Politics: The Year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat (2015) Will Be Decisive

As the year of the wooden horse is closing, the United States has officially ended one of its longer wars in a complete and unmitigated defeat. Over 5,000 Afghans died just this year, Afghanistan's economy is in ruins, and narcotics production is at an all-time high. In a real sense, however, the war is not actually over; over 10,000 US soldier remain in-country, and will for another six years. The Taliban has declared victory. Few would argue.

Afghanistan is the third defeat in six years of the Obama Administration--Iraq and Libya, preceded this debacle, while Syria is not settled, yet. Republicans may be wrong on the Benghazi situation, but they are correct if they think that overall, the Libyan policy has been a failure.

2015, however, will be decisive in another part of the world. The lines have been drawn between Russia and the United States. The Administration has dropped the long-standing lie that anti-missile systems to be placed (perhaps, may even already be) in Poland and Romania are aimed against Iran and that, in fact, they are anti-Russian. The recently passed and signed Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 stops just short of a direct declaration of war, but its war intent is clear and unhidden. At the signing of the legislation the President issued a statement that there were no plans to implement the authorized sanctions at that time, next day another round of sanctions was announced. There is a real possibility that next will be suspension of MasterCard/Visa services (they already have been suspended for Crimea), and then closing the SWIFT international bank payment transfer system to Russia (threats have been made since last summer). China's offer to render help, if needed, is an important indicator. The American goal is to create a Cuba-like blockade in hopes that this will lead to a revolt against Putin. Some experts believe that the US believe those ends can be achieved within the next year.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine a few important statements and developments bear note. Recently Prime Minister Yatsenyuk has said directly, that joining NATO was the prime goal of last year's Maidan (that may be a surprise to some of the early protesters). The Rada passed, and the President signed, a law vacating Ukraine's non-alignment status. For the first time, Ukraine has officially declared Russia an enemy. According to polls, over seventy percent of Ukrainians believe that they are at war with Russia. The economy is in collapse, with one minister declaring that the economic plan should entail closing every factory that can be closed, and selling everything else off. Prognosis for such thinking is, that Ukraine will have a smaller Per capita GDP than Moldova (poorest country in Europe). It is obvious to anyone looking closely at the situation that Ukraine is currently run (in its foreign/military policies) by America. The intent is clear: create a pliable state that will become an American base against Russia. The Ukraine Freedom Support Act works hand-in-glove with that idea. NATO membership is not mandatory, just as Qatar is not a NATO member but boast the largest American foreign military base.

From the Russian perspective, after twenty three years of vacillating but overall hostile policies, and disingenuous protestations, the American hand is clear and above-board. For Russia, this is a battle for survival of the state. The recently published revised Military Doctrine, for the first time in history allows for a Russian nuclear first-strike. At this point, I share an Israeli intelligence analyst's view that the "ball" is Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu's (an ethnic Tuvan) court. Defense of the country is his responsibility.

Russia has very clearly drawn its bottom line: A unified, but non-aligned Ukraine (minus Crimea), with no American/NATO bases. There will be no compromises made on this. How Defense Minister Shoigu achieves that end, we will see in 2015.

Thoughts: Google Translate and Writing.

BookCoverPreview-002Google translate is a wonderful service. While I know people who have read whole books by utilizing its capabilities, usually it has served me best in translating brief pieces of text in an unfamiliar language. I also use it to spell check my writing in Russian, since most misspelled words are not translated—useful. Recently I have been writing an autobiography at the request of a Russian periodical, and thought it would be fun to share part of that piece in an unedited Google translation:
“ "The World of Russian borsch," this is the first study of the history and socio-geographical worldwide distribution of borscht. Narrative devices use to transmit remembering emotional and spiritual heritage of a traditionally cuisine translate this book from the category of pure hut or even scientific and historical books. Recipes, of course there is - more than seventy, but the author considers most important to convey the notion of the people.

Among the recipes have a recipe for "Kalmyk borscht." This recipe is the author received from the Kalmyk immigrant first wave. Meeting the author was familiar with this final chapter of the book. In a concept, is the end of the last chapter unites Sh first, in which he shares with his memories of borscht cooked his godmother (Kuban Cossack), and which prompted the writing of this book. It turns round way of life, and we all know how important symbol of the circle, and the Kalmyk and Russian culture. Interestingly, the ingredients of the Kalmyk Kalmyk borscht similar Sh ingredients borscht Volga Germans. The assumption of the author that the Kalmyks have learned to cook borsch not Ukrainians or Russian, a their neighbors, the Germans. When the author shared his observations and assumptions, his friend said happily - "Oh, yes! The Germans lived near our village."

