Vladimir Wiedemann was a central figure in the hippie underground in 1970s’ Soviet Estonia. He studied Russian Language and Literature at Tallinn Pedagogical Institute and later went on to study semiotics as well.
There is a lot to be learned from this book. Most of all that, in spite of the Iron Curtain, Estonia along with nearly all of the Soviet Union, went through an intense hippie phase. People just went to Central Asia instead of India and Morocco.
The book offers a sweet and magical insight into Vladimir Wiedemann’s adventures in Central Asia, where he travelled repeatedly beginning in the second half of the 1970s. In these pages the progression moves smoothly along mystical holy sites, Dushanbe markets, hypnotic mountain ranges, Lenin streets with three monuments to Lenin… and inner journeys in a haze of cannabis that may culminate in a meeting with the eternal Buddha himself.
And we also hear of a most curious business plan of the Soviet era – to print Korans on the KGB’s premises in Tallinn and sell them at a huge profit in Central Asia, without getting caught in the process.
On the Trail of the Holy Ibex presents a fascinating, detailed and to some extent intoxicating insight into the everyday life of hippies, practioners of yoga, mystics and fortune-hunters in the Soviet Union of those days. In a way it parallels Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on the other side of the Iron Curtain.