Friday, November 16, 2012
November 16, 2012
My head was so congested that no amount of coffee or Advil could help dislodge the phlegm and I could feel my voice being just a croak when Anna called early in the morning to ask me to bring my laptop for today’s presentation as the teacher who had been lending hers would be absent that day. Natalia had suggested that I cancel the session altogether if I didn’t feel well, but then I knew that would derail the rest of the schedule, so I decided to soldier on despite my cold.
It was a dreadful day all around. It was cold, rainy and windy as I made my way to the Russian Slavonic University by first stopping at the underpass to get more lamination and photocopying done for that day’s workshop. Carrying the laptop in a plastic bag along with the games and photocopies while trying to balance an umbrella over my head was no fun at all.
When I was waiting for the lamination to be done, I was approached by a young woman who identified herself as one of the teachers currently involved in the training program at the American Pilot School. She could barely carry on a conversation, and I had to finish all her sentences out of frustration. She offered to walk with me to the bus stop while telling me how desperate she was to improve her fluency.
Zarina called to find out if I still wanted to engage the services of their taxi driver to get me to and from the university, but I told her my RELO had just informed me that contrary to how it was done in Dushanbe, I couldn’t use the PAA funds for local transportation even to buy something as bulky and heavy as the printer. She indicated that she had had no confirmation as to how many of the teachers would be coming to the housewarming party, but would try to get a head count tomorrow morning, but I told her it’d too late by then.
The session was better attended than I had expected given the terrible weather outside, and I just interspersed speaking activities while going through the PowerPoint presentation emphasizing how much preparation was needed before students were expected to speak and how much better the students would feel given a chance to practice in the safety of pair or group work first.
I had to ride standing all the way to the flat and could feel my stomach becoming nauseous from the repeated stop-and-go motion of the marshrutka. As soon as I got close enough to my place, I exited it and walked back without even bothering to open the umbrella as I so welcome the fresh air and cool rain on my head to wipe away the sweat that had trickled down my head and neck. I really don’t know how the average Kyrgyz deals with riding in such crowded, stuffy and demeaning manner. I feel especially bad for the older men and women, usually stout in build, who have to squeeze into these minibuses and then fight their way out when their stops come up.
It was a relief to get home and get out of my wet clothes, put on pajamas and have a cup of steaming café con leche while perusing the web for additional materials needed for the next two weeks of presentations. I also realized this morning that I didn’t buy any rice for the cooking tomorrow which implies another trip to the grocery store. What a drag! On the other hand, I do need to go out and buy fresh flat bread.
I got to watch “Hannah and her Sisters”, an old Woody Allen film I had seen upon its release in 1986 while I still lived in Seattle. The master of witty dialogues was in full display and the movie had me feeling a bit melancholic for those years when I used to go to the cinema up to three times a week.