Borsch, certainly not to arouse interest in Kalmykia and the Kalmyk culture, it is necessary to thank Buddhism. In the year 2009 the author wrote a thesis about Buddhism in Russia, prepared for the four-year completion on Buddhism and entry to the rank of a Buddhist priest.”

BookCoverPreview (1)-001My theory is, that the more idiomatically one writes the stranger the translation.

Politics: Putin's December 4th Speech and Mythopoetics

Today, in his address to the Federal Assembly (the Russian Federation’s national legislature), Vladimir Putin began with Crimea. His message was clear an unambiguous: “Precisely here [Crimea] lies the spiritual source that formed the multi-faceted, but monolithic Russian nation and centralized government. (…) For Russia, Crimea has great civilizational and sacral meanings; just as the Temple Mount has for those who practice Islam and Judaism. This is precisely how we will approach this—henceforth, and forever.”

While this position precludes realization of fantasies of possible accommodations in terms of reviving a status quo ante, it accomplishes two positive ends: 1) It does not preclude Ukraine’s formal relationship to Crimea (provided, it subscribes to a common heritage of Russians and Ukrainians) and, 2) it helps disarm conservative Russian nationalists who have been lobbying for a quick invasion of Kiev and the physical reintegration of Ukraine into the “Russian World.”

imagesRussian conservative thought rests on two major premises: 1) Kiev as the birthplace of the Russian nation and, 2) Moscow as the Third Rome. By establishing Crimea as the birthplace of Russian spirituality and statehood, Putin took away the central symbolic value of Kiev to Russian nationalists. With Crimea, a historically multi-ethnic peninsula, becoming the leading symbol of Russia its thousand-year history is reaffirmed, without denigrating the historical multi-ethnicity of Russia. The “pure Russia” movement, that has strong fascistic tendencies, is effectively defanged by this formulation. For an active politician to so clearly and purposefully engage in mythopoetics is highly unusual. In that way, Putin recalls Ronald Reagan, without the latter’s disinterest in governance.

Overall, the speech was highly specific—laying out a vision and program for Russia’s future. A very interesting sidelight of it was his deft reminder of German dominance over its European neighbors. Lightly, but incisively, he posited that Europe has become a German project, allied with, and serving the US. Given the current tensions existing in Europe, which will only grow, the resentment of Germany will also grow.

Cancellation of “South Stream” and the intent to create a gas hub on the border between Turkey and Greece will enhance some interesting centrifugal forces. I would not be surprised, if in the next few years Greece abandoned the EU and joined the Customs Union. The prominent mention of Crimea, with its ancient Greek presence, in the formation of Russian religion and state is a balm to a country that has seen little except privation as a member of the Western European world.

Politics: Hawaii, Russia, and Crimea--Why Alaska was Sold to the US.


In March of 1854 King Kamehameha III sent a message to Russia warning it, that Britain was sending ships to invade the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Russians who had friendly relations with the kingdom of Hawaii since 1815, when they built a number of forts on those islands, with the largest being Fort Elizabeth on Kauaʻi, paid heed to the message and began to prepare the city of Petropavlovsk for an invasion. Sure enough, in August of the year, a combined force of British/French ships and ground troops attacked Petropavlovsk and were repulsed by a numerically inferior Russian force. In the end, the battle of Kamchatka is seen as a complete defeat of the British Navy in the Pacific.

The Crimean War as a whole, however, was a defeat for Russia, who was facing the Ottomans, British, French and even Italians and Austro-Hungarians. It was also marked by revolts in Kiev, and the beginning of Ukrainian nationalism expressed in Khlopomanstvo. Ukrainian nationalism was fostered by Austria-Hungary as a way to control the western parts of today’s Ukraine and Poland, which were under its rule.


The defeat in the Crimean war led Russia to evaluate its Alaskan possession. The British strategy of attempting to ensure its dominance of the seas by initiating naval actions in the White, Baltic, and Black Seas, as well as, the Pacific led Russia to the conclusion that protecting its marginally profitable Alaskan possession against the growing presence of the British in British Columbia was not feasible. Russia decided to consolidate its logistic lines and defenses on the other side of the Pacific, and sell Alaska to the US for 2 cents an acre.

In a sense, today’s conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe can be seen as a continuation, or renewal, of the Crimean war, with some major differences: Britain has been replaced by the US as the major aggressor, Ukraine replaced the Ottoman Empire as the "Sick Man of Europe" and proxy in America's war, NATO is replacing France of 1854, and the EU represents the rest of the European "Greek Chorus." One big difference, is that in 1854 Britain and France were growing in dominance, while today the BRIC countries are growing, while the Atlantic countries are fading. In this view, the return of Crimea to Russia by popular plebiscite in 2014, is righting a situation whose negative seeds were sown in 1854. It is still much to early to say whether this is a harbinger of the future, or just one battle, such as the one on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

But, history never repeats itself completely, unlike the Ottomans, today's Ukrainian government is held together with a virulent form of Nazism that originated in the Bandera Movement of WWII. It is probably this underlying ideological core that unites not only it, but many of the nationalists of Central and Eastern Europe, and finds resonance in the US and Canada.

