Tuesday, December 07, 2004

On Friday (Dec. 3), I spoke very briefly with a group of middle-aged Crimean Tatar men standing at Maidan - I spotted them by their flags.

They're taking turns coming to Kyiv, and there're always from 200 to 300 of them here. As I wrote earlier, Mustafa Jemilev, their leader, had been here, as well as his wife, Safinar Jemileva. The visits of the common folk are being paid for by the Crimean Tatar businessmen.

All of them returned from Central Asia relatively early, in the late 1980s; one was a member of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis: he talked about their close ties with the Ukrainian People's Movement and the Ukrainian People's Party (and hence with Yushchenko's Our Ukraine bloc), and then he invited my colleague and me for plov at the People's Party office (plov is rice with lamb cooked on open fire in a large cast iron bowl - here's a recipe: a useless thing, in my opinion, because the real plov comes with the right people and the atmosphere, not just with the right ingredients and procedure).

"Here," he said, pointing at the man with their flag. "Here, this is our cook. We've brought him with us."

My colleague and I couldn't accept the invitation, unfortunately.

I thanked them in Crimean Tatar (the word, [saghol], is also one of the Turkish 'thank you' words) and then recited part of Tarkan's song, Dudu, that I know by heart in Turkish - most of it, except for most of the translation. Crimean Tatars understand Turkish, so they supplied me with the meaning of one word from the song: true love [ashk]. (I did know that one, of course.)

While we stood there talking, a Ukrainian man came up and asked if these were the Crimean Tatar flags. Then he told the Crimean Tatars that he admired their people and supported their plight.

Later that afternoon, I ran into Al-Jazeera's Akram Khuzam again, and this time I found courage to approach him and ask if they were doing anything on where the Crimean Tatars stood in this election. No, he said, but back in 1997, he did a documentary about Crimean Tatars, which won some kind of a golden award (I didn't catch what it was exactly because at that moment everyone was anxiously awaiting the Supreme Court's decision - and I was getting more and more nervous to think clearly)...


  1. Speaking of al-Jazeera, today their site ran a Tymoshenko profile with a striking archive photo. I guess this is from the days when they tried to put her away.

    Incidentally, since you've studied Arabic, you might be curious to know the Arabic name for "orange revolution":

    ?????? ??????????
    ath-thawrat al-burtuqaliya

    Which in some forms of Arabic sounds exactly like the word for Portuguese, Burtughali(ya). Evidently, when oranges were first imported from China, Romance people named it after naranj, a similar fruit from the middle east (or pomme-orange, as the French would have it.) The Germans inquired where it came from and classified it as Apfelsin, the sino-apple. Lingua franca must have had its limitations, because middle-easterners simply noted the nationality of the traders.

    Isn't that nice? You get to make a Portuguese revolution without inconveniencing the Portuguese.

    Another Misha

  2. I guess Blogger didn't like the encoding on al-Jazeera's site. It's the last two words in the first paragraph of the Tymoshenko profile.

    Another Misha