Posts tagged Tatar

“Now we shall be able to talk” from Rawicz’s book

I have written this before, I’ll write it again in today’s blog: I LOVE old books.  However, I don’t count Slavomir Rawicz’s book necessarily that OLD at 55 years.  It recounts what had happened back in the early 1940s. But just the same, I came away learning more about Circassians.  I had not heard of Circassians before from my Kazakh students, yet I am well aware of Tatars, Chechens and other smaller people groups.

But first let me relate the dialogue in this 1956 book that piqued my interest in Circassians. If you have read my past several blogs, the group of escapees from a Siberian camp had entered Tibet and were on their way to Lhasa, or so they told people along their 4,000 mile trek:

“Welcome,” he said in Russian. “Now we shall be able to talk.”

We were rather taken aback.  He spoke Russian easily and without hesitation.  I had to remind myself that there could be no danger so far south of the Soviet in a chance encounter with a Russian.

He waited for me to reply and when I did not he went on eagerly, “I am a Circassian and it is a long time since I met anyone who could speak Russian.”

“A Circassian?” I repeated. “That is most interesting.” I could not think of anything less banal to say.

His questions tumbled over themselves. “Are you pilgrims? It is not many Russians who are Buddhists. You came through the Gobi [desert] on foot?”

From what I have gathered off the Internet with a cursory glance is that there are not many Circassians who are Russian Orthodox but this man in the Rawicz’s story was. Living in Tibet, he looked by his clothes more Mongolian yet spoke Russian. He was very proud of being Circassian as many independent Muslims are today.  I learned there are 500,000 Circassians in southern Russia and several million diaspora.

What’s interesting is this article I came across about Georgia [the country] which proclaimed the genocide against the Circassians. Read the following link. Also know that in a military campaign that was carried out in 1860-64, the Russian imperial historians recorded the deaths of these Circassians who lived in the Caucasus mountains.  Proclaiming that this was a genocide 150 years later but then Armenia will have its chance to ask for reparation from Turkey about the genocide that happened almost 100 years ago against the Armenian people.

Who can talk about these atrocities when there is division of languages, memories have faded and history books have been revised away from the truth?   “Now we shall be able to talk” will only happen in a perfect world where truth tries to mend the fractures within cultures.  It won’t be happening any time soon in Kazakhstan where many people from other nationalities were deported and dumped in Kazakhstan.  Ah…so much sadness…


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Kazakh Students’ Random Stories of Yesteryear

I am not quite finished with my survey about “Education in a Modernizing Society.” For now I’ll turn to some conversations Ken and I had with Kazakh students this past weekend.  Invariably, I ask young people about their grandparents and great grandparents, it seemed this group was not shy to tell us what they knew.

One girl when challenged was able to name her ancestors seven back.  She did so using her fingers to help remember where she was.  She was applauded by her fellow English learners.  Another fellow who seemed shy finally did talk about his grandparents but sad are those whose grandparents were orphaned during the Great Patriotic War.  In this one case the grandfather’s name of his father was found out but that is rare.

Another girl told of her grandparents being rich and able to go to Mecca but then when the collectivization started the grandfather buried all his treasure.   Her relatives talk about how they sure could use the treasure now and speculate where it could be hidden. That led us down a discussion of getting into business of selling metal detectors and finding the spoils.  The saying “Finders Keepers; Losers Weepers” came up and that had to be explained.

One girl said she didn’t have any grandparents but she still had a 94 year old grand, grandfather.  I thought and said “Wow, what a treasure.”  She didn’t seem so happy about it because he lives in her home and constantly wants to do “remont” in their home.  The only trouble is that he is nearly blind so we joked that if he were using a hammer and nails he might bang his fingers by trying to do reconstruction.  She actually took my admonition seriously about sitting down with her great grandpa to ask him questions about the past.  Maybe he wouldn’t be so eager to re-do their home if he had some attention paid to him.

Another girl talked about her grandparents who had many children in the village and about how the grandfather repaired radios and other electronic things but never charged anyone anything.  Her grandmother was a good seamstress. Yet another girl related that her grandfather had been in prison for 50 years, he was released at age 75 and had many more children after that.  He got his name cleared of whatever he was guilty of.  He had a wife before he was in prison and one afterwards, as I understood it.  Seems the visits by the wife meant that she would go home pregnant.  I think there were 14 in that family.

Several students that talked about their grandmothers getting “Hero Mother” awards for having 10 children.  In some cases the children may have died in infancy but it was encouraged back in the old days to have big families.

One guy named Ruslan said that his grandfather was working in the mines near Karaganda and he LOVED to play cards. One day he lost his horse in a game and had to walk home. He later told me about a Russian documentary titled “Wait for Me” but for the life of me, I can’t remember what that is about.  I think about the reuniting of families.  Oy, that is why it is important to write things down right away.

