The Lykovs Of The Russian Taiga

I think the first time I read about the Lykovs was in a article titled “6 Isolated Groups Who Had No Idea That Civilization Existed” about a year go while randomly “Stumbling Upon” on a boring day at work.

It was the story of this Russian family of  6 that  had lived away from any form of civilization in the unimaginably cold and harsh Russian taiga in Siberia for wait-for-it 42 FRIGGIN YEARS!!!. I was immediately fascinated and started reading up more about them.

They were a family of “Old Believers“. The Old Believers are a breakaway faction who separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1666 as they were against the reforms introduced by the then Patriarch of the Church, Patriarch Nikon. Since then, they were constant victims of persecution and revocation of civil rights right uptil 1971.

Patriarch Nikon

The Old Believers fled to the remotest parts of Russia to escape persecution and many succumbed to nature’s harshness but some survived and continued to live as small isolated communities.

Karp Lykov lived with his wife Akulina, son Savin and daughter Natalia in the old Believers’ town of Lykova. Karp’s  brother was killed by a Communist patrol in 1936 and that’s when he decided to flee all civilization with his wife and children. They roamed between dwellings until they finally settled in the Abakan river basin. During this time, two more children were born to them, a son named Dmitry and a daughter named Agafia.

In 1978, their rundown hut or izba was spotted by a group of geologists flying over the area in a helicopter. They landed and met with Karp and his family. The Lykovs had fought hardships and were almost always at the verge of famine which had also claimed Akulina as a fatality. There had been a harsh winter in 1961 in which they could hardly procure anything to eat which usually consisted of stuff that they grew on their own and animals that they hunted. The meagre amount of food they were able to accumulate just wasn’t enough. So Akulina starved herself to death so that her husband and children wouldn’t die of hunger.

Their discovery by the geologists turned out to be a boon for the Lykovs at that time. Their plates had holes in them, their clothes were falling apart and their tools were largely unusable because of overuse. Even so, Karp and his family refused to leave their present dwellings. The geologists supplied them with foodstuff, cloth, new tools and helped them build a new izba. The family had lived in such utter isolation that they were unaware that the Second World War had even happened. News spread about this strange family, living in utter isolation of the taiga that didn’t know about the World War and people started visiting them from all over Russia out of fascination.

That brings us to the sad part of the story. The Lykovs had never interacted before with any other humans and had no immunity to the diseases that these people carried. Savina and Natalia died of kidney failure because of the food that they weren’t used to eating and Dmitry died of pneumonia, all in 1981. Karp Lykov passed away in 1988 leaving Agafia Lykov as the sole survivor of the family. The families discovery did end up being a curse for them after all.

Agafia continues to live where she has lived all her life, in the taiga. She’s 70 years old now.

Agafia Lykov’s izba

There was a documentary made on the Lykov’s but it was in Russian so I couldn’t understand it. If you can understand Russian then you can watch the documentary here. Fret not if you don’t becuase fortunately, Vice TV decided to do a 30 min feature on Agafia a week back which you can watch here.

Here‘s the most descriptive article that I read on the Lykovs.

The thing that excites me the most is the possibility that there may be other families out there like this one which may still be living, completely isolated from any human contact, yet to be discovered.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post and were fascinated by the Lykovs’ story as much as I was. Adios.

A Struggle

As dark as a new moon night,
Loneliness is mine.
Engulfing me like thick fog,
Of light there is no sign.

No one can see it,
For it is masked.
But the pain is perpetual,
To make suffer, it is tasked.

Those who know,
They cannot understand.
As much as they may try,
They cannot pretend.

I do not despise you,
You just cannot fathom it.
As much as you may try,
It's too dark and extensive a pit.

There are those who feel,
Even they cannot aid.
Struggling as they are,
How can assistance be bade?

I am only left to wonder,
Ah! Why me?
What did I do,
To deserve this cruelty?

Sometimes I'm too weak,
I feel I may cave in.
I'm so tired now,
But I do want to win.

It can't be that bad,
You may think.
While every passing moment,
Deeper, I do sink.

Time to go,
Too much has been revealed.
It is time to put back on,
The mask that does so skillfully conceal.

Howzzat ? It’s Bad

Cricket, when I hear that word, the first thought that enters my mind (other than anguish) is that of a old, lame Close Up tooth gel ad. Featuring Bipasha Basu(Yet to make her Bollywood debut then) and Ajay Jadeja(Yet to make his match-fixing debut then), they have an exchange of words which I haven’t been able to forget:

Bips: Do you like Cricket?

Jadeja: Cricket? Silly Game

Bips: Ek Ball aur uske piche 11 Khiladi(Translation – One ball and 11 players vying for it)

Jadeja: Aur unke piche 1100 Deewane(And 1100 crazy fans vying for the players)

My thoughts exactly!!!

I would like to clarify that I have nothing against the game or it’s players.I hold no grudge against cricket fans. I am only prejudiced against the notion of the Indian team representing the country. THIS TEAM DOES NOT REPRESENT MY COUNTRY. No matter what justification anyone give’s me, I absolutely reject this notion. It was only about 5-7 years ago that the BCCI itself had submitted a written statement to the Supreme court of India stating that the team does not represent India but the BCCI. The BCCI is a private enterprise. It is not run by the government(Which I think is actually a good thing and the primary reason for the sport’s success in India).
The team comprises of people who have made enough money to perhaps sustain financially, at least two generations of their family even after they die. I don’t have anything against that too. It is none of my business. But, they don’t represent the people of India.
India wins a match against Pakistan and the players are showered with flats and land and money by the government(Both Central and Provincial). I have only one query – What about those soldiers and officers who are fighting the Pakistani army every single day at the front? Cricket fans and News channels are audacious enough to classify every cricket match between India and Pakistan as a WAR!!! Big words, but is that war? The proxy war that has been ongoing in Kashmir for decades, that’s WAR!!!.
If the cricketers can be presented with such Lavish gifts of appreciation at the cost of the Taxpayer’s money and if even a single Indian soldier is left without enough money to live a comfortable life, I am sorry to say but we have failed them and ourselves.

