Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October 3, 2012

My neighbors on the fifth floor must have been doing some furniture moving or what not early this morning for they certainly sounded like elephants dancing on the ceiling. I groggily got out of bed, it was only 5:45am, and made coffee trying to remember that up to now, the apartment had been very quiet.

I got to enjoy most of the morning at the flat catching up with the news and emails since I didn’t need to be at Lingua until eleven. The previous tenant in the apartment had left a few grocery items in the cupboards and to my utter delight Zarina confirmed that one of them was a bag of semolina, as the Russians call it, or cream of wheat, my all time favorite hot cereal. I cooked some this morning adding a handful of the dried fruit I had bought yesterday. I have to say the texture is slightly different from the one in the States, but it was quite tasty nonetheless.

I got to Lingua just in time for my meeting with Gulnara to discuss the lengthy list of books she had requested while I was still in the States. I informed her that my allowance for teaching supplies, books and travel-related expenses for the entire fellowship was only $2200.00 and that buying all the books and shipping them overseas would eat a huge chunk of such allowance. She replied that there was no need to order the books now and that perhaps I could set aside at least $500.0 for that endeavor and order them toward the end of my assignment when I’d have a better idea as to the extent of my expenses. She in fact indicated that the school would be willing to foot some of the bills for my expenses to travel in country for additional teacher training. How sweet of them!

I asked if any of the teachers had reply to my request for time slots for observations, but the teachers don’t have individual mailboxes where to receive the memo, so it had just been posted on the bulletin board. Gulnara had never thought of having individual cubbyholes for them, but now considered that a good idea. While I was checking on my email, one of the young teachers did approach me about it and said she’d be signing up later on today.

I bought two meat turnovers from the vendor who comes in daily and had lunch with other teachers who were surprised to hear that I wasn’t a vegetarian for every other ELF posted there had been one. Kyrgyz love to eat meat and I feel they consider it practically an insult to say you don’t eat meat at all.

I had mentioned to Zarina that I needed a desk since working at my computer at the dining room table was becoming painful since it sat way too high for my arms. She recommended looking at a website where people post merchandise for sale, the same place where she had found her wedding dress. Apparently, the site has been modeled after our own Craig’s list so people post their stuff for free including photos of the item. She immediately searched for desks and came up with a simple one that looked pretty new and was selling for the equivalent of $42.00. I gave her the go ahead to call for availability as the person selling it indicated he was willing to deliver the piece of furniture.

The transaction was concluded in five minutes, and the seller promised to deliver the desk by 5:00pm that same afternoon. I didn't have enough local money to pay and needed to go to the bank. Zarina advised me not to do it in the center of town as a demonstration had just started in front of their White House and it could get ugly. She told me to go straight to my apartment and do it later on.

It appeared as if other people were heeding the same advice for I had to wait for a third minibus before I could find one with any room for me. The traffic was snarled all around the Ala-Too Square where the demonstrators could be seen congregating in front of the gates surrounded by a sea of policemen in their dark-gray uniforms.

                                     Demonstrators in Ala-Too Square

I took a nap when I got home and then got a call from Natalia who was trying to verify I was safely at home and who asked me not to go for a walk that evening, something I’d never do anyway. Shortly thereafter, Zarina called to say the desk seller was on his way and that fortunately he spoke English. I informed Zarina I hadn't had a chance to exchange money and would like to pay the guy in dollars if possible. She called him and called back confirming he was happy to take dollars instead of som.

I got my desk and it was a perfect fit between the radiator and the door of the guest bedroom. Now I can spread my books, have a surface to write on and my right arm doesn't hurt form keeping it at an unnatural elevation. I was simply ecstatic.

It was time to do laundry and there was another reason to be happy. Although this washer has a smaller capacity than the one in Dushanbe, it doesn't try to run away as it goes into the wring cycle or convulses to the point of shaking the entire room. I didn't even notice when the cycle came to an end.

                                                  Laundry day

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