short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Assume That Your Problem Will Be Resolved

Often problems become greater, rather than disappear, because subconsciously we anticipate trouble. By remaining calm and focused on the task, not on the complications surrounding the task, we can often resolve the problem rather than simply coping with it. Imagining the problem as already resolved will in many cases lead to its resolution.

Several years ago I flew from Novosibirsk (Siberia) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) on Siberian Airlines. Yes, there really is a Siberian Airlines!

When I arrived, the Uzbek border guard paged through my passport several times, looking at me occasionally. I knew instantly what was going on in his head. First, I had no visa for Uzbekistan. Second, since the aircraft was Russian and the flight was coming in from Siberia, only Russian- and Uzbek-speaking border guards were manning the posts. No one expected an American to be flying that particular route. So, what the guard likely was thinking was, "What? No visa! And how on earth am I going to talk about this with her?"

He tentatively asked, "Vy sluchaino ne govorite po-russki?" (Do you, by chance, speak Russian?)

I conceded, "Da, sluchaino, govoryu." (Yes, I, by chance, do.)

He smiled and said, "Chudesno; mozhno obshchats'ya." (Wonderful; we can communicate.)

Then he went on to explain that he could not find my Uzbek visa. I assured him that he was, indeed, correct in his ascertainment that there was no Uzbek visa in my passport. I then went on to explain that I had heard that it was possible to use a Russian visa, which I had, for up to 72 hours during which time one could obtain an Uzbek visa in-country. He told me that this possibility did not exist. Only if one were to stay less than 72 hours could one use the Russian visa.

Well, this was certainly a dilemma. However, I assumed that the problem would be resolved, that I would not spend the rest of my life beside the border guard station in Tashkent. So, I said to the guard, "Nu, kazhetsya, chto u nas problema. Kak my reshim ee?" (Well, we seem to have a problem. What are we going to do about it?)

He laughed and said that we could not do anything at all about it but he could once the whole planeload of people had passed through. True to his word, he got me a an uncommon multi-entry yearlong visa and obviously felt very pleased with himself. When I asked what I owed, he said, "Nothing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will collect the fee from your sponsoring organization."

While in Uzbekistan, I provided consultation that pleased the Ministry of Education, which asked me to return in 6-9 months for extensive consultation. When I asked for an extension of my visa from the Uzbekistan Embassy in the USA, I received it very quickly, possibly because of having been granted that uncommon type of visa (multi-entry, year-long) in Tashkent, and was surprised to find that my new visa was for five years, a rarity.

The next time I came to Tashkent, then, was quite a different experience although not initially. The border guard looked at my passport and the visa, which he easily found, then at me and then back at the visa. Apparently, the five-year visa is indeed quite rare. "Est' problema?" (Is there a problem?), I asked him.

He smiled broadly. "O, net," he responded warmly. "Vy nasha." (A rough translation: Not at all, you are ours, i.e. one of us.)

It is so inconceivable to me that today that wonderful country is closed to Americans. I will always remember the feeling of being "nasha."


Excerpted and adapted from a story I published in a collection of vignettes, copyright 2003.


  1. I have such limited experience at traveling. What a wonderful memory. And yes, it sounds like Uzbekistan would be an interesting place to travel to.

  2. Fantastic. Your being straightforward and presence of mind did it.

  3. Elizabeth:
    A very interesting story. Happy New Year.


About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.