Here There Is No Earth
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“Sometimes this seems to be a strange and terrible kingdom where the earth engenders not life but death.”  - Vasily Grossman, “An Armenian Sketchbook”
 
In his travels to Soviet Armenia just before his death in the early 1960s, writer Vasily Grossman was a foreigner, yet still within his country's borders. Borders carry a weight for us --beyond them lies the unknown within the context of the familiar. We've created a system where we must abide by borders and crossing one is never meaningless like it is for an animal.
 
In the summer of 2013, an animal wandered across the plateau separating Turkey and Armenia. This border, which Turkey closed in 1993, is patrolled by Russian soldiers at the behest of Armenia.

The intentions of the animal and whether it was a cow or sheep are unknown. Accounts of its ultimate fate vary widely.

What is known, however, is that a 35-year-old shepherd, Mustafa Ülker, went from the Turkish district of Kars to look for his animal across these borderlands and died on this plateau. Whether the animal or the shepherd crossed the Armenian border is unclear and the questions Ülker’s family has about why he was killed remain unanswered. 
Chai Khana
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