This is evidenced by the recent vote of Ukraine, US, and Canada against the United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning "The Glorification of Nazism.” The Harper government's vote is not surprising, given that his political base is Alberta Province which is heavily influenced by Nazi Ukrainians of the "Galicia Division" of the SS. What, perhaps, is troubling, is the US vote against that resolution, made by an Administration of which the President gave a speech at West Point pledging his wholehearted belief in American Exceptionalism ie., its superiority over other nations and people.

Publisher's Review: Blue Heron Woman

BookCoverPreview (1)Publishing is a strange activity imbued with peculiar emotional states. In some ways, it is akin to giving birth—without the physical pain. But it is also like raising a child to maturity and has similar phases of love, fear and periodic loathing. At times, the subject of publication turns from a fragile living entity to “content,” “data,” “stuff” not unlike Gertie-the-cow, or Joey-the-pig, turning into “meat” once slaughtered; the book as extinguished life—now there’s a concept.

This disregards the publisher as marketer, which is a different reality altogether. Characteristic is a comment from a buyer for a bookstore: “No pictures? Too bad pictures sell.” In that momentary, honest and well-wishing response to decades of a writer’s efforts and weeks of publisher’s labors, the book as product, as “meat” devoid of life, is judged by its “flavor.” This point is perhaps the lowest moment of the book’s existence. A paperweight made-up of paper, or pixelated shadows dancing on phosphoric screens—dead meat or moving specter of lives lived.

Fortunately, there is the reader—the writer’s only true friend and the publisher’s savior. Even the most vehement critic of a piece gives back to the writer that which process takes away—life. The book begins to live anew, among strangers, past and future friends, and odd enemies. However a reader ingests this work, it is a path of Mind-to-Mind transmission.
These thoughts have swirled in my brain as Mind rejoices working on Blue Heron Woman. A rare tome that, in pages fewer than the number of years that produced them, is a memoir of rare elegance, strength, and deeply abiding love. Nothing beats the eloquence of this tasting sample:

Writing to Light

We sit in darkness, wanting light.
Sounds here and outside break the silence
and still we write, heads bent, pens moving,
completely focused on our work,
which soon we’ll read to one another.

In two more months it won’t be dark
and we’ll sit again on the grass, in light,
reading one poem and then another,
hearing the words, held by the silence,
not understanding, perhaps, the work
behind the words we find so moving

until later, when our own attempts at moving
someone—ourselves?—an audience?—fade to dark.
Then, pen in hand, we’ll get to work.
hoping to find an inner light
to guide us through the inner silence
that holds us apart from one another,

Until our hearts can speak: another
poem, the words now flowing, moving,
surfacing like divers, breaking the silence
like bubbles rising through the dark
and, iridescent, bursting, lovely in the light
without an outward sign of all the work—

the journey—it took to make them work.
And why these words, this poem, and not another?
Perhaps it has to do with time and light.
Perhaps it has to do with constant moving
from one place to the next, from light to dark.
Perhaps a certain blend of sound and silence.

Noise hurts. I value silence,
especially when I want to work.
The stillness is a friendly dark
that I can work with, not that other
darkness, the one that keeps me moving
frantically, desperately seeking light.

Here in the dark let’s touch one another.
Value the silence, continue to work.
Keep those pens moving, writing to light.

Politics: On the First Anniversary of Euro-Maidan--An Assessment

220px-Рид-красная_РоссияTen Days That Shook the World, one of the memorable memoirs of the Russian Revolution of 1917, was written by John Reed a wealthy Harvard graduate, and resident for a time of Croton-on-Hudson (about 2 miles from where this was written). Reed died in Soviet Russia in 1920 and is one of three Americans buried in the Necropolis by the Moscow Kremlin’s wall. For a long time, his memoir was the most notable first-person account of the events in English.

November 21st, 2014 marked the first anniversary of the demonstrations at the Maidan square in Kiev, Ukraine—the so-called Euro-Maidan. It is not clear yet, if a memoir of the immediacy and power of John Reed’s will come out of these events. One thing is certain; an anti-government demonstration that began over the issue of a delay in approval of an international agreement morphed into events that thoroughly convulsed Ukraine, and has major reverberation around the world. The possibility is real, that November 21st, 2013 will become the day that changed world history for decades to come.

