Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Evening Postcard

Since reentering Bishkek and moving to Vostok Pyat, I've noticed changes in this city: the call to prayer is more frequent, the number of bearded, hatted and robed men (and covered women) has increased, and there is more movement around mosques. 

I was wondering if this was all in my head until a colleague made the same observation.

What happened over the summer? I'm not sure, but this article has some interesting comments about the recent growth of Islam in Central Asia.

Anyway, it's 7:20 PM, and the call to evening prayer is floating through our courtyard, mixing with the shouts of children and Russian pop music. E and I just got back from a visit to the Domkom: the Domkom is a socialist relic, the appointed building official to whom we pay our stairwell cleaning fees and who resolves issues between comrades in the complex. Every building has a Domkom. Ours is on duty between 6-7 PM every Tuesday and Thursday. She has commandeered a tiny little bunker in the basement, painted the walls pink, and sits there stamping documents and swapping neighbourly gossip. We went to introduce ourselves and explain that we speak "chut-chut" Russian. It was like stepping back in history - I'm pretty sure the setup was the same in Soviet times! I love moments like that, stepping into a different culture and era. It happens from time to time.

Anyway, we're back. There's a pile of test papers on the coffee table. Our dinner guests, fellow teachers who live nearby, have left - we keep early hours around here. We ate hamburgers (or a close approximation) and strawberry tarts. I'm building up to grading the papers, but first there is a cup of tea to make and some more procrastination to enact.

That said - I'm enjoying my classes. Teaching geography is a challenge, and so is teaching the Westminster confession to middle schoolers, but the English classes are a pleasure, and so is my homeroom. I'm teaching ESL to small group of Korean high schoolers; there are two staff meetings a week; I'm helping with the SRC once a week; in October, I'm starting a weekly English conversation club with the local school across the road. There's the school play to think about, the service trips, the monthly visits to the orphanage for disabled children.

Life is full - that's one way to look at it.

Did I mention that I'm getting a root canal tomorrow? I found an American-trained dentist: she doesn't speak any English, but she is very good. I don't know what to expect, really, but it might mean a couple of days away from school, which is not altogether a bad thing, since I don't think I've had actual consecutive days of rest since - well, I can't remember.

Using a root canal as an excuse to rest - yes, I hear the crazy.

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