Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Story of the Weeping Camel

It's always at the edges, the uninhabitable peripheries of the world that we see vaccum sealed recipes for civilisation. Tibet has (well, it used to) a backup for Buddhism. Islam orginated in Saudi Arabia, and it's probably one of its reasons for its prolific success. In the lairs of the Himalayas lies the only Hindu country in the world.

This documentary is a touching family drama cum a nature story, but more than that, it's a story of how evolution makes backups, and how some natives retain their cultures, preserving their way of life against modernity.

Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel, Die, or The Story of a Weeping Camel follows the lives and rituals of a a nomadic Mongol family that the camel belongs to, one, with an extended family of sheep and camel. One of their Bactrian camel has given a painful birth to a colt in the maternal month of march, but is refusing to suckle the youngling. The family calls upon a musician from town, so that he can play the voilin and tug at the camel's heartstrings.

At the background of all this is a Mongol family, who still live like they way Genghis did. At the edges of the Gobi desert, this joint family of four generations feels the influence of modernity through its youngest child, who wants television, video games, and the freedom to shop. In his games with his kid sister he does mock shopping, with discarded aluminum cans and batteries.

But the pride of the grandfather in the family keeps this family clear of such influences, probably because of the ego of empires past. The Mongols enjoyed the greatest success as barbaric invaders. Riding on horseback, they ransacked and destroyed empires all the way upto Baghdad. The Genghis gene can be found in 16 million descendants living today.

A burst of aggression for a people is probably therapeutic. It creates nationalism, language, and a culture that some adamantly stick to, even at the risk of being weakened. More countries and states have had that moment at the top, been the centre of the world. That pride keeps these people away from homogeneity. Which is important, when we start nuking each other.

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