Saturday, April 20, 2013

April 20, 2013

Afraid of being late for the “Trace Effects” tutorial at the library, I left the flat in such a rush that I forgot my sunglasses on a morning when blinding sunshine was pouring all around me. I squinted my to the place almost at the same at Naziba and her fellow students and found out that none of the computers on the third floor of the American Corner had the program installed in them.

I had taken that possibility into account and brought my own copy just in case. The students set out to copy the program only to find out it had to be done through the one computer where an assistant sat supervising the space. I decided to use my spare time riffling through the numerous magazines displayed on several tables for unusual photos for my collection.

One of the students, Timerlane, approached me and we ended up talking the entire hour since no teacher showed up for the tutorial. Willoughby had texted that she’d overslept, which was just as well. Timerlane requested my copy of the video game to give it to his school, and I was more than happy to comply.

Elena, Olga, Natalia and I met at 11:30 to select the six semi-finalists for the TEA program. Natalia indicated she was not to take part in the decision process, but to keep in mind that applicants who had a Peace Corps volunteer counterpart should not be given priority as they were already benefiting from such an ongoing relationship.

We had 45 candidates and I had put together a table with my comments for each one. I offered to read mine first and then asked Elena and Olga for their comments to see if they concurred with me or not, and based on those comments we gave it a green or red light. It still took about an hour and half to get through all the names and debate the merits of each candidate.

I had agreed to have lunch with Damira when she was done with her training at Lingua and I found her waiting for me in the lobby of the library. We walked to a cafeteria nearby where I ordered soup and salad only as I had already made arrangements to take Willoughby out to dinner on her birthday.

Damira and I engaged in a spirited discussion about women’s status in this country, the role of sex education, the imposition of motherhood on every woman with a working uterus, their subservient status when they get married and so on. I like the fact that she’s willing to discuss these issues even when she usually falls on the “But it’s our tradition” line to justify the injustices.

When her friends came by to get her, I walked to the Panfilov Park nearby to take some photos and then decided to walk all the way to the Fortuna Café where Willoughby was to join me for dinner at six.

The restaurant Max had recommended so highly was such a small space that I wondered where they could fit the jazz band that was supposed to play on weekends. The place was completely empty when I walked in except for Willoughby already perusing the menu at one of the tables.

When I couldn’t find any dishes that indicated a Georgina provenance, the manager came to inform us they had changed the menu just a week before as they no longer had a cook from Georgia. They were now serving European-style cuisine, whatever that was supposed to mean in Bishkek.

Willoughby didn’t mind staying and trying out the place for once. We ordered beers, a schnitzel with fries for her and some concoction with lamb, peppers and “spices” for me. It took over an hour to get our food and in the meantime, a couple of musicians arrived and position their instruments not five feet away from us.

The schnitzel did not resemble what I had eaten in Germany last year and my dish was medley of tough lamb chunks and red peppers with no spices whatsoever in it. The corn pancakes were at least edible. Meanwhile, two guys with electric guitars and another with a set of percussion instrument started to play behind us something that resembled jazz music.

It was too loud to allow for conversation and a couple of tables on the other side were now occupied with its diners puffing away at their cigarettes. That was our cue to pay the bill and leave the place. Georgian food would have to wait until we find out about another restaurant. This one went directly into the black list. 

Finding a marshrutka was no trouble at all and I got home by nine. 

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