I WAS BORN IN UKRAINE and went to school there. But I spent twenty years of my life in the Kyzylkum Desert of Uzbekistan—from 1968 to 1988. I was working as a geophysicist at geological expeditions and geological sites for the exploration and excavation of uranium and gold.
The Kyzylkum Desert is the fifteenth-largest desert in the world. It is located in Central Asia, in the interflow of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, a region historically known as Sogdiana. The desert is divided among Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and partly Turkmenistan. The name “Kyzylkum” can be translated from Turkic as “Red Sands.” Turkic languages are a group of languages of the same origin, spoken in a vast area extending from Ponto-Caspian steppes, Balkans and West Asia to Central Asia. Kyzylkum is a sandy desert with ridges of dunes, many of which are covered with vegetation. Sands formed by weathering and fluttering of bedrock sandy deposits have a reddish color there. The desert surface has a gentle general slope from the southeast to the northwest, towards the coast of the Aral Sea. The desert has always been a place on Earth that people have experienced in awe. They say that the desert is a living creature that can either accept a wanderer who has invaded its territory, or not accept that person at all. It depends entirely on the nature and mood of both sides.
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