At the first anniversary a few things are clear—two goals of the protesters: signing the EU agreement, and removing the President from office were achieved. Outside of that, however, there were a slew of unintended consequences. Some of these are: physical change to the borders of Ukraine, an ongoing civil war, war crimes—including bombing of civilians, looming bankruptcy of the country, twofold fall of the value of the currency, loss of export market to Russia, significant lowering of GDP, loss of domestic coal production, loss of major part of Ukraine’s industrial base, inflation, lack of heat and food in the country, institution of ideological censorship, the forcible disbanding of the two largest political parties, thousands of political prisoners, and the first inclusion of neo-Nazis in the governance of a contemporary European state. In short, the February 2013 coup destroyed every previous Ukrainian institution of governance, and wrecked its economy.

The desire to completely redo the past, at times, reaches the absurd. The traditional “Father Frost” who brings toys to children at Christmas, has recently been declared a relic of the Soviet past, to be replaced by St. Nicholas to reflect West European practices. One thing was not achieved: the demonstrations that demanded the removal of oligarchs from power, only shuffled the deck, and a new set of the same, familiar, oligarchs became the new despoilers of the country. Last year, under President Yanukovich, looks like halcyon days.

But the affect of the Ukrainian coup does not stop at its borders. As a consequence, Russian-US relations are at their worst in over a generation, and unlikely to get better in the next decade. US actions in Ukraine and response to Russia, split the EU into, at least, three camps—pro-US, anti-Russian, and pragmatists. PM Cameroon, of Great Britain, is following in the footsteps of Tony Blair as America’s lapdog. Poland, Lithuania, and Sweden lead the anti-Russia charge, and the rest are at various levels of pragmatic responses. But, within each European country there are forces of hawks and pragmatists that are battling for influence. Serious changes in political alignments are underway within countries and between them. The appearance of neo-Nazis as part of Ukraine's government begins the process of making Nazism respectable. Cohesion, and the future for EU are under tremendous stress.

The stress in the EU is exacerbated by the ongoing negotiations around the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) which would permanently put Europe in the US sphere of influence. A similar agreement is under development in Asia. Called The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), this agreement includes many Asian countries, but notably excludes China. In short, the current Ukrainian crisis is possible a device to ensure that Russia will be excluded from participating in TAFTA, just as TPP is designed to exclude China. The attempt to isolate the world's largest, and sixth largest, economies from the global economy is dangerous. Also, since a number of European countries have historically close relationships to Russia, attempts to exclude it from an American Europe is fraught with potential problems.

The US chose to show its displeasure to Russia’s response to events in Ukraine by imposing series of ever more restrictive sanctions. Willingly, or through various forms of persuasion, EU and some non-EU countries went along with them. Russia responded with an agricultural embargo. As a consequence, while Russia is experiencing difficulties in its economy so are most of the EU countries. Sanctions and embargo hit the EU agricultural sector particularly hard, and noticeably lowered the GDP. The estimate is, that there are 6,000 German businesses and 300,000 workers who depend on exports to Russia and they are endangered. There is real danger that current and stronger sanctions Ironically, because of import substitutions Russian manufacturing has seen increased demand, and its unemployment rate went down to 4.9 percent. The falling of the value of the ruble as a consequence of sanctions further limited non-sanctioned imports, and hit import car sales particularly hard. GDP growth has slowed below earlier projections, but the country is not in recession.

Whatever the economic impact on Russia and EU, the real suffering is found in Ukraine, particularly in the eastern part. After six months of war, and a much abused truce, East Ukraine is in shambles. Recent decision of the Kiev government to stop all pension and salary payments to people living in the East, and the cut-off of banking services has left the population without means for survival. Kiev calls their actions an "economic blockade." The term "blockade" is recognized internationally a non-weaponized act of war. Currently, people in east Ukraine are wholly dependent on Russian humanitarian convoys and funds sporadically made available by the newly formed states.

A year after commencement of Euro-Maidan Ukraine is in a deep mess and the situation is not anywhere near settlement. The prognosis is grim: needed economic and governmental reforms are in the hands of criminal clans who have been actively despoiling the country for decades, the likelihood of continued civil war is high, with a significant potential that it may spill into a NATO-wide war. The possibility for mass genocide is real, and the desire for ridding the country of its Russo-phone population is not hidden by the extreme factions of the current Ukrainian government. A year later, it is also obvious that the Ukraine that existed between 1991 and 2013 is forever gone. What will replace it is unclear. What impact the forces unleashed by this crisis on the rest of the world will have is also unclear, but they will reverberate for some time to come.

The historical genesis of this crisis will be explored in the next article, entitled “Hawaii, Russia, and Crimea: Why Alaska was Sold to the US.”

