Salman Rushdie about Chernobyl

Dear michael,
Finally, I gave the talk about my MSc thesis today here in the institute, and as you expected, people were much more interested to discuss the implications of the Fukushima accident (which of course also has to do with radio-iodine) than the genetic studies I did last year in Munich. I doubt if people could really estimate what we found out with you doing the genetic studies in mice.
Before presenting the talk to my colleagues, I practised a bit at home and gave the same presentation to my family. My parents were much more interested in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which I used as introduction to explaine the importance of the radio-iodine incorporation studies. I now understand why: When the Chernobyl disaster happened, I was exactly 10 month old, so according to all the studies that I read for my thesis, I was at the most sensitive age when the radioactive cloud reached Sweden. You see how differently people anticipate events: Nowadays everybody is worried about the Fukushima disaster from 3 weeks ago, whereas my parents are obviously still worried if their daughter might have been affected by the Chernobyl fall-out.
My dad, who is always very interested in names and their meaning wanted to know what this “Chernobyl” means. But my mom immediately shouted “Who cares about names, if the only daughter we have might have been irradiated”. Thanks god I could relieve her anxiety by showing the graphs from my thesis about the latency time of thyroid-cancer, and she understoud that the danger is already very low for me cause I”m old enough (“Eh Vay, old enough for what? Who can tell me”). Now, Mom could lean back again and Dad came back to his question about the meaning of “Chernobyl“. I still remembered that you once told me it is the russian and ukrainian word for Artemesia, a shrub used as herb for cooking and in traditional chinese medicine. Since dad is not so specialized in botanics, he looked it up in his precious Encyclopedia Iranica and found something interesting: Artemisia (or Wormwood) is called in turkish Shaybani, and this was also the name of an invader that came in the 16th century from middle asia (Usbekistan, where you got your Polou-recipie from) to Iran. His persian name was شیبک خان ازبک
and he defeated Barbur, the first ruler of the Moguln-empire. Since the persian Shah Ismail began to fear that Shaybani might look for other neighboured countries to conquer, he attacked him
in the battle of Marv. Shaybani was killed in this battle and parts of his body send by Shah Ismail to other leaders of neighboured empires as a warning.
My Dad told us all these stories of wars, victories and defeates with great passion. But Mom and myself as usual questioned the meaning of this for the progress of civilization and for the goal of human happiness. We suspected that in all these heroic stories of the battles between nations and empires, the million tears and lost lives were forgotten. Neither my Dad nor the encyclopedia iranica knew anything about the families of Shaybani, Emir of Buchara, of Barbur, the first Moguln ruler or of Shah Ismail of Persia. During these persistent fights to expand their empires or to defend it against the attacks from enemies, they were virtually rarely at home. Who were looking after their wives and children ? If today a husband and father would be absent from home so frequently, I guess the department for child care or some family judges would fine hime.

Hope you don”t have these problems, and even though you spend much time in the lab and at scientific meetings, your family does not feel neglected.
Hope you are doing fine, Take Care


Ghazal my Dear,

I think I am not as bad as the military leaders of these historical times you describe in your mail. At least I always stay in contact with home, using mobile phone or skype ;-)

The history of the rise and fall of the persian empire in the 16th century, its defeat by the ottoman empire in the west and its link with the rise of the Moguln empire in the east is the background of Salman Rushdie”s novel “The Enchanting Florentine“. If you read it, you will be able to tell your dad the more private side of Shaybani, Barbur and Shah Ismail, because in this novel Rushie introduces a “lost” sister of Barbur. Her name is Qara Köz (or “black eyes”) , and she first becomes wife of Shaybani, than of Shah Ismail and finally of the ottoman general Argul, who is originally italianian and defeats Shah Ismail. The novel uses this magic realismen to show how a young, beautiful woman always changes from one winning horse to the next. But it also shows the price she has to pay for it, that she never really builds a home for herself and never raises children. This at least is the state on page 367, and there are another 108 to come. Maybe I read them tonight, maybe there will be an happy end for her.

In case there wont be a happy end for Qara Köz, do you want me to tell you the rest of the novel ?
Hope you have a nice evening, enjoy the spring, relax and don”t use your brother automatic e-mail-response program to send me an answer.

Take Care, my Dear

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