We all like to receive gifts: the expensive ones and not so expensive ones; brought by friends from faraway countries or made by our children at shop class. However, the donor must try hard to make sure you enjoy the gift as long as possible. Mostly, it refers to those gifts that we receive from life.  

There is a tale about a fisherman who caught a Golden Fish. The fish pleads for its life, promising any wish in return. The fisherman went mad with greed and blurted out: "Make it so that I had everything!" "All right," Fish said.  "Now you HAD everything!"   
It is believed that this tale teaches us to formulate our wishes more carefully. But is that all? I think it also tells us that the most valuable gift is useless if we are not ready to take it.  
“Vain gift, random gift, | Life, why have you been given to me?” wrote Pushkin in moment of melancholy. Scary words, if you think about it. Can there be a more priceless and perfect gift than life? But you have to admit that many of us were tormented by the same question more than once.  
Unfortunately, we are inclined to believe that fate “does not give us” what we deserve. We do not win millions in lottery, pretty girls marry others and children are not happy with their school marks.  There are too many reasons to grieve! And meanwhile we absolutely do not want to notice those gifts that fate presents to us daily and hourly.  
Perhaps it is from such a misunderstanding that we “cast pearls before swine” and "Bury our talents in the ground." Too many people idly go with the flow or, much more offensively, simply destroy the received gifts by drugs and alcohol. By the way, I saw it too many times that those people more likely than others to complain about the evil fate.


We adore the magical world of stage and screen, but how often do we remember that its hidden magic springs work in the same way in the real world?  

I became acquainted with the theatre quite early. Which, of course, was neither the Moscow Art Theatre nor Bolshoi Theatre and nor even Obraztsov Theatre. Yes, there are wonderful theatres that we liked to go to in Elista. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always possible.
Provincial boys had no computer games or the Internet in the seventies of the last century. TV had only two programmes dedicated to successes of the Soviet economy and plans of the communist party. We had to entertain ourselves our way.
Luckily, we had plenty of imagination and courage. Therefore, in addition to ‘Cossacks against robbers’ game and football tournaments between neighbouring courtyards, there appeared ideas exotic enough even for street daredevils. One of those was setting up an amateur theatre. It was to be like the real one - with decorations, costumes and props. Adults, of course, didn’t take our ideas seriously so we had to design performances ourselves. Well, you were lucky if your mother’s beloved headscarf or your grandfather’s pipe were not missed.
There was no end to our imagination on a homemade scene! We enjoyed ourselves as best as we could - up to performing Dance of Little Swans.  Artek had practically a real theatre and, of course, there were no such problems with decorations and costumes as in Elista. But that’s not the point. Another thing is important.


I will try to tell you  what  I think about people over 60 and even over 50. I think this is the best age for self-realization. This is essential feature of my family. My parents are still working. Although I cannot blame those who like to enter their old age sitting on a bench playing dominoes or chess.  

A few years ago, one of the websites published an article about literary creativity, which began with words like, "In 1997, a rising young author appeared in modern Kalmyk literature…" The “young author” turned to be nearly seventy years old. It was my father, Nikolai Dordzhinovich. Exactly at this age, he published his first book, "Ancestors. Facts. Time".
In earlier times, the nomadic Kalmyks lived in a land that was far from a land of milk and honey Therefore, everyone who lived to old age enjoyed the deserved respect. Kalmyks still have sayings like “Respect your elder brother more than the younger one".
And they still practice respect. They will always give way to the elders; give them the best food and the first cup of tea. The younger ones will never enter the conversation of the elders unless they are invited. Old men are first to say traditional dinner toasts – the yorels.
Such reverence has nothing to do with semi-religious blind worship. Kalmyks, probably, at the level of genetic memory have formed an understanding that the advice, words and deeds of their elders come as a result of their life experience. And you can't buy it; you won't get it at the university even if you have three red diplomas.

