Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 1, 2013

Although I knew I couldn’t fully take part in the Zumba session Layra had invited me to, I decided to join her since it took place across the street from my apartment and the weather was relatively warm. The Zumba instructor, Naoe, is of Japanese descendent and married to an American working for the Manas Transit Center. They live in a spacious apartment with their four children and pay $1200.00 a month. They plan to relocate to the States, Florida specifically, come June.

Two women, one from Bulgaria and the other from Mongolia, were there also. Naoe provided the usual mix of reggaeton, salsa, cumbia, merengue and bachata, but added an expected twist in the form of a tango number. She only charges 100 soms per class and I thought I’d be willing to double that if she could do private lessons with me when my schedule allows it. We exchanged numbers and agreed to discuss it.

I made it to Lingua just in time for our meeting with Jennifer, Natalia, Emma and Gulnara. The gist of it was the new proposal Lingua has submitted to the Ministry of Education to provide the required courses teachers need to take for re-certification in the form of four modules that can be taken individually, but in a cycle, and when the teacher completes the cycle, he/she receives her certificate.

Jennifer seemed impressed with the idea, but when I asked Gulnara what part Forum was going to play in it, the answer was very vague, something along the lines of providing contacts in the different regions. I’m sure the people at Forum won’t be happy if this proposal is endorsed by the U.S. embassy and they lose their funding because Lingua will be providing that service already.

I went to have a cup of coffee with a young woman I’d met at the American Corner and insisted on trying out a coffeehouse I had seen nearby called Masal. The place was tastefully decorated, suitable dark and more importantly, quiet. The place allows smoking but there was only one other table occupied and they weren’t smoking, so I agreed to stay.

Marhabat lives in a village one hour outside Bishkek and comes to the American Corner faithfully to improve her English so she can compete for entrance to the American University of Central Asia where Elvira works. I promised to visit her village when the spring comes as she insisted the place is really ugly right now unless I was interested in skiing or skating, neither of which interest me in the least.

I took a marshrutka to get to the American Councils, right across the street from where I used to live, as Munara and Rebecca had invited to have some margaritas, chips, and salsa at five. I didn’t know that a staff member, the one who goes Latin dancing twice a week, was leaving the organization and thus the party. She invited me to join the group tomorrow, but I told her I had little energy for that right now.

The margaritas were great as the woman making them used to be a bartender. I had two of them before Nona, from Osh, joined us. Rebecca, Nona and I shared a taxi and I made sure and stop at the pharmacy to buy some kind of allergy medication Gulnara had recommended. The pharmacy insisted that was for the flu and not allergies and sold me something entirely different.

When it came time for me to take the medication, I discovered the package was empty as it only contained the little brochure with the information about it. I hated to have to put on my clothes again, but it was only ten to nine and there was a good chance the pharmacy was still open. The door was close, but when I tapped on the little window, the same young woman came to help me.

Somehow I conveyed to her that I had received an empty package and she promptly walked behind the counter and fetched another box. I contrasted that response to what I could have possibly heard in the States. Most likely something along the lines of “Are you crazy?” The medication did succeed in temporarily drying my sinuses, but sleep was still elusive.

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