I was looking out of the kitchen window this morning as I washed a couple of glasses reflecting on how different the process is in one’s home as compared to a restaurant or bar, wondering how the neighbors wash their glasses.
We live at the end of a short street and after eight years are not friends with any of the neighbors by mutual agreement. With the possible exception of the Hispanic family at the other end who might have voted Democrat, I’m sure the rest of the street voted Trump.
There are a couple of small houses with elderly women living in them who may not have voted, an elderly couple whose car is covered with Marine Corps stickers, whose yard is marked by its controlled geometric design (usually a mark of conservative attitudes).
Closer neighbors include a young couple from the backwoods of North Carolina who proudly fly a confederate battle flag in a yard filled with dog crates, kids toys, and last year’s vegetable garden; an elderly couple whose house and yard are neat and clean (next door to the hillbilly) and our next door neighbors, a man in his mid-60s whose wife and father have both died, who takes care of his 89 year old demented mother. Across from them is a single man who is a retired Juvenile Detention Center warden. He spends all of his time in his garage running power tools.
We might as well be living in Uzbekistan.
When I think of really foreign places I don’t think of Fiji, or New Guinea, or Chad; I think of Uzbekistan or Azerbaijan.
(Patients take a soak in hot crude oil which is said to be antiseptic and antiinflammatory).
The natives of those two countries are not just Caucasians, they are from the Caucasus, but hardly look familiar, or sound familiar. The peoples of the Caucasus -which is defined as the mountainous area between the Black and Caspian seas – are extremely linguistically diverse.
The native languages of the Caucasus are not Indo-European, but many people who live there, Armenians and Persians, for example, speak Indo-European languages. In addition there are Turkic language speakers, Semitic language speakers, like Arabs and Jews who speak a form of Aramaic, and speakers of languages of which you have most probably never heard.
What do you know of the Caucasus?
If you were like I as a young person, you read of the Cossacks, storied soldiers who fought for both Poland and Russia from the 15th to the 17th centuries, who maintained some level of autonomy by playing one nation against the other. I thought they were from the Caucasus, but they were originally Ukrainian, Lithuanian and Muscovite serfs who left the land for the northern Caucasus where they formed “hosts” of semi-military settlements along the Ural, Volga and Dnieper rivers. The word Cossack is from the Russian kazak from the Turkic word kazak meaning “independent”, “adventurer” or “free-man”.
So, when you mentioned, Caucasus I thought, Cossack, but they were only a small part of the picture.
Some years ago I read that some of the longest living people in the world are from the Caucasus. It was theorized that the secret lay in their diet, or some genetic trait. It is true that the people of the region tend to eat a primarily vegetarian diet, eat fresh food, and eat small portions. Obesity was not historically a problem.
But, as it turns out, individuals who were moved from the Caucasus to Moscow have died at the same ages as ethnic Russians. Maybe it was their diet? That appears to be out, as well.
Christian Armenians who fled the Armenian genocide and settled among the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Azerbaijanis, eating the same basic diet, don’t live a long time, and ethnic Russians who moved there during the era of the Soviet Union die of alcoholism just like they did in what is no longer their home.
The theory now is that the primarily Muslim families in countries like Azerbaijan have extended family connections that provide for both financial and emotional protection and support.
That’s a neighborhood we might all want to live in.
This morning my Trumpite sister-in-law was urging everyone to boycott the Oscars. I don’t remember being invited. I know, I know. It’s about not watching Meryl Streep get another Oscar and spend her time on stage delivering a political rant against the present administration.
The point, I think, is that our sisters and brothers and their families live half way across the country, our kids and grandchildren live all of the way across the country, and as different as we all are we are all still family, but can provide no real support. Instead, we’re all living in a virtual world surrounded by strangers.
We have no tribe.