DZHOMBA: KALMYK TEA--"Minor" Folkloric Genres


Tea, though liquid is the highest offering.
Paper, though thin helps in spiritual growth.
Let us taste the tea and intoxicating vodka
And, without reproach take leave of the departing year
Let fortune in the coming year be good,
Let the future be better than the past …


Чай, хоть и жидок, но подношением считается верховным.
Бумага, хоть тонка, но помощница в росте духовном.
Давайте отведаем чая и водки пьянящей
И проводим без обид год уходящий,
Пусть в наступающем году счастье будет хорошим,
Пусть же Грядущее будет лучше, чем прошлое…


Цə шиңгн болвчн, идəнə дееҗ,
Цаасн нимгн болвчн, номин көлгн.
Уусн цəəһəсн,
Хар əркəсн амсхгов.
Буур җил һарч,
Ботхн җил ирҗ,
Авсн өмнкнь хөөткəсн сəн болҗ,
Цуһар амулң эдлх болтха!


The ioral, or poetic blessing, is one of the most popular genres of Kalmyk folk poetry. Virtually no event of any significance can occur without an ioral being offered; usually, by the eldest prominent person present at such an occasion. The iorals found in Dzhomba are a small sampling of traditional blessings, that usually are not memorized recitations, but improvisation made of formulaic expressions that permeate the culture.

Tea, though liquid, by covenant, it
Gives honor to gods and ancestors.
Let it, by spreading its aroma
Transform drink to ambrosia

Пусть жидок чай, но по завету – им
Почет Богам и предкам воздадим.
Пусть он, свой аромат распространяя,
В аршан напиток древний превращает!

Ааһта цəəһəн бəрүлҗ,
Ааһин ам зуулһҗ,
Улан зандн цəəһəн
Өдр болһн чанҗ,
Амулң байрта бəəцхəй!

Kalmyk tea is also the subject of proverbs, riddles, and proverbial sayings.



No matter how thin the tea—it’s served first,
No matter how thin a page—it makes a book.

Как ни жидок чай – первое угощение,
Как ни тонка бумага – основа книги.

Цə шиңгн болв чигн хотын дееҗ,
Цаасн нимгн болв чигн көлгн болдг.

Dried leaves and stems on top,
Abundant black, springing from the bottom,
Nourishing white, adding flavor,
Fat yellow, ensuring satisfaction.
(Tea, water, milk, salt, butter)

Сушеные листья и стебли, прибывшие сверху,
Обильное черное, прибывшее снизу,
Питательное белое, придающее цвет,
Любимое белое, придающее вкус,
Жирное желтое, заботящееся об удовольствии.
(Чай, вода, молоко, соль, масло).

Деерəс ирсн дерсн-хурсн,
Дорас ирсн элвг хар,
Өңгинь ясдг өл буурл,
Амтинь ясдг амр цаһан,
Тавинь хəəдг тарһн шар.
(Цə, усн, үсн, давсн, тосн).

Proverbial Sayings:


Weak is a tea without salt.
Weak is a youth without a guide,
Weak a stallion without a bridle
Weak is a rope without a twist.


Слаб чай без соли,
Слаб мальчик без воспитания,
Слаб конь без узды,
Слаба веревка без сучения.


Давсн уга цə сул,
Сурһл уга көвүн сул,
Хазар уга мөрн сул,
Эрчм уга деесн сул.

Калмыцкий чай К. Ольдаева 1973
K. Ol'dayeva, 1973

Oh, Allmeriful!
Let there be much tea and chigan (1)!
And let Green and White Tara protect us everywhere!
Let, in accord with out ioral,
Tables bend
From varied foods,
And that we all
Enjoy a beautiful life
Coursing with purpose!
О, Всемилостивый!
Пусть пиала нам преподнесённого чая
Станет главенствовать над изобилием пищи!
Да процветает всегда тот, кто нас угощает!
Чай же да станет аршаном, который мы ищем!
Люди, что нам оказали почёт, с уважением встретив,
Счастье познают да приобретут долголетье,
И разместятся привольно в подоле Вселенной,
Мудрых Богов я прошу им помочь непременно.

Цə шиңгн болвчн, идəнə дееҗ,
Цаасн нимгн болвчн, номин көлгн.
Идəн-чигəн элвг-делвг болҗ,
Халун хальмг цəəһəн ууҗ,
Хавтха хальмг боорцган идҗ,
Оньдин дөрвн цагт
Амулң-җирһҗ йовтн!

(1) Kalmyk fermented milk drink


Zul, literally the term for a lamp fueled by rendered fat, is the Kalmyk festival of light. It is one of three central seasonal holidays in the Kalmyk calendar. Zul marks the beginning of winter, and is the traditional Kalmyk New Year. According to custom, all beings become one year older each Zul. In a way, one could call it a national birthday. The other two seasonal holidays are: Tsagan Sar, beginning of spring, and Ur Sar, beginning of summer.

