Friday, October 5, 2012

October 4, 2012

I got a chance this morning to rearrange my books on the new desk, go through all the pieces of paper I’ve been given so far and try to file them in some sort of logical order. Unfortunately, the desk didn’t come with any drawers and that leaves me with only the surface area to work with. Weather continues to be mild and I hope it holds that way for at least another week so I can get my winter clothes when Ryan flies in. He had indicated he visa was still pending even though Gulnara issued him the letter of invitation needed for his visa more than a week ago.

Got an email from Zarina stating that in celebration of the Teacher’s Day on Saturday, the staff would gather at noon on Friday for refreshments at the office. It’s going to be a tight squeeze as I have function in the morning and an observation in the afternoon. Gulnara provided me yesterday with a really good map where my apartment building is even labeled, so I have no excuses for getting lost anywhere.

I was overdue for a dental cleaning and called the clinic the embassy recommended, but the receptionist spoke no English. Zarina called on my behalf and confirmed that the dentist himself does speak English and we set up an appointment for next Tuesday. That should be quite the adventure.

I accompanied Zarina to make the shopping trip needed to buy refreshments for the gathering on Friday. We started out at the Beta store near my house, where we purchased samsis and other baked good for our lunch, and what was needed for the office. Next stop was the bank, Demir Bank, the only one that is willing to exchanged dollars that contain any kind of marks on the bill. I had to agreed to pay 1% or $1.00 for the exchange and sign two forms after providing my passport and visa paperwork. I told Zarina afterward that the bank spent more money on paperwork than they could possibly make on the exchange.

She then took me to a five-story shopping dedicated exclusively to household good where I could find a lamp and bath mats. We had only visited a couple of stores when Zarina was ordered back to the school as Gulnara needed to leave. We made one more stop for her to buy wine and then headed to the school. I helped bring in the packages and then went on to my house as I had also purchased a flower vase and some groceries at Beta.

According to Zarina there were no repercussions from the demonstration yesterday as government officials simply ignored the crowd of around 500 despite a few fisticups between supporters and opponents of the Kyrgyz president. She didn’t take sides and feel those at the square just wanted to get attention from the press.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a stark contrast between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan when it comes to their relationship to Russia. Kyrgyz still worship anything Russian even ignoring the new names for streets and avenues and clinging to the Russian ones. The majority of them feel they were better off during the Soviet years and are proud to be able to speak Russian. Even the squat, ugly four or five-story apartment complexes, such as mine, were considered a step up for those moving into them.

Very few signs, and only all government buildings, can be seen in the Kyrgyz language which is still only spoken by a minority here in the capital. As such, Kyrgyzstan appears to me as much more forward thinking, even more liberal, than Tajikistan as shown by the fact that its women don’t wear any traditional garb except for the older women at the bazaar and some older men walking around with the traditional hat and beard. I asked Zarina if there’s much intermarriage between those Russian who insisted on staying in the country after the fall of the Soviet Union and the local Kyrgyz and she said no. Instead of an arranged marriage, as in Tajikistan, she’s marrying someone she met online just a few months ago.

I was doing the dishes a little while ago and heard some thumping noises coming from the courtyard and looked down to a guy with an ax chopping down one of the trees that provide shade over the walkway. Later on, he proceeded to chopped down another tree and all the shrubs in front of my building. A woman stood over him the whole time directing the operation. How sad that trees are not valued in this neighborhood as I didn’t see anyone approach the woman to ask about what was going on.

I had the most pleasant surprise of having Ryan call me from Tajikistan to tell he was staying at one of my former students’ house in Khulob for the night. He then proceeded to hand the telephone to Eraj so we could catch up on the latest news. Eraj was in Khulob to help out with his brother’s wedding preparation and relayed the message that the entire family felt sad I’d not be attending the event as I had promised I would if I had stayed there. He hasn’t found a job in Dushanbe and is considering leaving the country, most likely headed for Russia as many other Tajik men do. It’s pretty sad to realize that many professionals have no outlet in their own country.

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