A big story of a small nation: Kyrgyz Republic
When I say the Kyrgyz Republic, everybody is like: “Ah?” Which republic? The Czech Republic?
Noo, Kyrgyz Republic, unofficial name is Kyrgyzstan!
Again: “Ah? Kurdistan? It should be in Turkey?”
And on and on I start my mini-story about who Kyrgyzs are and how they appeared on Earth once a day in Central Asia.
Yes, we love eating and riding horses and we do speak Russian and Kyrgyz.
We invented Ethnic Olympiad called World Nomad Games.
Yes, we do live in the cities, not in yurts and we don’t have tubes (undeground), because we live in the seismic zone.
We are the first country which elected woman president in newly independent countries (ex-soviets), and the Kyrgyz Republic is the only freely elected parliamentary democracy in Central Asia.
Uuh, I can tell it now in a single burst.
Forty clans of Manas (a legendary hero who united Kyrgyzs against the enemies) — “Kyrgyz” — Turkic word for forty.
Before you ask me, who is Manas, let me just tell you one fun fact.
In effect, my country is the delivery hub for Santa Claus…
Yes, I am totally serious. Engineers at the “Sweco” Swedish consulting firm made a number of calculations, having assumed where most children on the planet live and the Earth’s rotation. So, these guys determined the Kyrgyz Republic is the ideal spot from which Santa should begin his round-the-world trip on the eve of Christmas.
Talking about snow, for the record, I should mention snow leopards. If I am asked what animal I would be born in my next life, my answer is Snow Leopard — a terrific predator which is not a threat to humans.
Perhaps, you might know or didn’t know that this wildcat doesn’t row due to the anatomy of its throat. It lives in the territory of 12 countries including the Kyrgyz Republic with 4000–7000 individuals left. In my country, there are only about 400 species.
In 2017 my president for the third time conveyed leaders of 12 snow leopard countries and held the International Forum on the preservation of Snow Leopard and its ecosystem to make a noise on the extinction of this beautiful cat.
First ever in the history, my country developed and made Ethnic Olympiad in 2014 — World Nomad Games — international sports competition dedicated to ethnic sports practiced in Central Asia. This year we had the third WNGs. More than 77 countries took part in the games. The fourth one will be held in Turkey in 2020.
I wouldn’t play one of the games of WNG, because my team would definitely be beaten because of my fault. Dangerous, brutal but fascinating game — Kok-Boru is very popular in the country. It is supposed that this game can be played by those who are very well trained and physically truly strong.
Two teams of riders try to carry a dead goat (!!!) or its carcass into the opposing teams end zone into the giant pot called Tai-Kazan — its presence in our Kok-Boru differentiate it from the simplified varieties of the game in Central Asia. Else-wise it is called Goat Polo. There are several Kyrgyz national heritages included in UNESCO’s list. Kok-Boru was listed as well from my country.
Although I am a worst Kok-Boru player, but when people ask me who are my ancestors, my answer is I am the descendant of Manas the Magnanimous. Manas — national hero, a man who united Kyrgyzs and made us Kyrgyzs. Epic of Manas is a traditional Kyrgyz epic poem, the sequel in 3 books. The first is titled “Manas”, the second episode describes the deeds of his son Semetei, and the third episode is about grandson Seitek.
Manas is the classic centrepiece of Kyrgyz literature, and parts of it are often recited at Kyrgyz festivities by specialists in the epic, called Manaschi. To my mind, Manaschis are aliens on the planet Earth. These people are born with the talent to recite — they can clearly visualise the chronicles of clashes of Manas’s warriors in their mind and tell you the story endlessly. This is natural phenomenon which no one can explain. If you are interested just Google it.
Manas has a wife — Kanykei and she is Tajik (from Tajikistan). This is the truthful love story which describes how Manas and Kyrgyzs are friendly to other nationalities and made interethnic marriages. Kanykei’s life is a story of the empowered woman who supported Manas and offered him a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on.
There are zillions of stories of empowered women in my country. And the best one is Alai Quinn. Take a note — Kurmajandatka is the Kyrgyz symbol of gender equality.
This woman made her own destiny and took a lead over the Kyrgyz community in mountains. Kurmanjan datka is the courageous and independent woman. She is revered to this day for her diplomacy. She led Alai Kyrgyzs to join Russian Federation to save her nation from complete destruction from invasions of enemies.
I can tell you endlessly the stories of strong Kyrgyz women. The second love story after Romeo and Juliette is the Kyrgyz novel “Jamila” (Kyrgyz young woman). It’s not me who told it. Its French poet Louis Aragon. He said that “Jamila” written by Kyrgyz writer Chyngyz Aitmatov is the most beautiful love story in the world.
God in literature, Russian and Kyrgyz writer — Chyngyz Aitmatov is the second epic hero in my country after Manas. His novels were written in Russian and then translated to many other languages. My favourite one is “The Mark of Kassandra” — a fiction story about artificial human being.
Kyrgyz towns and cities are fabulous and Osh is the second largest city in the country located in the south. I love this city not only because you will find the biggest 1-kilo samosa here and the delicious Central Asian paella (plov, pillau) but because when I am in the city I discover it once again every time and truly enjoy it.
40 minutes flight from Bishkek, Osh is often referred to as the “capital of the south” — one of the oldest cities in the country and the region estimated to be more than 3000 years old! Very diverse, multi-national and with its own eastern touch. The Mountain Sulaiman (Sulaiman-Too) in the centre of the city is a national treasure included by UNESCO into World Heritages. If you ask me what Osh for me is, I would answer: “Osh is hot and in my heart.”
Half of the Kyrgyz population every summer moves out from their cities and towns and rush into Issyk-Kul area. This is the tradition and need of every Kyrgyz citizen. Issyk-Kul lake is 182 kilometers long, up to 60 kilometers wide with a total area 6,236 square kilometers The second-largest mountain lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America.
If you ask anyone in the Kyrgyz Republic — how are you going to spend your summer holidays? The answer is “I am going to Issyk-Kul”. In effect, the most comfortable 4-star hotels on Issyk-Kul shore dozen times expensive than a 5-star hotel in Turkey. In spite of that, these hotels are very popular. Nevertheless, you will always find cheaper and quite comfortable guest houses and 3-star hotels at very affordable prices. I was born in the southern part of Issyk-Kul lake. If you ask me: “What is Issyk-Kul?” My answer is: “Issyk-Kul is cool!”
Christmas and New Year is a milestone for human-being. This time we usually sum up the results and make new plans for the new year while having fun, skiing during holidays, enjoying good wine.
Karakol is the fourth largest city in my country, the eastern part of Issyk-Kul Lake. The ski resorts of Karakol are located 7 km out of town in Tien Shan Mountains at an altitude of 2,300 to 3,040 meters. If you adore skiing and snowboarding in the mountains of Switzerland and love red wine but would like to explore a new country, I urge you coming to the Kyrgyz Republic. Why? Well, my country was proclaimed back a second Switzerland. Not because we also produce cheese and chocolate and just for the record we also produce wine, champagne, and cognac, but because of mountains. If you look at the map, you will see the Kyrgyz Republic is totally comprised of mountains. And this is how we live; our life runs at a high altitude.
I invite every one of you to visit the Kyrgyz Republic and discover the big story of my small nation. Cheers.