An Ode to the Steppe

As a Kazakh, the smell of the steppe is what I associate with home. Its sheer grandiosity and the rolling world that goes by as you watch it unfold, each kilometer a familiar and changing shade.

I believe the steppe isn’t just a huge amount of space with nothing. It is an experience and a state of mind. Something not obvious or clear, or easy to connect to and grasp. A landscape that has acted as a home to many people for centuries, and a space that has witnessed changing history, cultures, languages, and migrations. It’s not a building that shows a visitor that someone has been here and occupied this place. It doesn’t open physical doors with beautiful carpets and chandeliers. It’s not a palace or a hut. It’s an open universe that has existed long before me and will long after. To be born in the steppes and become a part of it has a defining meaning and role in one’s life. It’s not a flat land. Just as “jailau” is not just a green pasture.  It is temperamental, unforgiving, unconquerable. It is also generous and beautiful. It is in the steppes that the horses learn how to run and be free. This is where the nomads have found their home, as part of the grand ecosystem, the world of freedom and wander.

In this blog, I hope to learn more about the other “steppes” and those of my own, see where the steppe takes me at home and abroad, find new horizons. How I can learn about other’s valuable and meaningful places, not just buildings, but also nature. I’m hoping to observe beyond photos – into people’s lives, habits, food, languages, legends and stories. Reflect on and share this enormous journey of life.

Hop along for the next steppe!