Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In which I get proposed to in a scary basement vet clinic

October 30, 2008

Today I had to take my kitty passports to various places in order to get the Bishkek Four approved for transport. My first destination was Orozbekova 253, way the hell north of town. I didn't know where exactly, just that it was north of town and a long way from the school. I took a taxi. The taxi driver had to stop and consult his map numerous times, but eventually he dropped me off at what looked like an old Russian-style wooden house, surrounded by a chain-link fence. The yard was filled with cars in various states of disrepair. It didn't look very much like the sort of place where one goes to get kitty passports validated!

There were several men in the yard taking a smoke break, so I approached them and explained what I needed. One of them told me to follow him, and began leading me downstairs to the basement of this ancient house. Not exactly the safest-feeling situation! However, it turned out that in the basement was a vet clinic, while the upstairs was some kind of vet school. The basement was dark (they had no electricity) and dank and reeked of chemicals. There was an ancient metal table with an IV at one end in the center of the room, and nothing else, and it looked like some kind of psychopath’s private torture chamber from a horror flick. Unlike my shiny, well-lit vet clinic on Sovietskaya, which is staffed by three jolly, rotund Russian women, this clinic was staffed by numerous skinny Kyrgyz men. The skinny Kyrgyz man who needed to validate my passport wasn't there when I arrived, so they asked me to sit down and wait. While I waited, I got to chat with one of the vets. He was very nice and suggested that I marry him so he could go to the US. I told him that I planned to continue traveling; he said that didn't matter, he loved to travel. But he likes rap music and doesn't like cats - it would never work. As I waited, a young man carried in a Rottweiler with something wrong with its leg. They tied it to the scary table in the middle of the room and began operating sans anesthetic. I snuck a photo.

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Then the man I needed to see arrived. He looked over my kitty passports, stamped them and then completed several kitty-export-from-K-stan forms. He said it was a pity I was leaving so soon, or else he'd get to know me and then perhaps I could have a Kyrgyz husband, hint, hint. Apparently all the eligible bachelors hang out in the scary basement at Orozbekova 253!

But my day was not over. From Orozbekova 253 I had to travel to another out-of-the-way office: the State Veterinary Department, located at Budenosh 247, where the forms completed by the vet at Orozbekova had to be stamped by some other government official. He was really confused as to why I was taking mixed breed street cats home ("Surely there are street cats in America?"), but stamped all my paperwork nontheless.

As I wandered out of the State Veterinary Department, wondering how the hell I was going to find transport back to civilization, I heard a voice shout, "Annie! Hello!" and turned around to see Elmira, a student I taught for my first five months in K-stan, but whom I hadn't seen since. Apparently she lives across the street from the State Veterinary Department. I talked to her for a little while, and she helped me find the correct marshrutka to take me back to the London School.

Today's adventures were both mundane and absurd. And the kind of stuff that I'm going to miss when I'm back in the "real world." I leave on Sunday!!

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