Saturday, November 17, 2012
November 17, 2012
The weather was gorgeous in spite of the frost in the air and icy puddles I encountered while walking to the supermarket to make the last minute shopping for the evening’s gathering. I looked and looked fruitlessly for a corkscrew to open the bottle of white wine I wanted to add to the chicken recipe, but found nothing in the house wares section or the wine one. My last hope was that some of the guests would call me for directions and I could ask for them to bring one of their own.
I stopped at the little bakery on my way back to the flat and asked the guy for five pieces using the word I knew in Tajik. The poor guy thought I spoke Persian and started to speak to me in that language as he is from Uzbekistan he indicated. He produced three round cakes from the tandoor oven and two others from a stack nearby and they smelled divine. I love the fact that he covers his loaves with sesame seeds thus giving them an additional aromatic flavor.
I was able to buy a bottle of bleach even though I wasn’t quite sure I was getting the right thing as I guided myself by the color of the label which looked almost like the ones back home. I scrubbed the toilet, sink and bathtub with it and was quite pleased with the results even though I could barely smell it since my sinuses continued to be plugged up. I managed to put all the clothing away in the cubbyholes I have instead of a closet and the valuables inside one of my suitcases. I prepared the salad and started to cook the rice and beans early knowing how temperamental that stove top can be.
I don’t have any counter space even to set up the cutting board I had purchased and needed to use the sink to peel and cut up the vegetables for the chicken fricassee recipe. The dull knife didn’t make things any easier and my hands felt rough after a while. I soaked the Chinese mushrooms in water, instead of the white wine I had intended to, and added the black olives to the dish. I had already placed all the plastic plates, cups, cutlery and napkins on the ledge next to the dining room table along with the instant coffee, green and black tea and water.
Natalia, from the embassy, sent me a text message indicating she’d not be able to attend due to family problems. Rebecca, formerly from Dushanbe and who had just moved to Bishkek today, called to say she was all tuckered out and wanted to skip the party and offering to meet with me later on in the week.
At 4:15, a group from the Forum Association, Gulnara, Tatiana and Mariamgul, showed up bringing Korean salads and Kyrgyz fried bread. Shortly after that, the Fulbrighters, Masha, Max and Bryce arrived with more wine but no corkscrew to open them. Masha had made a lemon curd dessert instead of the sangria she had promised to make. Asel, also from Forum, showed up bringing me sweets and a homemade sauce to add to my dishes.
My biggest frustration had been not being able to play music for even the MS media player kept rejecting every blank CD I put in and the old stereo system in the living room doesn’t have a connection for an MP3 player. Bryce had shown me some music he had in his IPod, but we didn’t have a chance to upload it to my laptop. I brought the laptop into the dining room and played music, barely audible, until the battery died out.
No one from the Lingua School showed up or even called to cancel. I have a difficult time believing everyone had a prior commitment today and couldn’t even begin to speculate as to what might have kept them away including the Peace Corps volunteer, Matt. It’s going to be a bit awkward when I show up on Monday and they either ask me about the party or try to politely come up with some excuse.
I ended up with tons of food and asked Bryce and Max to please fill out a container and take some home. Masha turned down the offer and left the lemon custard for me to eat it in the future. I picked up the used plates and cups, napkins and cutlery, put away the salads, returned the furniture to its original placement and then realized that my freezer isn’t big enough to put away all the leftovers. So, I just dealt with the flat bread and decided to deal with the rest tomorrow.
I got to watch yet another movie, “The Adjustment Bureau”, one I had never heard of but which kept me at the edge of my seat with its futuristic outlook and somewhat plausible premise that our lives are really outside of our control and that somebody else, the chairman, directs everything. Superb acting, believable characters and, of course, the fabulous setting of New York City was the cherry on top.