Saturday, March 23, 2013
March 21, 2013
I made sure and get up before the couch surfers did so I could have my coffee in peace and quiet. They were up at seven and after having a cup of coffee said goodbye to take a taxi to the bus terminal once again. I continued to work on several projects until half past nine when I left the flat to meet with Willoughby at Ala-Too Square for what I had hoped would be a fun celebration.
What started out as a sunny morning quickly turned cloudy and cool as I waited for the marshrutka. When I got to the square, I didn’t see the throngs of people I had anticipated and instead vendors were barely setting up their stands, many of them purveying sumalak in a variety of containers including Coke bottles.
I stopped at the Masal coffee house and asked to let me use their bathroom. The young woman asked if I was going to order coffee and said no, that I was just there to watch the celebration at the square. She smiled widely and said she was glad I knew about this Kyrgyz holiday, but I corrected her by saying this was indeed a Persian holiday and she acted all confused. I guess she never got to study that part of history in her classes.
There were lots of families mingling around the square but except for the few people dressed in traditional costumes so others could get their photos taken with them, I found little of interest taking place. They young guys had drawn a circle on the pavement and were playing a game of chance throwing a sheep’s bone into the circle trying to hit some of the bills held by down by stones. I didn’t see anyone succeed while I was observing.
Although a stage had been set up with speakers and what not, nothing was going on up there either. At eleven, a loudspeaker indicated the change of the guard was about to take place and the crowd moved toward the glass case where the two soldiers, looking like mommies in their stillness, switched places with two others looking exactly like the first ones.
Willoughby indicated she was antsy to go home and start playing with the program I’d downloaded for her and didn’t much point in sticking around. I walked toward the amusement park area just to see if the scene was any different there. I found more vendors of sumalak, fried piroshkies and samsis along with displays of cheap toys and more balloons, but no music, dancing or singing. I gave up and decided to go back home.
Zamira called to say she wanted to invite to her parents’ house for dinner, and silly me expecting it might be something special, I accepted. When she picked me up and asked her about celebrating Navruz, she told me that as Dungan people, they didn’t observe this holiday at all. Dinner tonight was going to be just lagman noodles and salad.
Her parents greeted me with the usual effusiveness and one of the grandsons kept me company while the table was set and the meal brought in. He attends the Russian Slavic University and plans on becoming a translator, but couldn’t answer any of my questions. The grandfather, who’s paying his tuition, started to berate him and insisted he speak to me regardless of the fact that the guy has no vocabulary to convey any thoughts whatsoever.
During dinner, Zamira’s father extended an invitation, again, for me to come to his house and teach his grandson English on full-time basis refusing to believe I couldn’t make him a fluent speaker in the remaining four months of my contract even if I wanted to. Out of gratitude to the family, I offered to spend some time with poor guy as my schedule allowed.
Zamira took me home after her mother insisted on giving me a package with leftovers. She is also under pressure from her father to finish her doctorate at the same university as she’s the only child that has that possibility. He refuses to accept that she’s handling too many responsibilities as it is with the management of her language school along with a husband and two children.