Saturday, August 21, 2010

bye bye Bishkek

It had the feel of my first night in Kyrgyzstan -now nearly four months ago- I was wide awake, staring at the ceiling, listening to the same faint call to prayer from a nearby mosque which complimented the pale blue pre-dawn light that seeped through the curtains. I'm down to my final days in Bishkek and sleeping just about as well as when I arrived, hyped-up on a crazy, emotional concoction of anxiety and excitement, only I can't blame it on the jet-leg this time.
Always a sucker for a metaphor, I like to think this is a photo of two brothers riding out of Bishkek, Anxiety and Excitement. Although admittedly, one is hard pressed to decide which one is Excitement.
There is a synaptic storm of anxiety swirling in my head as the end nears. A flood of thoughts about packing, logistics, final farewells, self-induced performance reviews and endless variations of these concerns prefer to be pondered before dawn. Sandwiched somewhere in between the worries are fits of excitement about what I have learned, friends I have made, and the collection of cherished memories I will take from this forgotten pocket of Central Asia.

Kyrgyzstan provided a complex backdrop to this fascinating profession of humanitarian work, an invaluable experience that captured the human condition from all angles. I arrived shortly after the violent over-throw of Bakiyev's presidency, a reign of recklessness which is increasingly being labeled as one of the most corrupt Kyrgyz governments since its independence was declared after the fall of the Soviet Union. An unsettling series of house arrest weekends ensued, holed-up in the apartment due to threats of renewed violence. Then ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan broke out in June. This sparked an impromptu week-long relocation to a mountain retreat, the logic being that if the violence spread north Mercy Corps would have their foreign staff members huddled together in a safe house, expediting the evacuation process. After a few tense weeks the dust settled (more or less) and management decided it was safe to fly the interns down to Osh for a quick trip to assist with the monitoring and evaluation of Mercy Corps' recovery effort.

And now, a few weeks later, in the early morning light, in an apartment which never seems to let go of the summer heat, I'm sweating out this final post about an internship which has been eventful in every sense of the word. As for the fate of this blog, fear not my devoted reader(s) I'll still be sending notes from the field, but not before relinquishing a half-dozen timezones.

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