of beautiful place names and return to primeval roots

we’ve mused here on this blog previously about places with beautiful, lilting names. those place names that for some odd reason that you cannot name just stick to your mind and fill you with a longing to actually go there. say, like timbuktu. tell me, who has not wanted to go to timbuktu at least once in their lifetime? and only part of it is because of its fabled remoteness -the rest is, yes, all about the name baby! tim-buk-tooooo…
on that very note, there is a wealth of beautiful and exotic sounding and vaguely-reminiscent-of-ancient-battles names spread all over central asia. take the name turkestan itself -though it is now divided up between the several CIS states, the historical category turkestan sounds much better and is evocative of, yes, vague historic overtones. and then within turkestan, places to the east like
KHOTAN
or
the TAKLA MAKAN desert
or URUMQI ارومچی
all in the eastern turkestan
and then a bit farther west, in today’s todjikiston! places like the Ferghana valley -Ferghana.. Ferghana. فرغانه
نیمیم ز ترکستان، نیمیم ز فرغانه
half from turkestan, half from ferghana -as that verse from rumi goes,
and then the ancient Sogdiana region within that.
you know, when hafez extravagantly lavished his turkestani-shirazi muse (and only her mole at that!) with both samarkand and bukhara in the verse:
اگر آن ترک شیرازی بدست آرد دل مارا
به خال هندویش بخشم سمرقند و بخارا را
he knew well that an earthly saint like him had no claims over the fabled capitol of his contemporary conqueror, tamerlane. what hafez had in his possession was the city names, and the ability to use them in such an evocative combination. and doing so, he left generations of farsi poetry readers filled with the longing to, yes, visit samarkand and bukhara.

well, on that note, yours truly is leaving early tomorrow morning for an excursion up north. to both turkestan and ferghana, and to sogdiana. i am, of course, as always, taking hafez along for company, and am thrilled at the possibility of finally being able to set foot on, or near, soil that something primeval in me says was where many thousands of years ago another part of me, an ancestor, left for warmer southernly climes beyond the oxus. a turn to the origin, if you may. a sentimental pilgrimage…

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~ by safrang on April 6, 2008.

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