Every morning, I'm subjected to a gruelling interrogation about my health and happiness: how is your mood? Are you well? How was your evening? What did you have for breakfast? My grammar teacher fires these questions into the room like a machine gun, and I must ball together the cheese-parings that constitute my Russian vocabulary and answer her creatively. And after two weeks of lessons, instead of falling back on 'good' or 'bad' or 'normal' I'm now required to communicate finer shades of meaning: 'not bad' and 'terrible' and 'fantastic' and 'currant jam', for instance.
It's nice to be asked, even if only for academic purposes. There's an exodus of expats from Bishkek in the summer so apart from lessons no one's really enquiring after my wellbeing. Many of my colleagues and friends are back in their home countries, raising awareness and support and avoiding the baking temperatures here in Kyrgyzstan. I haven't had many real conversations in the last couple of weeks. The exception was last night, when I had dinner with a lovely family. He's English, she's Malay, and they have a very cute little son. It was splendid to be hosted and to play card games and chat; but the cumulative effect was one of acute homesickness, a malady which I've staved off so far. I shall continue to stave it off, I believe, but the idea of home - and the questions that are asked of me there - is increasingly being set on a pedestal.
Postscript: in the very minute that I hit 'publish post', an email arrived in my inbox with the title 'How are you?' (Which is kind of what 'Kak Dela?' means). It was from a friend in Osh who knows me well and asked all the right questions - so, I raised my hands to the heavens and thanked a providential father who knows what I need!