Faraway Places


Altai

Originally uploaded by berzin1

Because I have work to do, I’ve become obsessed with the Altai mountain region, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet. I found this great picture of the Altai mountains on Flickr — oh, and this one, of a dam, and this one, of a frozen glacial river in the Mongolian Altai.

This happens to me fairly often when I have work to do — in the morning before the day job, usually, or on the weekends. Procrastination is frustrating, but it is part of the process, isn’t it? That’s what I keep telling myself.

Usually when I’m looking for somewhere far away to obsess over, lately, it’s the Caucasus Mountains, where Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia meet up. I’m not sure if there’s a fourfold theme going on here, since in the Caucasus region there are plenty of people who assert that there are more than four nations — the Abkhaz, Ossetians, Chechens, Dagestani, and Ingush among them.

I think places like the Altai mountains and the Cacasus have the benefit of being conceptually on the opposite side of the world. Once upon a time, that fascination for me was with Indonesia, but then I did the math and the opposite side of the globe from me is actually the middle of the Indian Ocean, thousands of miles from Madagascar or Sri Lanka or wherever; the closest land from the exact opposite of the globe from me is the French Southern Antarctic Lands, fascinating but not a great party spot.

Strangely, these faraway places are related to why, say, I lost virtually all interest in the Mob when the seventy-fifth bit player in the Sopranos released his Italian cookbook. A large number of people paying attention to something irritates me, and makes that thing uninteresting. I crave isolation, in information as much as in the physical world. The obscurity of my information actually brings me pleasure, not because I think I’m “cool” for knowing some obscure bullshit nobody else cares about, but because it allows me some sort of escape from the other people around me. Nowadays with the web, nothing’s obscure, but even on Flickr, I think the Altai Mountains come close.

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One Response to “Faraway Places”

  1. Lori S. Says:

    I’ve always had a fondness myself for the ‘stans: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, etc., partly for similar reasons.

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