Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15, 2013

Have I mentioned that residents of the city of Bishkek will have no hot water for an entire month? I couldn’t believe it at first, but then my landlady confirmed it. When I mentioned it to Willoughby, who didn’t know about it either, we both wondered why it would take the city workers one month to supposedly clean up the pipes. I volunteered that perhaps they’d be using a toothbrush to clean every inch of them.

In any event, now it is a hassle to heat up water for every little task such as brushing my teeth since I like to soften up the bristles on my toothbrush because of the excessive sensitivity in my teeth.

I responded to all three emails from Caroline, Carol and Corrie accepting my request for inclusion of their handouts in my e-book. I then headed out to Lingua where I hadn’t been for almost four weeks. When I got there, I found out that some work was being done on the first floor and power had to be cut off for the entire day.

Without access to their computer and Internet, I basically had nothing to do. I chatted with Zarina, who informed me that she and her husband had purchased a plot of land and were beginning to build their own house. That was really good news as I know she wasn’t particularly happy about living with her in-laws.

When Gulnara was free, we sat down and talked at length about my trip to the south and the state of teacher training in Kyrgyzstan, especially the lack of standards when it comes to the curriculum the future teachers were exposed to at the different universities. She’d like to see a systematic approach to the training of these teachers, but has seen little progress in that area.

Zarina ordered lunch for everyone since no microwave was available to heat up leftovers. I had my usual lagman and salad and we had a most cordial meal in the teachers’ lounge with Nargiza, Chynara and Adina joining us along with Vicky from the bookshop.

Gulnara set up an appointment for me to have a pedicure tomorrow as I mentioned I was going to the conference in Issyk-Kul and my feet looked terrible. I’m to call Irina from the bus stop near Chuy Avenue and she’ll come and get me. I left Lingua after lunch and returned to the house to work on my presentation for the symposium.

Since my presentation is dealing mostly with singers that might be familiar to the Kyrgyz general population, I had to add all the music clips anew to the presentation and that took some time. I only have twenty minutes for this one, so what I’ve done might be overkill; nonetheless, it’s done and ready to go.

I most surprised to receive an email from a guy from France notifying me that my blog had been selected for inclusion among a host of other international blogs. At first, I almost thought the message was just spam, but it turned out to be true. Here’s the link to my entry:

How flattering, indeed.

Willoughby called me a little after five to say she was already at the Chinatown restaurant since she’d finished her work for the day and didn’t feel like going home and coming back. I offered to join her as soon as I could get ready. I had no trouble finding the place and we had a chance to catch up on the latest news on both sides.

At six, I went to find Max, who had agreed to meet me by the Ala-Too Square’s fountains, and ran into Al who was just coming in. Rebecca was next, then a guy Willoughby had invited and who acted really weirdly until he chose to leave early claiming he’d already had dinner, but would be coming back later. He never returned.

Luann was the last one to join us. Neither Gulnara nor Elvira showed up, something I kind of knew since neither one of them enjoys reading for pleasure. Dinner was a hit or miss proposition with dishes freshly prepared while others were cold. My beef and peppers dish was overly salty. I enjoyed the soup more than anything else.

Max began his presentation a book by a female Chinese writer, I followed with my report on “Sex at Dawn”, which Max kept, and Rebecca on “Where’d you go, Bernadette “, which I kept as it had something like five pages of blurbs recommending it, and Willoughby reported on the “Stolen Lives” book we had both read.

Al had read nothing because he claimed to be preparing to take the TOEFL. Luann had prepared a book report on “The God of Small Things”, a book both Rebecca and I had already read. When Max asked her not read it aloud, but to talk about the author and its plot, she refused saying she needed to read it line by line.

She has a tinny voice and the fact that the restaurant had a crooner on the stage didn’t help any in our ability to hear her. Max kept needling her about being a teacher and thus able to talk about a topic without having to read it. Luann got offended and put the piece of paper aside and refused to talk about her book at all.

We settled on the next book club meeting as June 12th, so that Max can attend one last time before heading home for good. I offered to host since Al was the only choice to do so and he claimed to live with his mother and needing her permission to bring strangers into her home. All the locals have refused so far to host the book club at their respective houses.

I don’t mind hosting in June since most likely that will be the last time I get to see the members of the club and because I’m not really sure this group will stay together once I’m gone. The local teachers aren’t interested in reading, always alleging they have no time or, what I think is the real truth of the matter, simply because they find it intimidating to have to talk at length about a particular subject in English only.

Rebecca and I walked together to my apartment building chatting about Central Asia. She’d just returned from a vacation home, to Boston, and was questioning her need to be away from her family for so long since she’s not one of those people who detests her family and wants to stay away from them.

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