As a nomadic people’s son, I perceive the road not just as an integral part of life, but as a life itself. Therefore, is not important to me where the road leads.  I will tell you later what exactly is important to me.  
I did not count my trips, but I think that I spend precisely a third of my time travelling. I visited more than a hundred countries a year. I make trips to another country every three days. One day, I will share my life hacks on speedy acclimatization or organization of a mobile office. But today I would like to tell you something different. Perhaps nobody knows when people began to pay particular attention to roads. Possibly it happened soon after the great human migration out of Africa. At least the concepts of “road and path” and values associated with them are very ancient.  
It goes without saying that every road has a goal. And it is very desirable that such goal be worth the effort. It is not without reason that we often repeat Lenin's words: "We are on the right road, comrades." On the contrary, when we disapprove someone we say: “He is on the wrong path."
It is believed that to "drag oneself a long way on a wild goose chase" is very upsetting. That is, the goal may seem very tempting from the starting point, but when you reach it you realize that it was not worth trying. And you must be very lucky to "Go I Know Not Whither and Fetch I Know Not What" (Russian fairy tale, - Ed.) and come back with a trophy.


Through centuries of civilization, mankind has invented many methods of addressing contradictions, beginning with a stone axe and ending with pirouettes of diplomacy. The problem is that for all this time no universal method, which guarantees an equally acceptable result to all, has been found. The same applies to a compromise, which is to be used in the right place at the right time only.  

People knew for a long time that a bad peace is better than a good war. You can’t always fight; sometimes you have to do the housekeeping. And the housekeeping requires if not a joint effort but at least the absence of open quarrels.

However, it is easy to understand but not as easy to do. There's been too much water – and blood – under the bridge, before people learned how to come to a mutual understanding. I believe, it was not easy for the first time to concede to a partner, or worse, an enemy in order to get the same concessions in return. However, we have learned the trick! And since the time of the ancient Romans, who actually gave the world the word "compromissum", this technique took an honourable place in methods of resolving disputes.

Chess, a game that reflects life like no other, also recognize compromise (a draw) as a quite worthy end to the game. There are different situations on the chess board and sometimes it is more reasonable to end a game in agreement with the enemy, earning only one point, than to develop a dangerous strategy and expose oneself to the risk of checkmate.

I do not know about you, dear readers, but I was stunned when I learnt that more than sixty people died from the unusual cold weather in Europe in the early days of spring.

Actually, the end of autumn statistics is probably more depressing. Unfortunately, I could not find the exact data to verify it. It has long become commonplace: the poor, often elderly and sick people, who are not necessarily homeless, die of cold every year by dozens. They are neither climbers caught in a snow storm nor the polar explorers crashed somewhere near the pole a hundred kilometres away from their base. They are ordinary people. In a prosperous Europe.

Our civilization entered the third millennium. We conquered the atom, launch spaceships into the depths of the Universe and consider the exploration of Mars. How did we manage to reconcile ourselves to the fact that the annual dozens, if not hundreds, of lost lives are perceived not as a catastrophe but as dry statistics?

Unfortunately, it did not start yesterday or even a hundred years ago. The folklore of different peoples and the works of various writers, from Charles Perrault to Eugene Schwartz, reflected the motifs of a frozen heart and petrified soul. Dante’s most terrible the ninth circle of hell is clad in ice.

But nobody cares. Scientists and meteorologists shout themselves hoarse whether we shall expect global warming or global cooling. However, they should be more concerned about the frozen, petrified human souls and hearts and think about how to bring them back to their natural state. How to teach people to sympathize with their neighbour again and be merciful and unselfish to any living being.

Not I would be surprised if people who know me from press publications only see me as an eternally unruffled, work-weary workaholic. But I'm ready to reveal a small secret to the Russian Pioneer readers: I'm terribly lazy. My cherished dream is to sleep once 10-12 hours in a row. And there are no words to describe the great temptation to fine-tune the brains of an intractable opponent with an accurate uppercut!

Strictly speaking, when asking a Buddhist what a temptation is, you should be ready for a long and very interesting lecture. And it's not that this is a very complex issue, on the contrary, it's very simple. But the fact of the matter is that it's quite difficult to explain a simple one at times.

