24 May 2008

Things I will miss about Bishkek, part 1

The daily calls to prayer, not from a minaret, but by the same man who walks through the green space in the back of my apartment building.

The produce seller who comes regularly to my apartment building and bawls into his bullhorn: “Kartoshka, markovka, luk” (potatoes, carrots, onions.). Up until today, he never altered his monotone, passion-less delivery, which is too loud and grating to ignore. However, yesterday afternoon the ol’ boy was almost singing, “Kartoshka, kartoshka, kartoshka-ah, kartoshka-ah-ah, kartoshka-ah-ah-ah!” Too much vodka, maybe.

Some absolutely stunning mountains, gorges and rivers, which are very accessible from Biskhek.

Learning something new about this region, its cultures and its history virtually every single day from my students, colleagues, and just by going about my everyday life.

The visual incongruence of a Kyrgyz professional man in a three-piece western suit topped with a kalpak, the teepee-shaped traditional hat made of white wool felt, and the opportunity to see how beautiful a woman can look in a headscarf.