This week, I began reading S. Frederick Starr’s Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, a big thick book (634 pages) I bought in hardback, because reviewers said, don’t buy the Kindle version.
Since the U.S.S.R. fell apart, I’ve become very interested in the nations in Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Block, and read several books on this subject, including Valerie Hanson’s The Silk Road, John Darwin’s After Tamerlane, Christopher Beckworth’s Empires of the Silk Road: A Hisory of Central Eurasia, and others.
An archeologist affiliated with Johns Hopkins, S. F. Starr wrote a review appearing in the Washington Post last Sunday, for another book on Central Asia, and I thought I would check him out. So far so good, however, what a crazy quilt of languages is this area, which includes Afghanistan.
Recently, in a doctor’s office, I encountered a young woman medical assistant from Turkmenistan. At first, I thought perhaps she was Spanish, but she soon made me aware of her roots. She seemed pleased that I actually had some vague idea where her country was located.
In case you hadn’t noticed, many Muslim migrants from former Soviet Republics have come to the US since the “fall of the wall.” When I had surgery last year, my nurse was “from Russia with love” as she put it, although it turned out she was really from Romania and thought perhaps I wouldn’t know where it was.
As you grow older and are no longer part of the labor force, you become invisible. Over the years you lose contact, or your friends and acquaintances die, or they can’t remember anything either.
I had a memory bubble this week, where I recalled what I used to do long ago…when worked for money. Amazingly, I don’t miss it at all, however, I am grateful for all the kind migrant Muslim medical personnel I encounter these days.
Working for Bell, drawing maps,. This photo appeared in The Nation’s Business in 1986