Friday, January 26, 2007

Watchdogs of Vinnoye


The role of the dog in Vinnoye and in all of Kazakhstan may still be considered that of a man's best friend, but for primarily different reasons. These dogs arent spoiled with brand named dog food, taken on walks or even given a pat on the head every now and then as they might be in America. They are watch dogs and it is the hate and anger they exhalt, not an unyeilding love that gives them their value. There is an unwritten understanding between dog and owner. It is unwritten because the dogs cannot write but even if they could they would not know how to express themselves. Any emotion has been removed from their minds and souls at a young age. They are trained to hate, one could say they are professional haters. What remains is their end of the bargain, an unrelenting blood red hellbent almost psychotic rage against every moving object, living or non living. They have this uncanny ability to bark nonstop literally for hours at a time. The owner in turn gives the dog enough stale bread and chicken, duck or fish bones to survive, and a small wooden house to lie in when the weather dips below freezing. The dog that reminds everyone that passes by my small house that he has acquired the gift of unemotional, hateful gab, is named Rex. Rex is two years old and all he has ever known is the five square feet of land that his chain allows him to survey everyday. He knows that the only person in this world who he respects is his human mother, Irina Safonivna and maybe also that new tall American, but thats really still up in the air right now. He really respects Irina Safonivna because she gave him a place to stay forever. She was the only one who was there for him. Everyone else is an intruder and a threat who must be barked to death at any cost. Nothing can get in the way of Rex making sure that his hate is heard, loud and clear. If his bark could be translated into English, he would just be saying, "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you" over and over again. Maybe an "I don't like you" or "God, you are pissing me off right now" thrown in there. It's ashame really, because deep down I think Rex is a good guy. If he just was taught that there is such a thing called love in this world I think he would be more than capable of finding happiness within himself. Maybe if Irina Safinovna didnt hit him in the face with a 2 by 4 everytime he barked at an intruder that was actually a friend of hers he wouldn't be so confused. He is only two years old and probably could be salvaged at this point in his young life. But then again, what does he need to be salvaged from? In this chaotic, hateful, dog eat dog world, this is his role, and he's damn good at it.

My next door neighbor's dog is half wolf and equally angry at the world.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Life on Mars

The road from Ust Kamenogorsk to Jenghis Tobey (the train station to Almaty) looks more like the surface of Mars. This rocky mountainous looking hill used to be used as a monastery during the 15th century supposedly. When we were driving by the sun and the moon both shone brightly in the sky. It really felt like another planet, the planet of Kazakhstan.