Finally, one girl who was part Tatar and Kazakh told of how her Tatar ancestors were from the Crimea region but were forcibly moved out by Stalin and some went on their own to Iran and then ended up in Uzbekistan.  She said she had visited Ukraine to see where her roots had come from.  She did say that her grandfather also fought in WWII and that he hated the Germans, he died in Berlin.

So, there was an interesting mix of students that gathered at American Corner this past weekend.  We will start up the films again and it was agreed that we would have tea and snacks before that and discussion of the film afterwards.  Meeting these Kazakh students is one of the perks of living in Kazakhstan.

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Ruslan’s Grandmother was his idol of a mother

At first, I want to say that, unfortunately, I don’t know at least seven ancestors of mine, as Kazakhs have to. But actually, I’m not a native Kazakh, I’m half-Tatar and half-Korean, so I guess the history of my family and the history of how my family appeared in Kazakhstan, in Almaty actually is very interesting.


In my essay, I decided to write about my grandmother, mother of my mum. Unfortunately, she is not with us now. She has gone to a better world. She and her six brothers and sisters were born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Then in late 1940s or 1950s they moved to Almaty. So since that time almost all of them are living here. She was working in “Almatyglavsnab” in the Soviet times as a head accountant for a long time (I guess that‘s why I‘m good at math). 

But when the USSR collapsed, she lost her job. But at this time I was born, and she gave all her forces to my upbringing. She was like my second mother. I shared all my secrets with her. I spent all my childhood with her, because my mother and father were at their work. She had only one child, my mother. My mom says that she has a sister, but no one knows where she is now, because my granny and grandfather divorced (my mom was only 1 or 2 years old) she had gone away with him. I don’t even know her name. I wish one time I would meet her.

In conclusion, I want to explain why I decided to choose my granny. She was a very close friend of mine, she is one of the most important parts of my whole life. Also she was a very good woman herself, I consider her as an idol of a mother or a grandmother. I think that I could write my essay much more longer, but I don’t have words, only emotions. When I was writing this essay I remembered all the moments I had spent with her. Now I really miss my granny.

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Khadicha’s Grandma’s “Story of One Life”

This story will be about my grandmother. When I started to write I didn’t know what title this story should have because most of our grandparents have there own exiting stories.  They are all very old, most of them were born before World War Two (WWII) like my grandmother and of course it changed all their lives.  They saw death of their close relatives and friend of their families.  WWII made a great influence on many people.

My granny’s way to Almaty was very long.  My grandmother was born very far from Almaty in Vladivostok in 1931. In her family were 4 daughters and 2 sons. She was fourth. When WWII started she was only 10 years old but she worked the field to help her parents. Her older brother went to the Front in 1943 before he reached 17. My great-grandfather fought against the Japanese.

In 1945 my grandmother’s family moved to Republic of Bashkiriya. They were Tatar. My great-grandmother said “If we have to die we will do it in our Motherland”. Time after war was full of hunger, poverty and unemployment. People were tired of war. The family was very big and they needed to find more food to feed all the family members. Grand-ma and her sisters and brothers couldn’t find a job. Her father did all the work that he could and worked very hard. He was the bread-winner, because of it he must be strong. Also my great-grandfather grazed cows. Once while on the pasture, he heard that in Almaty life is easier and people are very friendly. After that, he decided to move to Almaty so they sold all they had and went to Almaty.

They arrived to Almaty on April 6, 1947 and had no place where to go and live. They spent 15 days on the square near railway in the open air. Great-grandfather met a Tatar family who helped him get a job and found where to live. Grandmother got a job in a sewing-factory. Some times later her family got an apartment from the government. Life started to come right. Grandmother met her husband in 1951 in the House of Culture of Dance. They get married in 1953. For a long time she couldn’t become pregnant. My father’s oldest child was born 5 years later in 1958. But it wasn’t my grandmother’s last ordeal. Also she had 2 daughters. One of her daughters became drug addicted and her husband was killed 17 years ago.

Every time she says to us that life is very difficult thing but even though, she never complains. Three month ago she was in hospital. She didn’t want to go there but she understood that it will be better for her health. When we went to hospital there was no free places. Nurse said to her, “a few hours you will lie in hall, before we find a place for you”. She said “it won’t be difficult and uncomfortable for me, I will wait”. When we visited her, she never was in a bad mood. She is really strong person.

Some time ago she again surprised me. I thought that she to old to understand my problems.  But she noticed that I was upset and gave me really good advice. I didn’t know anything about her life before I asked her to tell me something. Now I understand that her experience is very big, strong, powerful and enough to grow up her 6 grandchildren.

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Hardships of Balnura’s Grandparents

Now I am going to write about the stories, which my lovely grandparents told me. Since my early childhood I spend all my summer holidays at my grandparents’ home. When I was a child I very liked, when my grandmother told me different fairy-tales, especially  Kolobok (Circle Side)”,  Krasnaya shapochka”, (Little Red Riding Hood) “Kurochka ryaba” (Speckled Hen) and other interesting fairy-tales every night, sometimes she told me some stories from her life and her parents’ lives.

