Friday, May 10, 2013

May 9, 2013

The weather was just perfect to take in the celebrations for May 9, Victory Day, when school children and adults alike pay their respects to the veterans who fought and won against the German army. Many of the soldiers who lost their lives or ended up cripple came from Central Asia, so although no longer a satellite of the former Soviet Union, the celebration continues to honor their own soldiers.

We held one session with Elvira while I hurriedly put together a PowerPoint presentation on the way Memorial Day, a similar celebration in the United States, contrasted with this one so the teachers had a chance to compare and contrast the two cultures upon their return from attending the celebration.

There was police cordon around the stage where speeches, singing and dancing were going to take place, so I asked Elvira if she could talk to the guards about allowing me to get closer so I could take some decent photos, but she felt from the get go that such a request would be turned down automatically.

I appealed to Uluk, and he immediately took the lead and walked me to the area where the veterans were seated and from where I had a clear view of the stage. I then was able to take photos to my heart’s content. For the first time, I was able to listen to Kyrgyz music and see dances by a variety of groups. I could not say which ones were autochthonous at all.

When we got ready to return to the university campus, I ran into two American guys, one of which was wearing a police uniform. James turned out to be from Vermont and indicated he’d be posted in Batken for one year to do community service with the local police force. We all exchanged cards and promised to look each other when they happened to be in Bishkek next.

We headed to a nearby park where a contingent of families were busy picnicking on the grass or tables and vendors were having a field day selling the local delicacies along with vodka and other alcoholic drinks. I was really surprised to see alcohol openly being sold among Muslim people who normally shun it.

We ordered plov and salad, but I hardly ate mine since it came cold, probably having been cooked earlier in the day and then carried to the park. We returned to the classroom where the teachers compared and contrasted Memorial Day and Victory day while reviewing suitable vocabulary to describe the different aspects of both celebrations.

I then proceeded with my presentation on grammar games, which took up the remaining three hours, so the teachers could have a chance to play each game at least once. I feet were killing me by then as I had stood for most of the day as it was.

But weren’t done yet. It was time to go and print the certificates for the attendees only to realize it was a holiday and the only business with the tax ID number Elvira required was closed for the holiday. We went into another business that also served as a photo studio and where several families were lining up against the wall, like soldiers at an inspection, to have their photos taken.

This business only had a MS word and excel version from 2003 and would not open up our documents. I was already starving and dead tired, so Jigyt took us to the guesthouse to get rid of our bags and change into jeans to go to an early dinner. He promised to pick us up early tomorrow to see if we can print the certificates and my handouts for the session on teaching poetry early on.

We went back to the first place I had had the fish dinner and the waitress acquiesced to my request to put a bottle of beer in the freezer for a while so as to make it ashen, the way I like to drink them. The meal was all right and then Elvira ran into a young woman from France she’d here a couple of months ago.

Laura knew the two Americans I had met at the stadium and wanted to set up a dinner arrangement for Friday night. We were all game as we really wanted to celebrate the conclusion of this most exhausting of exercise and what a better way than sharing food with other ex-pats.

Back at the guesthouse, I made some more progress on my paper, which is due tomorrow, and didn’t go to bed until past eleven, a record for me. I’m sending the paper out first thing in the morning, come hell or high water.

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