Saturday, November 16, 2013

Illness, boredom, and other banalities

July 14, 2013

I have to admit that this week has been pretty boring and not altogether pleasant health-wise. At the beginning of the week, I was still suffering the after effects of my illness from the previous week (including the resurgence of my sore throat and the coughing up of all sorts of gunk from the deepest regions of my lungs). That faded, only to be replaced by my period and its attendant side effects. (I’d decided not to try skipping it again after the disastrous results of my previous attempt.) Then on Saturday my day was filled with what you might refer to as #7s on the Bristol Stool Chart. This was followed on Sunday by the worst gas that I have ever in my life suffered. It was incredibly painful. And let’s just say that it’s a very good thing that I’m in a building all by myself as it’s only Котчик who gets to witness this latest health catastrophe. I only have one week left in Bar Bulak main – let’s hope that health-wise it will be better than the previous two!

Class-wise, now that I’m once again able to talk, I’ve been playing catch-up for the classes I missed. Even though I’m only supposed to teach Monday through Thursday, I taught on Friday and Saturday this week as well, and I’m planning on teaching next Friday, too. The only particularly interesting moment of note from my teaching experiences this week was on Thursday. Remember how I’d mentioned that since I was staying with the school’s director, getting locked out of the school building wouldn’t be a problem like it was in Toguz Bulak? Haha. Aidai (the 9 year old) had been placed in charge of the keys. She’s an incredibly smart girl, but she’s only 9 after all. She decided to spend Wednesday night down by the shore at the yurt camp, and to skip class on Thursday morning. Unfortunately, she kept the keys with her. They had to send someone down to the lake to get the keys, but as a result all of my Group 1 class was taught in the playground, as was half of my Group 2 class. Of course, this being Kyrgyzstan, we got to practice some of what we’d been learning in class when various farm animals walked by:

“What are they?” “They are cows.” “How many cows are there?” “There are two cows.” “What are they?” “They are sheep.” “How many sheep are there?” “There are three sheep.”

As I mentioned previously, Ramadan began on Tuesday. As my host family is pretty religious (what with Kuban being the local imam and all) they are definitely observing the fast. Foreigners, pregnant women, and small children are exempt from fasting. We don’t have any pregnant women in our household, although there are small children and (of course) me. Unfortunately, while I am not required to fast, and while there is food available to me prior to 8pm, the eating prospects have diminished drastically. Gone are the 4-5 meals per day, and anything we eat prior to 8pm or so tends to consist of leftovers of dubious quality.

We’ve eaten most of our evening meals at their café at the yurt camp down by the lake, probably because most of their personal cooking equipment has been relocated down there. I don’t mind… except that the “road” from the village to the yurt camp is long, narrow, and bumpy, and the ride back home with a full stomach (inevitably in the backseat and with the heater going full blast) is quite often nausea-inducing.

I’ve been sneaking food back from the lake for Котчик, since his prospects during the day – other than what he can catch for himself – have dwindled as much as mine have. I suspect that the declining number of baby chicks in the yard (they’ve dropped in numbers from 11 to 4 in the past week) has something to do with the lack of table scraps readily available for the cat. (Котчик and Buddy the dog are fed table scraps. As Mocha lives next door, I’ve no idea what she eats, but I’m assuming it’s the same.)

The London School brought a group of four American students who are currently living in Bishkek studying Russian and Kyrgyz to Bar Bulak today for round table discussion with several of the locals and me. The idea was to discuss the differences between the Soviet period and now, as well as the problems and benefits that have come following the various regime changes. I can’t say that I personally learned anything new, given my rather long-running obsession with all things Kyrgyzstan, but perhaps the students did. The Kyrgyz participants got to ask questions about the US. The one male student of the four kept responding with these hopelessly naïve answers along the lines of how racism no longer exists in the US, how we’re a country of immigrants, so we accept all newcomers into our great melting pot, and how our wonderful democratic/capitalist system is the best in the world. I know I rolled my eyes quite a few times; I couldn’t help myself. I kinda wanted to bang my head on the table.

The London School’s Director asked me what changes I can see in Kyrgyzstan between now and five years ago when I last lived here. I mainly talked about the improvements that I can see in the infrastructure – specifically with regards to electricity. Five years ago, we quite often had no power for 8-12 hours a day in the capital, and whenever I went to any village, there was never any electricity. Also, a lot of the villages that I visited both five years ago and on this trip (such as Kochkor and Kara-Koo) seem a lot more prosperous now, with more stores and cafes. According to PCV-A, Kara-Koo even has two billiards places. (Granted, Bar Bulak has only two tiny stores and no cafes, but I have no idea if there were any stores here five years ago or not. Also, while we have had the power go out several times since I’ve been here, it’s never been out for more than a few hours, never at night, and never more than once a week.)

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