Zul is celebrated on December 25th according to the Kalmyk calendar. Because of the differences between the traditional Mongolian/Kalmyk lunisolar calendar and the current dominant solar tropical calendar, Zul has become a movable holiday.

The contemporary calendar divides the year into 365 days and 12 months, each with a variable number of days. Every fourth year (leap year) another day is added. In the Mongolian/Kalmyk calendar there are twelve months in a year with an equal number of days in each month. Such a system creates a “drift” of dates in relation to seasons, consequently every four years a duplicate month is added.

The calculations of the Mongolian calendar begin with a 60-year cycle, which is based on the time of two rotations of Saturn around the sun. In the same time-frame Jupiter rotates around the sun five times. Thusly, the 60-years cycle is broken-up into a sub-cycle of 12 years. Each year has a Kalmyk name: Bars or Bar—tiger, snow leopard; Tuula—hare (rabbit, in common parlance); Lu—dragon; Moga—snake; Morn—horse; Khon—sheep; Mochn—monkey; Taka—chicken; Nokha—dog; Gakha—pig; Khuglgh—mouse; Ukr—cow. Months, within a single year, are also named after these animals. They are: December—tiger, January—hare, February—dragon, March—snake, April—horse, May—sheep, June—monkey, July—chicken, August—dog, September—pig, October—mouse, November—cow. Zul is celebrated on the 25th day of the Tiger/Snow Leopard month.

Each one of the major Kalmyk seasonal holidays is connected to a deity or religious personage. Tsgan Sar is connected to Okon Tengri, the fierce protectress of the Buddhism; Ur Sar is connected Tsgan Aav, the master of the universe; and, Zul is connected to Zonkava (Tsongkhapa-Tib.) the founder of the Gelug tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan Buddhism did not become a dominant religion among Mongols until the 16th century. It is the Gelug tradition that was adopted at that time, and Tsongkhapa (Zonkava-Kalm.) began to be venerated as the founder. This is why; the etiological legend attributing the origin of Kalmyk tea to Zonkava is placed third in the series of legends that are found in Dzhomba, as the most likely to be the most recent one.

(A Legend)

At one time, long ago there lived a wise person named Zonkava, who for many years suffered from a grave illness.
Finally, Zonkava called a well-known doctor. The doctor examined him and said: “A heavenly beverage will help you become cured of your illness.”
“What kind of beverage?”
“It is a tea made with milk and salt, it is strong and aromatic. Drink it for breakfast each day, for seven days.”

Zonkava began to cook and drink this tea, and his health began to improve. He kept improving and improving, and finally the day arrived when the illness left him completely. This happened on the 25th of the first month of winter, according to the lunar calendar. He arose from his bed, went out into the fresh air, and could not get his fill of the beautiful day and his miraculous recovery from a deadly illness.

From that day on, at Zonkava’s command, the Kalmyks celebrate the holiday of Zul each 25th day of the first winter month. On that day all Kalmyks, from the smallest to the biggest, add one year to their age. On that day, in honor of deities, vigil lights (zul) are lighted, and the tea ritual is conducted as an offering. The celestial beverage was called from that time onward, Kalmyk tea or dzhomba(3), and has been regarded as the first dish. Elders, while drinking tea during the Zul festival, speak the following benediction:

Annually celebrating
Zul and Tsagan Sar(4),
Imbibing noble
Zonkava’s nectar,
Taking our proper
Place among
The six kinds of sentient beings(5),
Let us live for one hundred years!
Among the people, from that time onward, the following proverb became popular: Tea, though liquid, is the head of all dishes; paper, though thin, is the servant of science and learning.

1) Zul: 1) New Year’s holiday; 2) votive light
2) Zonkava: Kalmyk spelling of the founder of the gelug tradition of tibetan Buddhism, Tsongkhapa.
3) Dzhomba: Best kind of Kalmyk tea.
4) Tsagan Sar: lit. “White Month,” holiday marking beginning of spring.
5) Six classes, or kinds, of beings: 1) naraka-hell beings; 2) preta-hungry ghosts; 3) tiryak-animals; 4) manusya-humans; 5) asura-evil spirits; 6) deva-divine beings.

