Friday, January 11, 2013
January 11, 2013
In need to familiarize myself with the bus routes from my new place, I walked to the bus stop while it was still dark outside hoping I could read the signs on the marshrutkas and find out which one could take me up to the VEFA Center. I waited for a while but none came and the trolleys seemed to have disappeared this morning, so I approached a young woman coming of my apartment complex and asked her. She mentioned three routes, and as if by miracle, one of them materialized on the spot.
It only took fifteen minutes to get to the center, and I ran into Zeinep on the way to the American Pilot School. The resource center had not power, so we had to combine both groups and head to Tatiana’s classroom to conduct the session on teaching children’s songs there. A frustrating moment came when I was unable to find the presentation which I had slaved on all day Sunday adding links to the sound clips on each page. Tatiana’s computer couldn’t even do a search by folder and came up with nothing when instructed to search by “songs”.
I had another presentation on the subject of teaching songs in general and had no recourse but to use that one even though I was aware that it was way over the level of the teachers present. I had brought my CD of children’s songs as a backup anyway and after the lecture we proceeded to play the songs and show them the movements. Some of the older teachers were not really into it and older one sat down after a while claiming exhaustion.
Tatiana had acquired some short video clips with many of the same songs and we watched those for a while. She doesn’t know how to make copies of CDs in her computer, so I offered to copy my CD for the teachers and she offered to reimburse me for the costs of the blank CDs.
I headed straight to the VEFA Center to try the Indian restaurant someone had recommended and got there around 11:20 only to be told they didn’t have a cook yet and to come back at noon. I boarded the minibus to Lingua and had lunch at the Host restaurant on the first floor, what they euphemistically call a business lunch or a simplified version of the menu. I got a piece of nam bread, some Basmati rice and tiny bowl with some fish chunks cooked in mildly spicy sauce. I had to pay for my tea separately and they didn’t serve Marsala tea. A complete disappointment, again.
Taxi drivers kill time in front of Lingua
Once a Lingua, Zarina called me into the lunch room to sing happy birthday to a teacher I had not never met as she only works in the evenings. I turned down the offer of cake, but learned they had been purchased from the bakery on the first floor of my building and that such bakery had a fine reputation for turning out delicious baked goods.
I met with Anna for a few minutes to catch up on what needed to be done for the CATEC conference so my presentation in Almaty was up-to-date and then sent an email to Natalia asking her to provide us with names and contact information for all other Central Asian embassies so we could get hold of them once the selection process was completed.
It was time to return a call I had received from Meredith, the person filling-in at the embassy for the public affairs officer, as she wanted to discuss with me the proposed trip to the southern regions to conduct additional training sessions this spring. Elvira had submitted the proposal, and even though it looked good on the surface, she had wanted to talk to me to see if I was in agreement that this would be a good investment of funds. After I gave her a glowing report on the just completed training sessions this week, she said she would green light the project sometime next week. I called Elvira and notified her immediately.
Gulnara had requested a meeting with Zarina and me to discuss my schedule and what activities I should be involved in this year. I notified her of my upcoming conference in Almaty and the remaining commitment for training sessions at the Bishkek Humanities University coming up in February in addition to the visit to the southern regions. Gulnara would like to see me do some training for in-service teachers at some point, but will remain flexible on the dates.
The package that Caroline had sent so I could take it to Almaty and deliver it to Aziza had arrived. Zarina gave me the slip to claim it and I proceeded to the post office where a young guy waiting behind me helped me with the process when it came to listing my home address and signing for it. Caroline had paid $48.95 for a small box in which she had included a set of nesting speakers for my laptop. That was expensive, indeed.
The misspelled sign at the post office
Another example of a poor translation
I waited for one of the trolleys Zarina had indicated could take me home from the post office, but only marshrutkas came by dousing me with exhaust fumes on a steady basis. The weather was remarkably mild, the package not too heavy and I was not in any hurry, so I decided to explore the side streets and see how long it would take to get home on foot. I stopped to buy flat bread and then the thin-skin lemons I used to love in Dushanbe and finally made it home.