Turn your LCD monitor off on your GNU/Linux OS

I am presently running Fedora 14 (Laughlin) Gnome on my HP 6515b. There are so many times I have to leave my lappie on for the whole night for a download to finish. I wish it to be as dark as possible when I’m sleeping but the ‘Lock Screen’ option in Gnome simply blanks out the screen but doesn’t switch the backlight hence preventing me from falling asleep. Also, we are talking about a lot of power consumption. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to actually switch the screen off completely. Well here’s the solution:

First check if acpi is enabled in your kernel or not by entering the following command in your terminal

[Suyashkmr@suyash ~]$ cat /proc/acpi/info

The result should be something like this:

version:                 20100428

Then simply type:

[Suyashkmr@suyash ~]$ xset dpms force off

and Voilà!!!

UPDATE!!! :-

Apparently there is some problem related to the gnome-power-manger. This command works only if gnome-power-manager has been killed. You need to follow the following sequence of commands to make it work properly.

[Suyashkmr@suyash ~]$ killall gnome-power-manager
[Suyashkmr@suyash ~]$ xset dpms force off

Please keep in mind that I am only putting this up as a temporary work around. I’ll try and find a solution and accordingly an update will be put up.
I have put the commands in the form of this script.

Simply give it execute permission and bind it to a key or a launcher for your convenience.


I wish to take all pain away,
With a sweep of my hand.
Like the sight of an oasis does,
In the midst of endless sand.

I want artificiality to end,
For it is a cause of misery.
How to end it?
It still remains a mystery.

I desire all envy to dissolve,
It has only led to destruction.
Throat’s have been slit,
At its mere instruction.

I dream of burning all melancholy,
It is far too demanding.
It scours the life out of you,
As you watch, haplessly standing.

I aim to kill all malice,
And all arrogance, vanity and scorn.
I will do all this,
So that tomorrow, a better world
Awakens at dawn

Hey Sherlock Holmes, How Social are You?

I was watching the first episode of ‘Sherlock’ recently. I think it’s obvious from the name itself that it’s an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s  ‘Sherlock Holmes’ series. The difference is that the events in this miniseries occur in modern London. Now, whatever you just read is most probably going to elicit a skeptical thought about the series unless you’re a ‘Lockcroft’ as I like to refer to a Holmes fanatic (similar to ‘Fanboy’, ‘Trekkie’ etc.). Let me just say that the skepticism is absolutely justified psychologically but I am also quite confident that it will be dispelled and for good reasons for it’s a good series and though it’s a partial adaptation, the partial originality nullifies the feeling of a dull deja vu in the borrowed portions.

Moving on, what intrigued me about the character ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was  how he is a loner or at least that’s what he tries to show. Here’s what I think – Holmes is an extremely private person but I would not give him the label of a ‘loner’. The character is shown to have no friends. I am convinced that the general coldness that Holmes is greeted with is simply a consequence of pure jealousy. Wait, just stating that ‘I am convinced’ is a gross reduction of magnitude. Instead, I should say that ‘it is obvious’.

Now, Homo sapien is a social animal and I am inclined to divide him into the following 5 categories :

1. Sociopathically Social – People who compulsively need company for anything and everything they do and wherever they go. Even if they simply need to go to the adjoining room, they need someone to accompany them. They just stop short of asking people to accompany them when they go for a shower or when they need to use the loo, and that too with great reluctance and pain.

2. Simply Social – People who like company but it is not a clinical necessity for them. They love the presence of a companion. In a way, they need company but if a person doesn’t have a companion at some moment, he is content with the thought that there are people out there who are willing to accompany him and though he’s alone at the moment, he’s not lonely.

3. Indifferent Recluse – This person doesn’t care if he has company or not. He does enjoy it and when he’s alone, he may sometimes have a yearning for company but it’s very low in intensity and lasts for just about a fraction of a minute before the person gets back to some work. If the person has company, he will enjoy it but only to a certain limit. The limit is usually in terms of time spent. There is a threshold attached. When it is crossed, the person starts getting irritable and  impatient for the ‘jolly company’ to leave.

4. Abandoned Recluse – This person has been shunned upon by society, probably because of the person’s uncommon habits (He stands out unique in the crowd) but more commonly out of pure jealousy. Now this person might have been born into one of the first three categories but society turned him into what he is now. He himself alienates himself from people simply to prove a point to everyone else that he doesn’t care but he may sometimes be caught in vulnerable situations and can even be exploited then.

5. Paranoid Loner – This person has fears and doesn’t trust anyone. He never lets anyone get close to him. The person being caught in a vulnerable situation is rare and quite improbable.

There are some people who fall in between categories 2 and 3, 3 and 4, and 4 and 5. Let us number these as categories 6, 7 and 8 respectively. I would like to clarify that these categories are completely independent of a person’s sex or sexual orientation.

I think, Holmes falls under category 7. He has been shunned by everyone but he doesn’t seem to care but when Dr. Watson arrives, he can’t hide his delight.

In the end, all I will say is that go ahead and watch the series. I am quite sure you’ll like it. ADIOS!!!