Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 22, 2012

Having gone to bed so late the night before disrupted my sleep cycle as I got up relatively late today. The couch surfers were fast asleep and did not stir when I made my coffee and sat at my computer to read the news and catch up with my emails.

We had agreed that I would wake them up at nine so they could leave the flat at the same time I did since I only have one key for the apartment. They would be heading for the Chinese embassy to start the process to obtain a visa and move on. I headed to Lingua to meet up with Elvira and get some work done on the FORUM newsletter prior to that afternoon’s presentation at KNU.

Elvira was able to secure the camera from Gulnara and we copied the photos to my jump drive. She needed to go back home as her son was running a temperature and her mother was watching him. She first accompanied me to find several stationery items I needed included counters to be able to play speaking board games that afternoon. At my favorite store, the NT Turkish one, we found plastic bean counters in different colors. I also purchased a decent notebook with a spiral binder and a wedding card for Zarina. On the way back to Lingua, I bought a shwarma sandwich and a piece of what looked like a very moist cake. I picked up the laminated games from my cute guy, and they looked fantastic.

For the first time since starting my sessions at KNU, I could not get the #150 marshrutka to stop and with only five minutes to spare, I got no choice but to spring for a taxi with Zarina communicating with the driver to negotiate the price. Of course, he gouged me asking for 150 soms when I had paid 80 just a week prior. I was a bit late getting started and only twelve teachers had shown up. We did have fun though going through several games and activities to demonstrate how to motivate students to speak in the classroom.

My landlady had called once again to indicate she’d be at the flat at 5:00pm to pick up the utility bills, and thus I hurried home to be on time. I was puzzled to notice that my thingy to open the electronic door didn’t work only to realize there was no electricity in my entire apartment complex. I couldn’t even make myself a cup of coffee. I worked on my computer for about an hour or until the battery gave up since it wasn’t fully charged to begin with. It was getting dark by then and no signs of Nadya or the couch surfers. I’d go up to the window periodically so as to let them know of the lack of electricity and it then occurred to me that I didn’t have a flashlight or candles to deal with the darkness if the power outage persisted.

I finally saw them approaching the alleyway and asked them to please buy a couple of candles for me. They came back with the candles, four tomatoes, and a piece of flat bread they had already torn a piece from. Simona indicated they had planned to cook dinner and when I asked him what exactly they had planned on cooking, he stated rice and tomatoes, my rice I take it, accompanied by the flat bread. I couldn’t help but snort under my breath.

We sat around for a while discussing the fact that they might need a letter of invitation from someone in China in order to obtain a visa to travel there. They informed me the Chinese embassy was no longer in my neighborhood but had moved very close to the U.S. one.  I was getting desperately hungry by then and  suggested we go to the street near my house where there are several restaurants and shops to get something to eat as I had no idea how much longer we might be without power, and they had confirmed there was power across the street.

Michele and Simona found things to buy at the take-out section of the supermarket, but I was hunkering for something hot and we stopped at a nearby restaurant where the cook, standing outside with nothing to do I guess, reassured us that soup to go could be bought. While waiting by the cash register for the soup, a male customer stood there ready to light up a cigarette. I mimed to him I was allergic to smoke and could he please take his cigarette outside? I was lucky the guy had a sense of humor for he repeated my gestures several times and looked at my companions as saying: “Is she really serious about wanting me to go outside to smoke?” and then laughed hysterically. He ended up inviting us upstairs to his flat to drink some vodka, but we turned him down.

Power had returned to the flat by the time we got back and the guys sat down to eat their purchases while I open my soup and just sighed. My soup consisted of a colorless broth with small cubes of potato and two small chunks of lamb meat. Needless to say, there was no flavor whatsoever except for the dill floating on top of it. In a stroke of brilliance, I remembered that Elvira had brought me a container the day before with what she called a cold salad consisting of cow foot broth, gelatin and other condiments. I added that to my soup, more potatoes, carrots, chicken bouillon and even some of my cabbage salad and finally had something worth biting into. I offered the guys a bit and only Michele agreed to have some.

After perusing the Internet for a bit, I went to bed since having a conversation with these two guys was almost impossible both because their English is too limited and because they seem to have little to say. 

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