Saturday 18 July 2015
Basan is a young Kalmyk in Elista, a geologist, specialising in hydrology – right up Ian’s alley. He joins us for the evening, disappointed that we decide to stay in our ‘apartment’ and cook for ourselves (he may not have been the only one) and not enjoy Kalmyk cuisine. He compensates by bringing in some take-away and excellent vodka. An interesting evening, talking politics and international relations, as we present our western corporate media view of the situation in Ukraine. He takes no offence (perhaps pitying us a little), remaining polite, good humoured and genuinely curious about Australia. We swap details and he will see us in Aus sometime soon. He has already done Africa and Kilimanjaro.
Before we leave next morning he proudly shows us around the Gold Temple of the Buddha Shakyamuni, including witnessing a service complete with chanting monks. Mike buys a CD and contemplates his mantra on the road to Volgograd.