Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012

I must have slept tied up into a knot for my whole body ached when the people upstairs woke me up at 5:40 am. Cursing under my breath, as I’ve become so used to doing these days, I got out of bed and made my coffee promising myself to start packing whatever I could early this morning.

It was not meant to be as my sister sent me an email indicating she was ready to skype then and we got into a long conversation about the family, their house and my mom’s condition. She was surprised to hear I had to work on Christmas Day as last year while in Tajikistan; classes had been over way before this date came along.

Once we hung up, I had a piece of pastry and hot chocolate before departing for my Russian class. Ainura agreed to take a look at the rental agreement and found no clause indicating there would be any penalties if I moved out earlier. She had brought a Christmas present, a miniature yurt for me to keep my earrings and other jewelry. I felt bad I hadn’t brought anything, but she said it was my holiday and not hers.

Took the marshrutka to Lingua and stopped briefly at the underpass to pick up my lamination. I brought Zarina up-to-date on my decision to vacate the apartment as soon as I found something suitable and she called Nadya to inform her. The landlady hit the roof and started screaming alleging she had been to the building while I was out and had not heard any noises whatsoever. She demanded that I paid two week’s worth of rent to give her a chance to find another tenant.

Zarina was getting very nervous speaking to this woman and Gulnara came by and took over explaining to Nadya that I was not obligated to stay in a flat where I couldn’t even relax. Gulnara then asked Nadya if she was reporting the income from the rental of this unit and Nadya said no. Knowing she now had an advantage, Gulnara explained I was staying put until I found a place and that she would be paid for every day I was there. Nadya insisted on going over to the apartment right away to verify its condition, but I told her I couldn’t do it then. Nadya said she’d proceed to enter the apartment with the woman that controls the building. I felt very uncomfortable with that idea, but Gulnara put me at ease saying it was the best course to follow.

We had our Secret Santa gift exchange accompanied by pizza and soft drinks. I got a salmon-colored sleeveless top and a tube of hand lotion from Leyla. Gulnara treated everyone to handmade soaps wrapped in a beautiful satchel. I gave Zarina the bracelet I had purchased for her and she was delighted with it. Nargiza liked the necklace she got from me and indicated she didn’t have anything like it.

It was time then for the observation of the micro-teaching lessons from the candidates who had survived the previous round of interviews. I had missed half of them because of the severe weather last Wednesday, but this time I was ready. Some of them were better prepared than others, some I could barely hear or make out what they were saying. We only had fifteen minutes at the end of five lessons to choose the three candidates to invite for the communicative activities methodology training.

The Christmas Eve dinner Willoughby and I had planned for seven was changed to five after the other Gulnara indicated that time was too late for her. I got on a marshrutka and headed to the Peking Duck restaurant only to encounter the worst traffic jam yet. When I got off, I showed two guys the name of the restaurant Zarina had written in Russian and they pointed across the street. On my way there, I ran into Willoughby and a young African-American woman, named Asia, how appropriate, who is also a Peace Corps volunteer in a village about two hours from Bishkek.

                                       Dinner at a Chinese restaurant

Elvira arrived few minutes later and we entered the restaurant together, a brightly lit place ready for New Year’s celebration with tons of glitter and tinsel  hanging from every wall. My fish was all right, but the sauce was completely different from what the others had had. The fried rice at least resembled what I’m used to in the States. Willoughby was not impressed indicating she had been to at least two other Chinese places nearby that were much better than this one. Asia was happy with her choice and got to take home leftovers.

Elvira and I agreed to look at apartments on Wednesday afternoon after our meeting with Forum as I hope to be able to move out by Friday. I was fortunate to find a seat on the ride back to my apartment. Nothing seemed amiss in my place.

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