Perhaps the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was the first among Europeans to understand the Buddhist meaning of temptation: "Everything is a temptation, and there is nothing but temptation." Something like that. The ultimate goal of any Buddhist is the attainment of Nirvana. To do this, we must realize that the whole world is an illusion and get rid of dukkha. This word is usually translated as "suffering", but it would be more correct to consider it as the whole complex of negative emotions. There is fear and envy and a sense of inferiority. Yes, there are many. Dukkha is generated by Trishna, which is a craving for anything: material values, sensual pleasures, fame, prestige, etc.

So, it turns out that whether you look at a beautiful girl or going to buy a shawarma or plan a career, all these are temptations that distract you from achieving Nirvana. Therefore, Buddhist (and, incidentally, Christian) monks try to retire from the world and its temptations.

Snow is the ally of the Russians. It nourishes and entertains, warms and protects. Treat snow seriously and with respect and it will become your ally in conquering so vast spaces that many people are unable even to conceive their splendour.

In my childhood, sometimes I came across a somewhat sympathetic attitude of my peers from other cities, who learned that I was from Kalmykia. "Ah, we know, we know!" they would say. "Elista, camels, endless heat, scorched desert and New Year celebrations under palm trees." Those experts were right about the first two items only. And even then, you do not often see camels.
Of course, they know perfectly well in Kalmykia what snow is like. One of the brightest memories of my childhood is fresh snow, fluffy and soft creaking musically underfoot. We, Elista boys, loved to run on skis – competing in time and distance, on a bet and just for fun cutting into the ice of Kolonsky pond with skates.
I cannot say whether ecology really worsens or age affects me but snow does not seem to be as soft, white and musical sounding as before. Probably, it is because of my childhood nostalgia for snow that the soul is so responsive to the poem of Alexander Galich "Kadish".

Not a single revolution accomplished under good slogans completely achieved its goals. Society cannot be "driven into happiness with an iron hand". There is only one revolution that can provide a happy future -- a revolution of the soul. And everyone should do it themselves.

On the eve of the century of the Russian revolution, we again begin to wonder what it was? Great social experiment or historical failure? Was it necessary to sacrifice millions of victims for development of the USSR, which eventually degenerated into a totalitarian country under the rule of a decrepit general secretary and fell in a matter of days? Why did no one come out to defend "the world's first state of workers and peasants?"

I believe that the cause of the greatest collapse in modern history is not difficult to find. The fact is that no revolution, starting with the one that began in 17th century England, has provided people with the promised changes. The French, who stormed the Bastille in 1789 under the slogan "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity", acquired misery, external and civil wars. And all they got was revolutionary terror perpetrated by commissioners who were "more equal than others." Incidentally, those very commissioners fell victim to their own revolution.

Today, we see the incredible deterioration in the quality of life in countries that have experienced the so-called colour revolutions. They have already seen three social cataclysms in one of the neighbouring states (and, according to rumours, the fourth one is brewing). Each of them makes the life of a common man increasingly difficult and there are thousands of people dying in the crucible of fratricidal war now.

The first foreign cash I, a freshly baked graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, received in 1989. This was my first salary in the Soviet-Japanese joint venture "LIKO-Raduga". That diversified firm – a daughter company of the famous Mitsubishi – supplied foreign cars to the USSR, opened restaurants in Moscow and organized exhibitions.

I was hired (you will not believe it) literally from the street, when I saw the announcement of the search for a manager. I do not know how many people responded to that announcement but the firm selected only 24 candidates, including me, for passing a rather difficult exam. Among other requirements for candidates the knowledge of the Japanese language was indicated as a desirable, and apparently the fact that I had just graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of MGIMO specializing in Japan played a role: I was accepted.

The conditions were fantastic: the firm immediately provided me with a two-room apartment, company car, salary of five thousand dollars plus a certain amount in roubles, bonuses and interest on sales. My wages were paid in dollars only.

The older generation probably remembers that in those days various specialists, from plumbers in cities to tractor operators on collective farms preferred to receive compensation for their services not with money but bottles of vodka. It was the currency of the common people. Well, the bigger bosses – managers of trade bases and department stores, officials, etc. – preferred solid DMs and dollars.

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