Sunday, January 13, 2013
January 12, 2013
It was snowing heavily when I got out of bed this morning, and I was grateful for not having had any obligations pending early in the morning. For the first time since I got here, I was able to listen to my music through the set of speaker Caroline has sent and the sound was crystal clear throughout the entire apartment.
Christina called around ten to confirm she’d meet me at 1:00 to take me to her conversation club after we had adobo. The snow had pretty stopped at that point and what was on the ground was soft and slushy making it easy to make my way through it. We boarded a minibus on Chuy Avenue and traveled quite a distance, past the Ataturk Park and the Medical College, two places I had never seen, until we came to stop and she told me her apartment complex was a stone throw from the Orto-Sai Bazaar. I decided to stop by on my way back as I needed to shop for a few items.
Christina took me to somebody else’s apartment, occupied by two Filipino guys, and went back to her own place to bring the food and coffee. I chitchatted with them learning they had lived in Dubai and then we had our meal, but not before they stopped me so they could say grace. We had adobo, white rice and mashed potatoes with Christina telling me that mashed potatoes were considered dessert in the Philippines and were eaten last. She was drinking hot Tang instead of tea or coffee, something else I had never experienced.
Christina had been coy all along as to what she did for a living or how she had set up this conversation club, so today I finally pinned her down and she told me that she and the guy leading the discussion, Rodelio, worked at a Korean language school as English teachers. Rodelio had set up his laptop and an LCD projector in the living room and had chosen the topic of setting goals from some website. When I asked him if he intended to discuss New Year’s resolutions, he resolutely denied that.
I got the impression after a little while that this might be a group of Christian people trying to attract locals to their religion through the offer of free conversation classes in English as there was no format to the lesson, no blackboard to write on, no discussion of vocabulary or corrections when mistakes were made and Rodelio insisted everyone should feel free to speak even those who lacked the vocabulary to be able to do so. After an hour and a half of sputtering conversation, I indicated my need to get to the market before it got dark, and Christina was gracious enough to accompany me there and guide me through the maze of corridors.
I’ll have to find a way to let her know of my hunch and turn down her invitation to partake in any other meetings there. I did meet an attractive, engaging and articulate young teacher there, Cholpon, who served as an informal interpreter for those whose English wasn’t up to par. She had indicated that their meetings could go on until six or seven in the evening and I thought Rodelio didn’t feel comfortable bringing up anything religious while I was there.
My shopping expedition was a very successful one as I was able to buy the saucepan I was looking for, a corkscrew for the wine bottles I’ll be buying and a hefty one it was, along with a set of salt shaker and pepper grinder for a song. I then focused on getting the groceries to cook for Willoughby tomorrow: orange lentils, the kind very popular in Turkey, curry powder, and best of all, I finally found pork meat and bought a kilo for me and one for Willoughby who had been unsuccessful in finding any so far.
On the way out of the bazaar, I found a man baking bread in a tandoor oven and patiently waited to take one home. Christina got me into the right marshrutka and asked the driver to let me know when to get off. I felt as I was traveling in a different city for I had never been to that part of town and it looked and felt quite different.
The driver advised when I got to the corner of Moskovskaya and I then made one last stop at Narodni for salt, water, milk and vinegar. I now knew I could go to my flat sure of not needing to go out the next day at all.