My Grandmother is Tatar by nationality, but she had never been in Kazan. Because her parents were forced to transfer to Kazakhstan. At that time, in 1928, the government began to take away money, property etc. from rich people who came to Kazakhstan. And my grandmother was born in 1934 in this country. In that period of time, as we know from history was famine. A lot of people died, it was a very hard time. It is a miracle that some could survive.

Also my grandfather had a hard childhood. All his sisters and brothers, including parents died during the famine, because of shortage of food. They had nothing to eat. As my grandmother told me, people even ate their own children. At that time they had neighbors, who had a 6 years old child, who had played in the street everyday, one day, he disappeared. And when my grandmother’s parents went to their neighbors’ house they saw how the leg of that boy was boiling. As we see, people who are too hungry don’t see if it is their child and they become like a beast or wild animal.

When my grandfather stayed alone, his one far relative took him for upbringing. Even though he was an uncle of him, he forced him to do all the heavy work. He grazed sheep, and did all such works. His uncle was very rich, but even though he didn’t let him to study or to live as a normal child. His attitude to him was like to slave. But his children which were at the same age, didn’t do anything.

My grandfather was really hard working and he strived for knowledge. He learnt to read and write by himself at night, while everybody else was sleeping. Because, if his uncle had known about it, he would have beaten him and treated him worse. He hadn’t any clothes to wear and no foot-wear. In winter he fastened on material and went out. One day he ran away from his uncle. Then he was sent into children’s home where he grew up. After that, he went into the army, then he entered militia school and met my grandmother. Since that time they lived together.

Everything he achieved was with his own work and hands, then he became chief of militia. I am very proud of him. Even it was too hard and difficult, they could resist. I love my grandparents very much. Thank God, now they are alive and healthy. I hope they will live with us for a very, very long time, and every time will give us their useful advice.

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Dilyara’s Kazakh and Tatar Ancestors

They were born in hard revolutionary time when a stubborn struggle for authority occurred in the country. The Soviet authority established the regime revoking the rich people of their privileges and providing the poor people with great opportunities which had been unknown for them earlier. And if you have both sorts of the people in your family, it is not easy to examine the historical events which occurred almost one century ago.

The parents of my father were from the south of Kazakhstan in the neighborhood of Taldy-Kurgan town. It has very picturesque surroundings. The grandmother was the daughter of very rich and noble birth man. But falling in love she ran away with the poor man. In Kazakhstan, bride theft was the widespread phenomenon.

So the Soviet family of my grandfather and grandmother was formed. Then two sons were born. Two children were rather slight for those times. Their younger son became my father in future. Probably if the war had not happened, the number of children would be more.

At the beginning of World War II the grandfather was recruited to serve in the army on front of the war. There he, after stubborn and bloody battles, was taken prisoner. He was lucky to survive and to return home from the war, but his health was strongly undermined. And he died a little later after returning from front. The grandmother becoming widow brought up the two sons due with support of family of the brother of her husband.

Recalling the parents of my mother, in fact, I know nothing about the grandfather who also has died on the Finnish war. He gave up the memory about himself as my dear mammy. A remarkable gift of fortune!  Thus, I can tell more detailed about the mother of my mother, another about my dear grandmother. My grandmother was the remarkable woman who wholly has created herself: from the simple poor orphan she was up to the very respectable and highly educated woman of those times.

She made significant contributions in development and teaching of many generations of Kazakh people being in the rank of the director of school. She was very purposeful and skilful to distinguish main from minor. So many life principles were inculcated in me by her since childhood years. Even the teacher profession is transferred to us from her like a baton in a relay race.

My grandmother was born in the Tatar family of the shoemaker in the north of Kazakhstan in Kustanai city. The family was poor and had 13 children, though at the year of the birth of my grandmother the family had moved to the new house, therefore it was considered that Jamal (it is name my grandmother, she was the penultimate child) had brought happiness in the family.

However, the next years, as it is known from our history, in Kazakhstan the terrible famine began. It was caused by either barbarous policy of the Soviet authority on liquidation of cattle from the population and natural cataclysm, it is named jute: drought and loss of cattle. In those awful famine years population of Kazakhstan lost about 42 %, about 3 million people died.  The parents of my grandmother could not survive these terrible suffering tests. They died.

By that time older children became already independent, and younger children, including my grandmother, were sent in relative families basically as servants. But for my grandmother certainly it was unacceptable to remain all her life in such role.

The Soviet authority enabled working young people to receive education free-of-charge. My grandmother being a single, young girl had overcome all difficulties of hungry student’s life. At first, she had received secondary education under the intensive program, and then the higher education in Alma-Ata. It is enough to say, that, in those hungry years, practically 90 % of the students through the study were in search of earnings and more fat of life.   They were units among most persistent and purposeful, especially of women, who finished the institutes.

After graduating from high school, my grandmother devoted all her life to the business of enlightenment and education of her people. She has given birth and brought up two daughters, including my mother.

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