Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sink or Swim in the former Soviet Union

It’s just before dawn, a 13 hour time change has me lying wide awake, listening to the faint call from a nearby Mosque. Fajr, the first of five daily prayers in the Muslim faith. It is the only one of the five I hear from my apartment. Once daylight arrives, the streets grow into a gentle hum much like any other capital city. However, like a pesky sunburn yet to peel, Bishkek’s look remains much like its former Soviet days, drab and disconnected, unwilling or unable to shed its past. And as it happens- today, May 9th is celebrated as “Victory Day” here in Kyrgyzstan. A national holiday in remembrance of the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi German.

My building is the one with the nice mural

Seven stories high in a rather decrypt looking building is the view I will have during my stay in Bishkek. The apartment itself is surprisingly nice compared to the decaying exterior. Not long now and two more interns will join me in this 'guest house', happily abolishing the abundance of solitude that currently consumes this place.

Afternoon sun in the living room

Even with a healthy amount of travel under my belt I am humbled by the sensory over-load I have felt since arriving on Thursday. Although the majority of my co-workers (all of whom are from Kyrgyzstan) at the micro finance company speak English, learning to speak Russian is just one element at play in this experience. Couple all the usual stresses of being thrust into a foreign culture with the daily reminders of the violent overthrow of the government last month, and you start to realize you’re not in Kansas anymore and Toto’s been replaced by some sickly-looking stray dogs. The adventure has definitely begun.

Even doing wash is a strong reminder
I'm a long way from anything I've ever known


Lisa Myers said...

Great, great post. You have done a really exceptional job of conveying the mental journey from Spokane to Bishkek and from struggling to find your dream work to finding...something and not necessarily exactly what you had in mind. Enjoy every second of it - it seems that your very best experiences and joy comes when you are expecting little to nothing from where you are going and what you will be doing. Tabula rasa seems to work best for you, Myers.

Michael said...

Awesome Man! I can't believe you're in Bishkek!! I wish I were there with you man, the gadfly of adventure is buzzing around me! If only I could find a fly swatter!

Alexandra said...

For amazing as google translator is, it'd probably prove useless in your quest to do a load of laundry in Bishkek. Thanks for the posts and pictures Brad, they're always entertaining and inspiring. Hope you're doing great!

Tenshi Rising said...

As the night shifted from May 8 to May 9, 2010, I was stepping into a tub between my minute long contractions with just enough time to find a somewhat comfortable position to endure what would be, the next 2 hours of a drug-free labor. After many deep breaths and a few primitive earth shattering yells later, little Micah emerged into the warm water, still in HIS bag of waters, (google it! "born in the caul") and was soon placed into my arms...

I'D say it was a day of Victory!

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