Friday, September 2, 2011

Visiting Turkmenistan

I’ve never been in Turkmenistan, and I’m not sure I’ll ever end up visiting there, though I know quite a few Turkmen from the Minsk State Linguistic University. I got to thinking about Turkmenistan today, however, as a result of spending a few hours at San Francisco’s Museum of Asian Art. The museum opened my consciousness in the way that art so often does. I felt a vague buzzing down my spine as I marveled at the beauty of the individual works and the context of many works of Asian art in a cascade of presentations.

I don’t think I even saw anything from Turkmenistan, and from what I know Turkmen traditions differ from the styles featured in today’s exhibits. Nevertheless, being in the museum reminded me of how wide the world really is and how much of the world’s riches I have yet to enjoy. I toured Asia once, long ago, and haven’t given it much thought in recent years. It’s expensive to get there and I’ve been enjoying places I can reach fairly easily and where the cultures are familiar.

Then today, I got re-introduced to Asian art. It speaks of cultures I don’t know, histories I barely know and people I know mainly as immigrants. I want to know it better, and I don’t mind experiencing some inconvenience in order to do so. I’ve always wanted to see Angkor Wat, for example, and now I understand the richness of cultures around this iconic site. I wouldn’t go halfway around the world to see just one thing, but I’m curious to know more about the people, customs, sights, smells and flavors practically filling a hemisphere I’ve barely seen.

Heck, I might even go to Turkmenistan. But I should probably visit Turkey first.

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