Monday, May 27, 2013

Today's Poem

J, an enterprising eighth grader, composed this haiku on my board in his spare time today, largely inspired by Romeo and Juliet:

Miss K-pat has thumbs -
Do you bite your thumb at me?
Yeah, uh, I guess so.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I'm getting quite a lot of search hits for "mastercard atm bishkek" so I thought I would post something useful about this topic.

The only bank in Bishkek from which you can withdraw cash on a Mastercard is KazKom (Казкоммерцбанк), the Kazakh bank here. There are several ATMs in the following locations:

1. Tzum, on the outside of the building facing Chui. There's also one inside, on the first floor, at the very back.

2. The main KazKom branch is on the corner of Sovietskaya and Bokonbaeva. There are several ATMs there, and some of the staff speak English.

3. Dordoi Plaza. First floor, central aisle, there are a couple of ATMs. One is KazKom.

4. Along Chui, headed west, just past Ala-Too Square, there is a very small machine in a wall. You have to look closely to see that it's KazKom. It's before all the travel agencies.

There may be other locations, but I've never found them. It took several months for me to accumulate all that knowledge, and I hope that it may prove useful to someone, somewhere! Generally, I wouldn't advise travelling in Central Asia with a Mastercard. Visa is much more widespread here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Enjoyment in His Toil

Our staff meeting this afternoon was conducted to a chorus of birds and accompanied by a pleasant breeze. These verses were read to open proceedings:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment?
- Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

The meeting was about looking to next year (since there is less than a month left of this one, and the new one starts in August) and asking some good questions about 'wellness;' what we can do better to ensure our health and energy and joy - to find enjoyment in our toil - since the last six months have sapped a little from all of us. It was reviving to be in that room, full of sunlight and a lot of fascinating, intent people, weaving together a vision of the year to come and thinking about the joy there will be and considering the hand of God in everything.

Every contemplation of a new working year should start with these verses, I believe.

Smoke - George MacDonald

Today, I'm sharing this poem by the old master, George MacDonald. I found it on Ali's blog (which sometimes seems like a collection of good things curated especially for me - thanks Ali). This is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit moving in a cold heart - God's grace and giving is limitless. The imagery of spluttering smoke and lightning has stayed with me.


Lord, I have laid my heart upon thy altar
But cannot get the wood to burn;
It hardly flares ere it begins to falter
And to the dark return.

Old sap, or night-fallen dew, makes damp the fuel;
In vain my breath would flame provoke;
Yet see—at every poor attempt's renewal
To thee ascends the smoke!

'Tis all I have—smoke, failure, foiled endeavour,
Coldness and doubt and palsied lack:
Such as I have I send thee!—perfect Giver,
Send thou thy lightning back.

- George MacDonald