul’ podcast with Maria Koltsova
“For most of my travels I have been under the influence of alcohol. In my defence, I had to be: by a very fortunate twist of fate, I once worked as an analyst in the wine and spirits industry.
Covering the Eurasia region I travelled to several countries to discover what – and how much – the people in this part of the world drink. I learned that a country’s choice of tipple always reveals something great about their culture. Behind the data and numbers in my reports were hundreds of stories – not to mention some delicious memories”. … More Tipsy travels: a tour of Eurasia’s favourite drinks – Bradt Guides
‘Grandad! Ata! How did you even stay alive? How did you live to be a hundred in such good health and sound mind?’ my loved ones asked.
‘I’m surprised myself,’ I answered. ‘Probably the Almighty wanted you all to be born, and he had to keep me alive to drag me through the fire and ice of the godless people.’
– Bayangali Alimzhanov – A Hundred Years on the Steppe … More A Hundred Years on the Steppe – my translation of a novel by the Kazakh author Bayangali Alimzhanov
It’s long past midnight in a rugged little town high up in the Caucasus Mountains, and I’m lying on my back in the middle of an icy street, gazing up at the stars. There is freezing air in my lungs, a mountain climb in my legs, and half a bottle of chacha in my veins. I am so happy I can’t move.
I arrived in northern Georgia from Tbilisi the night before, and booked a room in a guesthouse in Stepantsminda (also called Kazbegi), to make the trek up to Gergeti Trinity Church – one of the most beautiful places in the Caucasus. … More Getting drunk on my own in the former Soviet republics: Confessions of an alcohol analyst