"Genghiskhana’s" Adventures in Moscow

8:59 25.03.2010 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs

Moscow is an amazing city. Anything can happen here ... Take for example, an average book store. Here the choice is slightly above the average. All appears uneventful, but, most importantly all is quiet, without any jostling, so what more does the Moscow intelligentsia need? It is not like it was in the past, when you could buy a book, put it under your arm, and go to a nearby cafe with portraits of different writers on the walls, grab a tea or a coffee, or maybe 50 grams or even 100 grams of vodka, and you are good! You could sit and read, write something, or contemplate something sad. Just like some Montparnasse. But no such luck, because a person can come together with another person, but it is rare for goods and property to come together. The passage to the cafe has been bricked up or cemented, however, we are used to it and anything and everything is alright. Even a strong thought comes to mind, "What did you come here for, for the sake of books or for what?”  As they say, it is thanks to a conflict of interest. Very sobering.


Nowhere do I get so tired, as I do in the bookstore. The choice on demand is so exhausting, so you just want to touch everything with your thoughts until you have no energy left.  Do you remember "The Nutcracker"? All is quiet, sleepy, and the toys are lifeless. So it is in the bookstore. And then suddenly ... a big black tome, unusual, mysterious, with a face on the cover, from which blows a cold blast of wisdom, generosity and cruelty, hope and hopelessness. And above that face, like the writing on Belshazzar's wall is inscribed: "Genghiskhana”. And then next even more mysterious words: "Secret History of the Mongols." Legends and tales of Genghis Khan. "The great book of “Yasa" and "Bilik," the maxims and laws of Genghis Khan ". It seemed that the light in the shop dimmed, but this strange face staring at you, was not just staring at you but from the dark depths of the centuries...


Why didn’t bookstores hit upon the idea of trolleys, like in ordinary supermarkets and grocery stores? Just imagine, I put "Genghiskhana" on top of a mountain of other products of the human mind and spirit. So much suffering.  I was almost sweating, and with slippery books of different sizes, went up to the counter. I put "Genghiskhana" down before the incredulous eyes of the young lady cashier, who had just sold postcards with the words: "To my beloved lover from his beloved mistress" and was now looking at me like I was an alien. Next, but not last was a pocket sized book of about 200 pages, which I put in front of her. It was HG Wells, "A short history of the world." But what happened next was something quite unbelievable, and almost plunged me into a mystical awe. The girl warned me, or better to say pompously uttered: "Genghiskhana" has gone up in price. Will you still take it? "My confusion, expressed in a silent pause, was seen as confusion about the price, while at the same time, I was trying unsuccessfully to find an answer to the question:" Why? Why had "Genghiskhana" gone up in price? "But even then, in that moment, I realized that this price increase had some truth about it. There is some justice in that. It is not just about a book, which is no more dependent on me and this saleswoman than the price of gas, the outcome of the Olympic Games and the traffic on the Boulevard Ring, which in a moment I should be joining with an all-consuming of anger, so sharing  all of Moscow’s sense of indignation.


Why has "Genghiskhana" gone up in price! I just wanted to ask the pretty young lady, the saleslady, why in particular "Genghiskhana" had gone up in price, rather than HG Wells and his "A short history of the world", which, for all its small size swallowed up the history of mankind "from the era of coal swamps to the teachings of Jesus Christ." But I just gasped, "Yes. I'll take" Genghiskhana. "


Money likes to be counted, but not by those who are doing the counting. I was standing at the counter waiting for the receipt, revealing at random the "Secret History of the Mongols":

"Suddenly the enemy arrow landed right on Boroghul’s head, and our hero fell down. But, leaning on his bow, he rose and stood there, hiding behind a shield. Looking back at the pursuing enemy the Borchu shouted at him:

"Do you think that you can cut a man down with just one arrow? He would need to be as worn out as the legs on a beaten donkey! "

And then Boroghul jumped on his horse, and hiding behind a shield to his right, fearlessly rushed at the enemy.

Soon the Taychud enemies ran from the field of battle, taking with them the bodies of their kin.

Then Genghis Khan proceeded to the Saydam and inquired of them:

"What are we to do now, when our enemy is crushed and running away?"

And the Borchu said to him in reply:


"To the deceased hero,

we pay homage,

 but we send arrows after the fleeing foe.”

And Genghis Khan blessed the words of Nuker Borchu, and they rushed to the chase ... Like a wolf attacking a flock of sheep, and they killed a hundred enemies. The rest fled away in panic. And in this fight they plundered a hundred battle horses and fifty coats of chain mail.


"Thanks," and the sales lady gave me the bill, in which the cost for the Wells book with his "A short history of the world “disappeared”. I felt sorry, maybe because somehow the idea that HG Wells is closer to us is familiar, "more civilized to us" than all this wild, although harmonious epic of "Genghiskhana." Like a gourmet, saving his favorite piece of non boring food to the last, I saved the brutal romance of the Mongols until later, and then, without even going outside, I opened Wells tiny volume.

“Somewhere in the region of the Mediterranean Sea, wild wheat had been growing, and mankind must have learned how to crush it and grind the grain for food long before he started to plant it. He already knew how to process it before he had learned how to plant it.

It is extremely interesting that all over the world, everywhere where there are crops and harvesting, it is always possible to find traces in the primitive mind of a firmly established connection between the idea of sowing and the idea of blood sacrifice, and, initially the victims were human. The study of the origin of this connection is of a deep interest for the inquisitive mind.”


I went outside and enjoyed breathing in the fresh air.


(To be continued)


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