Когда-то очень давно жил мудрый человек по имени Зункава, который много лет страдал тяжким недугом. Однажды Зункава обратился к одному известному лекарю. Тот, осмотрев его, сказал:
– Вам поможет излечиться от этой болезни божественный напиток.
– Что же за напиток?
– Это чай с молоком и солью, крепкий и ароматный. Пейте его на голодный желудок в течение семи дней.
Зункава стал варить и пить такой чай, и здоровье его пошло на поправку. Ему становилось все лучше и лучше, и, наконец, настал тот день, когда болезнь окончательно покинула его. Это было 25-го числа первого зимнего месяца по лунному календарю. Зункава поднялся с постели, вышел на свежий воздух и не мог нарадоваться на белый свет, на свое чудесное исцеление от смертельного недуга.
C тех пор, по велению Зункавы, калмыки каждый день 25-го числа первого зимнего месяца отмечают праздник Зул. В этот день все калмыки от мала до велика прибавляют к своему возрасту по одному году. В честь бурханов в этот день возжигают лампадки (зул) и совершают чайный ритуал подношения. Божественный напиток, ниспосланный калмыкам, стал называться с тех пор калмыцким чаем или джомбой и считается первым угощением. Старцы, когда пьют чай в праздник Зул, произносят такое благопожелание:

– Справляя ежегодно
Зул и Цаган Сар,
Вкушая благородный
Зункавы нектар,
Занимая место
Достойное в среде
Шести видов жизни,
Да проживем сто лет!

С того времени в народе популярна поговорка: чай, хоть и жидкий, – глава всех блюд, бумага, хоть и тонкая, – слуга науки и ученья

Ики кезəнə Зуңква гидг нег гүн номта күн олн җилд күнд хуучта бəəсн бəəҗ.
Зуңква, тегəд тер шалтган нег медрлтə күүнд одад үзүлхлəнь тернь: «Тана эн хуучндтн деедсин идəн тусан күргх», – гиҗ келнə.
«Не, тер деедсин идəн гидгтн юн гидг юмб?» – гиҗ Зуңква тер күүнəс сурна. – «Деедсин идəн гисн улан зандн хальмг цə болдм», – гинə.

Тиигəд, Зуңква тер күүнə заасн улан хальмг цəəг кесгтəн зоогла бəəҗ, бийнь сəн болад, шалтгнь эдгəд, зул сарин хөрн тавнд босад, һаза һарад, нарт делкə үзсн болдмн.
Тер өдрəс авн, үкүд шалтгасн тоньлсндан икəр байрлад, эн зул сарин хөрн тавн өдр ик-баһ уга күн болһн неҗəһəд нас зүүтхə гиҗ Зуңква зəрлг болсмн.
Тер учр деерəс, хальмгин көгшдүд зулин цə уухларн иим йөрəл тəвдг болсмн:

Җил, өөн хаһцҗ,
Җил болһн
Зул, Цаһаһан кеҗ,
Зуңкван аршанд күртҗ,
Зурһан зүүл хамг əмтнə хормад багтҗ,
Зу наслцхай!

Тер цагас нааран хальмг олн əмтн заагт иим үлгүр һарсн болдг:

Цə шиңн болвчн
Идəни дееҗ болдг;
Цаасн нимгн болвчн
Номин көлгн болдг.

Dzhomba: Kalmyk Tea--Tea and Salt

Dzhomba: Kalmyk Tea

Narratives about Kalmyk tea begin with legends of origin, or etiological legends, related to the tea itself. The legend presented, is probably among the earliest.


(A legend)
A long time ago there lived two rich men. One lived on the right side of the sun’s rising; the other lived on the left side of the sun’s rising. One had a growing boy; the other was raising a beautiful daughter. Time came for the children’s to wedding discussion to commence. The courtship began soon after that. But suddenly the son became sick, and after a short illness he died. He was buried on the mountain slope near the lake. Afterward, the bride also died; they cremated her body and buried the ashes near her fiancé.
Many years have passed since that time. From a tree that grew on the mountain slope, two branches grew. They were cut off and thrown in different directions, far, far away. From those branches other trees grew. Under one tree salt appeared, and from the leaves of the other they began making Kalmyk Tea.
(Translated from Russian by Nikolai Burlakoff)

Давным-давно жили-были два богача. Один жил с правой стороны восхода солнца, другой жил с левой стороны восхода солнца. У одного рос сын, у другого росла красивая дочь. Настло время им жениться, замуж выходить. Вскоре состоялось сватовство. Но вдруг заболевает сын и после недолгой болезни умирает. Его похоронили на склоне горы, находившейся около озера. После умерла и невеста, ее тело сожгли и пепел захоронили там же, где лежал ее жених.
С тех пор прошло много лет, и на склоне горы выросло дерево, а на нем появились две веточки, их срезали и бросили в разные стороны далеко-далеко. Из веточек выросли деревья. Плод одним деревом появилась соль, из листьев другого – стали варить калмыцкий чай.

