Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 30, 2012

Slept badly and consequently I overslept again. When I had barely finished my coffee, I got a phone call from Nadya, my landlady, indicating she needed the reading from some meter inside the flat before being able to pay the corresponding bill. She tried to instruct me on how to find this little window somewhere in the bathroom, but to no avail. She then called Zarina, still on her honeymoon, and had her call me but we still couldn’t find this meter, so Nadya gave up and said her husband would come along in few minutes to find it and take care of a couple more things in the flat.

Samir came and dislodged a tile next to the bathroom sink, and with the aid of his cell phone as a flashlight, read the hidden meter. I then pointed out that the tea kettle’s plug had melted into the wall outlet and he had to remove all of it from the wall, go out to buy a new one and return to replace it. He also took care of shaving the two extension cords I had purchased so they would fit into the wall outlets in both the kitchen and bedroom. While he was there, the cable guy came in and opened a box in the landing and reconnected the service.

I watched CNN for a while only to see that the entire coverage was dedicated to the devastation wreaked by hurricane Sandy. I still don’t understand how that company can neglect to cover the rest of the world when something happens in the United States. They seem to persist in the belief that the United States is the center of the universe. When they started to repeat the same stuff, I just turned it off.

I got to Lingua past noon and found Idina sitting at the computer that has been designated for me since I can’t read the Russian commands on the other ones. She was, once again, sitting next to Mat, the Peace Corps volunteer, and ignored my presence as she normally switches to another computer when she sees me coming. Since I was only going to be there for a couple of hours, I decided to take the high ground and not make a scene and just moved into the teachers’ resource center to use the crappy computers there. I will talk to Zarina tomorrow when she returns to work so she can have a word with Idina about relinquishing that computer when I arrive.

Sophiat, who had been my chaperone at Zarina’s wedding, came in then and we talked for a bit about the event and I reassured her I was putting together a CD with all the photos from the wedding. Zamira, from the Real Knowledge Learning Center, had promised to pick me up at Lingua so I could attend their Halloween celebration as recommended by Natalia at the embassy. She came by a little bit after two and picked me up in her own car.

Zamira is an amazing woman as she started this language school seven years ago, with the help of her husband and father, has two children, is completing a doctorate program online and manages to look gorgeous all the time. She drove like a bat out of hell while talking non-stop on her cell phone. I was a bit worried, but she kept reassuring that she had been driving for more than ten years and knew exactly how to maneuver in the jam-packed streets of Bishkek while talking up the whole time.

We arrived at a ramshackle building that shared its space with a general store ran by Zamira’s brother. The parents and siblings were assembled in a narrow reception area while the performers tried to do their thing and as it has become usual by now, there was a lot of dead time between performers as apparently rehearsal had not been one thing they had taken into account. The one surprise was the performance of a cha-cha dance by a very cute Korean student in a hot pink dress. She could teach me a move or two.

Thankfully, the program only lasted one hour and after more photos were taken; we had a chance to tour the school classrooms, tiny, tiny rooms and the sumptuous office where she and her father take care of all the paperwork. I was dying for a cup of coffee Zamira ordered coffee and pastries to be brought to the office. When it was time for her to take me back home, she asked if I wanted to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and I said yes. Her five year old daughter came along and rode in back seat without a seat belt while getting up quite frequently to look through the window.

The place was called Frunze and had a lot of customers even though it was before five in the afternoon. I asked for eggplant in a spicy sauce and steamed rice, but Zamira thought we needed at least five dishes and ordered lamb, black mushrooms with beef, another type of mushroom salad and vegetable fried rice not mention what apparently is routine here, to have steamed buns with every Chinese meal. The food was brought to our table in just minutes and everything was delicious, even the cold mushroom salad. I ate like a pig, as did Fatima, the daughter, who seemed to have been starving at that point.

Zamira insisted on my taking the leftovers home as she was treating me to dinner. I told her I’d have enough food for a week and I told her next time it’d be my turn to treat her to dinner or lunch. She wanted for me to commit to coming back to her center for the webinar series, but I didn’t make any promises about it. 

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