Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012

The day started out with the sun hiding behind clouds to give way to the showers expected for tomorrow. I tidied up the apartment in preparation for Zarina coming over for breakfast before going to the Osh Bazaar for our shopping expedition.

 I like the fact that from my fourth floor perch I have an encompassing view of the entire courtyard as my complex consists of four buildings set at angles to produce a perfect quadrangle. It is obvious, from what remains of it, that when the Soviets built the complex, it was intended as the place where families would gathered to watch the young play while chitchatting with neighbors. The playground equipment is now rusted, the shrubs overgrown and a thick coat of dust weighs over everything, but the young people can still be seeing smoking and talking into their mobile phones while young mothers watch their toddlers awkwardly take their first steps.

I cooked an omelet with a salami filling and served it with flat bread, coffee and juice. Zarina found the filling too spicy for her taste, but ate the entire omelet nonetheless. She just got engaged a week ago and plans to get married at the end of October and wants to take cooking lessons with me to impress her fiancĂ©. She related that the engagement ceremony consisted of her future in-laws coming to her house to enjoy a lavish meal, for which she and mother cooked all day, at the end of which her fiancĂ©’s family pinned a pair of gold hoops in her ears to symbolize that she now belonged to their family. It was that simple. She now needs to set up appointments to get her wedding gown, make-up, hair and nail done on very short notice. She’ll be moving into her in-laws’ house as expected in her culture at least until they can save enough money to move out on their own.

We walked to the bazaar and were able to get about fifty percent of the items I had placed on my list. The bazaar was very similar to the one in Dushanbe in its set up, but the merchandise being sold was quite different. I was delighted with the blue and gold set of pitcher and glasses we found along with a set of stainless-steel cooking utensils I desperately needed while also adding a cutting board and plastic containers for the refrigerator. We had to stop our shopping short as I had my first conversation class scheduled to begin at 1:00pm.

I had a total of eight students present although some of them straggled in almost a half hour after we officially began. After an introductory game, we proceeded to talk about food for which I gave them a handout to complete so we could discuss it. Most of the dishes the students mentioned as being typical of Kyrgyzstan turned out to be the same ones in Tajikistan or Kazakhstan including the horse meat dish called beshbarmak, which is intended to be eaten with the fingers.

                                Beshbarmak with the head of a sheep added to it.

When the class was over, Zarina and I went downstairs to have a bite to eat. She recommended I order the fried lagman while she had a salad. The noodle dish, while tasty, was way too salty for me and it lacked the usual greens I associate with having lagman. I rode the marshrutka back to my place and spent the rest of the evening putting together several documents to begin my work at Lingua and the Forum organization next week.

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