Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 20, 2013

I was glad to face another day without the prospect of snow in the horizon. I was even able to forgo my fleece sweatshirt this morning and just wear my wool coat on the way to Lingua. If only all the ice were gone from sidewalks and streets as I could then ditch my boots and just wear my clogs.

I decided to cover the cost of the ten-page handout I was going to give the teachers tomorrow and printed the originals at Lingua. I asked Nargiza to write me a detailed note in Russian explaining to the cute guy at the underpass that I needed 25 sets of double-sided copies to be picked up the next day.

Chynara sat with me to inquire as to how many applications for the CATEC conference we had received so far and I indicated that only a handful. She felt this was no cause for alarm as Kyrgyz people tend to wait until the last minute to get things done. She’s still debating as to her participation since she’s already taken part in other conferences, but I encouraged her to submit a proposal just in case we were to run low on qualified applicants.

I left Lingua at two and dropped the original documents trying, pointlessly, to verify if the note was clear to him. He nodded his head repeatedly, and I left it at that not completely at ease, but just recognizing that it was beyond my control. I walked to the NT stationery store to buy two reams of paper and a cleaner for the whiteboard the Bishkek Humanities University so I could finally be able to write on it.

The afternoon was so pleasant that walking the rest of the way home seemed like a good idea. I turned on Toktogula and after walking just two blocks came upon the Kolobok store my landlady had mentioned to me. It was a bright, well-stocked store with mozzarella cheese on display along with ricotta and many others. My eyes instantly latched on to the display of coffee beans, brands I had never seen, and I purchased one that said espresso. We’ll see how they stack against the ones from Sierra Coffee as the prices were about the same.

Madina called at four to confirm she was on her way to my place. When she arrived and I ushered her into my kitchen, she apologized for not having brought a present as it is the custom in Kyrgyzstan as she’d thought we were having coffee across the street at Vanilla Sky. I told her my coffee was a good as theirs and much cheaper.

Madina, whom I had judged to be about 23, is actually 27 and desperate to find a man to marry as most men her age are already married. She lives with her married sister, and her family no longer inquires about the possibility of her getting married soon. She’d be more likely to wed if she agrees to marry a man who’s currently divorced.

She asked about my apartment and I complained about the landlady’s lack of response when a problem cropped up. Madina had the perfect solution: tell your landlady I’ll help find a “Husband-by-the-hour” person who’ll repair whatever is broken, will provide me with a receipt and then I can deduct it from the rent. I was laughing uproariously about this concept, but promised to try it on the owner very soon.

I walked Madina to the bus stop on Manas Avenue and found out she knows exactly where the seamstresses are located near the Osh Bazaar, and is willing to take me there next Tuesday. On the way back to my flat, I stopped at Narodni to buy my usual supply of water, juice and milk. The cashiers recognize me by now and only point to the screen when the total comes up.

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