It was back in 1980 when soldier Bakhretdin Khadimov was last seen by his Soviet comrades in the Afghan War. Wounded and missing in action, Khadimov, then 20 years old, was presumed dead until he was found more than thirty years later, in May 2013, in the Afghan city Herat, by the Committee for International Soldiers, a Moscow-based organization run by Soviet Afghan war veterans. In his 50s, the Uzbek Khadimov is now called Sheikh Abdullah – a widowed healer who lives a nomadic life. What happened to this man is an amazing story about humanity. It is also a story about transformation and transcendence of human destiny and identity in times of war and peace.

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Last year I had a strange encounter that changed the way I feel about America, Americans and ‘foreigners’ like myself.

If you ever visit Plymouth, Massachusetts, you are very likely to also make a day trip to a rather peculiar place called ‘Plimoth Plantations’ – an outdoor museum of ‘historical settlements’. One of them is a reconstruction of the old Plimoth village that was inhabited by British descendants – portrayed by dozens of Americans speaking authentic accents of the 17th century and playing different roles – family father, miller, blacksmith etc. Quite a common way (in the U.S.) of ‘bringing back’ history and of allowing people of today to have a little chat with their ancestors…

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I recently watched an eye-opening documentary about my life as a child in the GDR – the German Democratic Republic. Life could be fun in this little country. GDR kids had all kinds of hobbies and ways to enjoy life, but, as the documentary made clear, there was one essential problem: We had no real freedom in the GDR! No freedom of choice. Eventual collapse was inevitable. Let me explain…

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