Кезəнə бəəҗ. Хальмгуд Китдд бəəдг цаг. Китдин хаанд нег сəəхн шову беглəд авч ирдг болна. Тер шовун дуулхла, шар нарн теңгрт зогсад, соңсдг бəəҗ.
– Эн шовунд алтм терм кеһəд, хунын өрүлгəр девскр кеһəд, хаана замас тетктн, – гиҗ хан түшмүлмүдтəн закв.
Негдгч министран шову хəлəдгт һарһна.
– Шовуг сəəнəр хəлəтн, тегəд эн шовун дуулад, мана чикнə хуҗр хаңһах.
Хаана келсиг цугинь күцəнə.
Өрүн болһн шовуна ду соңсхар хан күлəнə, болв шовун дуулхш.
– Цевр аһарт сул бəəсн шовун өргəд бүтҗəх болна, – гиҗ хан санад, терминь орчлңгд уга сəəхн садт һарһулна, болв шовун тагчг.
Хан шовуг һазаран һарһулна.
– Ода юнь тату болад эн эс дуулҗахмб – болна.
Хан түшмүлмүдиннь цецнəснь дуудна, селвг сурна.
Зəрмснь хоолын гем ирҗ гинə; наадкснь – хотнь зокҗахш бол?на; һурвдгчнь – дуулдго шовун бəəҗ гицхəнə.
– Күүнə киилəд һарһ?сн аһар шовунд эс зокҗах болвза, – гиҗ зу наслсн көгшə бодна.
Бəрəнд орсн залу авч ирəд, келнə: «Манд чик селвг өгəд, чнни келсəр шовун дуулхла, бидн чамд əм хəəрлхвидн».
Долан хонгтан уха туңһаһад: «Алвтан эргəд зуучлтн, тиигхлə дуулвза», – гинə.
Хан һурвн җилдəн шовутаһан зуучлна.
Болв шовун тер кевтəн тагчг. Шовун һурниһəд, нүднəсн сувсн болсн нульмсан алдад сууна.
Нег дəкҗ яду шагшг урһмлта, элстə лааһин амнд күрəд ирнə. Лааһин үмкə үнрт цуглрсн то-томҗ уга бөкүн-батхн күүнə хамр-амар орад, амр өгцхəхш. Хумха сандлын ацт термəн өлгчкəд, харул тəвəд, унтцхадг болна. Өрүн эр?, нарн һарх цагла бийəн ясад суухлань, хаана түшмл хааг серүлнə. Нарн һархла, ормдан сууһад, шовун əрəхнəр эклəд дуулв. Байрин ду эклəд дуулхлань, ү-түмн шовуд нисҗ ирəд, хамдан дуулв.
– Мана шовун эн һазра бəəҗ. Эн төрсн һазрнь, тегəд дуулҗана. Эн алтн термин үүдинь секəд, шовуг тəвтн, – гиҗ тер закв.

(no subject)

Recipes from the forthcoming book, First, You Debone the Chicken: 108 Recipes to Goal to be published in 2016.

Tasty, Healthy, Quick Thanksgiving Meal

(Approximate total time of preparation 1 1/2 -2 hrs.)

Roasted Turkey Breast
All Purpose Stuffing (Recipe #12)
Pan Cooked Brussel Sprouts
French Fried Green Beans
Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Butternut Squash
Green Salad
Cranberry Sauce
Dessert Plate (Apple & Pineapple Tartlets and Sugar Wafers)

Dessert Plate: Apple & Pineapple Tartlets, Sugar Wafers
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Apple Tartlets
(3 points for 2 tartlet)

3 apples (should make 30 tartlets)
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. corn starch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. water
Phyllo (fillo) mini shells (1 point for 2 shells)

Peel & core apples
Pulse apples in food processor (2-3 short pulses)
Combine sugar, cinnamon, and corn starch
Mix flavoring ingredients and water together. Put apples in microwaveable plastic bag. Pour flavored water over apples in bag. Shake till apple slices are pretty evenly coated.
Microwave for 2 minutes.
Cook’s Secret: Make sure the bag has an opening for the steam to escape!
While apples cook in microwave place phyllo tartlet shells in oven to heat through. When apples finish cooking, remove shells from oven. Spoon apples from bag and put in tartlet cups.
Optionally: Put small dollop of unsweetened chestnut puree, or a small bit of aerosol whipped cream on top (0 points).

Coconut Pineapple Tartlet
(3 points for 2 tartlets)

1 can unsweetened crushed pineapple (3 points per can)
1 Tbs. unsweetened shredded coconut (1 point)
Phyllo (fillo) mini shells (1 point for 2 shells)
Open crushed pineapple can, drain liquid.
Spoon pineapple into tartlets
Sprinkle coconut shreds over

Sugar Wafers
(1 point per wafer)

Ingredients: Assorted flavor sugar wafers
Preparation: Open packages of wafers place on dessert plate.
Cook’s Tip: Use Goya, or imported. Goya wafers are sweeter-tasting than European or South American