Just a quick note from Osh. Left Bishkek and Issyk Kul hotel on Thursday. The night before we left, President Askar Akaev celebrated his birthday in our hotel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to seem him, but we did see plenty of armed guards. The twelve hour taxi ride certainly was interesting—an eagle, mythical in size, nearly flew off with our taxi in it's talons.
WHERE I'll LIVE
When I come to Osh in December, I will be living with an ethnic Kyrgyz Family, in a village just outside of the city. My host brother studies International Diplomacy at Osh State University and two of my three sisters are doctors. The oldest son is police detective. My father is the director of the movie theatres (apparently there are two) and my mother works for the department of education. We have a few sheep, a dog with 5 puppies, and a sick boy (just a cold) who is staying with us--I still don't know who he belongs too.
WHERE I'll WORK.
The Human Rights and Democracy Center is an amazing organization—they work hard and play hard, as was evidenced by our busy day on Friday followed by mountains of food, billiards and beer. We are located in the center of the city on a beautiful street (see address below). Feel free to check our website at www.legal.kg
I'll be working alongside a very ambitious group of young attorneys, and I believe we'll learn a lot from one another.
All mail should now be sent to:
Public Foundation Human Rights and Democracy Center
714000 Kurmanjan – Datka str. 209,
Osh city, Kyrgyz Republic
Tel/fax. (+996 3222) 24438
(Written November 7 in Ivanovka)
One of the most important indicators of one’s adaptation to a new culture is the failure to see the contrasts and juxtapositions inherent in everyday life. Before I begin to forget the things that I find foreign and extraordinary, I decided to document some of them. Here are a few things I’ve noticed in the two months that I’ve lived in Kyrgyzstan:
Mercedes and Audis parked next to donkey carts.
Skinned horse legs, hooves and all, for sale at the local bazaar.
Manholes (remnants of soviet infrastructure) in the middle of the streets, without any covers over them.
Viewing an early 80s television while it advertises LG® Flat-screen Russian TVs.
New Mosques (being built with United Arab Emirates cash) prominently positioned on busy corners in nearly every village and city—I’ve coined the term McMosque, not to be culturally insensitive, but, rather, to connote their uniform appearance, abundance and purpose in Kyrgyz pop-culture.
Eggs, grain and vegetables being sold next to black-market audio-tapes, CDs and Adidas.
Cleaning detergents with not-so-clean names as BARF and MUFF
Push-pop children’s candy called Nipple-Sticks, which, oddly enough, have one end shaped like a nipple.
Internet cafes, where children can be found, all times of the day, playing such educational games as Grand Theft Auto III and Counter-Strike.
Scantily dressed Russian women discussing child rearing with conservatively dressed Uzbek women.
A discothèque with outdoor speakers—noisily drowning out the evening “call-to-prayer” which soulfully resonates from the McMosque across the street.
An Opera house and a 5-star Hyatt hotel in a “third world country”.
Homemade Vodka being sold more cheaply than water.
Coal trucks loaded with scrap metal (remember the missing manhole covers?) bound for china, where the refuse it will be melted down, re-manufactured and exported back to Kyrgyzstan to be re-sold at the bazaar.
Muslim men consuming copious amounts of Vodka in order to make it through Ramadan
A children’s mental institution with wall paper depicting werewolves and deranged bears standing over severed heads (no joke—this was one of the most disturbing decorating jobs I’ve ever seen).
The belief that television hypnotists can get into your mind and actually kill you while you watch them…yet people still watch.
The local Red Cross, which for obvious religious reasons is emblematically represented by a Red Crescent.
Statues of Lenin in cities where all of the Russians have left.
That’s all for now. Take care,