Piotr Karpenko

It is interesting to remark that the psyche of the people inhabiting these regions is totally different from that of Europeans. Among the latter, almost always what is in the thoughts is on the tongue. Among Asiatics this is not the case—the duality of the psyche is highly developed. Any person of these regions, however polite and friendly he may be outwardly, may none the less inwardly hate you and be thinking out all kinds of harm for you.

Many Europeans who have lived among Asiatics for decades without understanding this particularity of theirs, and who judge them according to themselves, always lose a great deal as a result of this and create many misunderstandings which might have been avoided. These people of Asia are full of pride and self-love. Each of them, irrespective of his position, demands from everyone a certain attitude towards himself as a person.

Among them the main thing is kept in the background, and one must lead up to it as if it were just by the way; if not, at the best, they will for instance direct you to the right when your road lies to the left. On the other hand, if you do everything as it should be done, then not only will they give you accurate directions, but will even be eager to help you, if possible themselves, to reach your intended destination.

Therefore, when we approached this man, we did not begin by asking him what we wanted to know. God forbid that we should do so before observing the necessary conventions.

After sitting down beside him, we spoke of the beauty of the scenery and told him that we were there for the first time, asked how the surrounding conditions suited him, and so on. And only much later I remarked as if in passing: ‘We need such and such wood for a certain purpose, but we are not able to find it anywhere around here.’

He replied that he greatly regretted that he did not know where it could be found, as he had only been in the neighbourhood a short time, but that a certain respected old man, who was his teacher, might know. He lived behind the hill in a cave, and had been there a long time and knew the locality very well.

He thereupon got up to go to him, but Dr. Sari-Ogli stopped him and asked whether we could see his respected teacher and ask him ourselves about the wood we needed. He replied: ‘Of course; let us go together. He is a man who is almost a saint and is always ready to help anyone.’