Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Food Safari

This blog went to pot. Did you notice?

There are two reasons:
1. apathy
2. fear and loathing of my own sentences.

Apathy, fear, and loathing are strong words, and I want you to know that in my other pursuits (those not related to sentence-making) I have been experiencing quite a lot of joy and growth.

When summer comes to Bishkek, you can predict the arrival of certain fruits on the street, almost to the day. First come the cherries, mountains of them, crimson-black. They last the longest. Then come the raspberries, sold by the banka (a glass jar that holds about a litre). The strawberries are intermittent. I have gotten in the habit of mixing them with a little balsamic vinegar (from the European Shop) and sugar, marinating them for a bit, then smashing them into some little meringues (from the Turkish Shop) and ice-cream. It's quite something. (What the British call a Fool, I think?) Anyway, the stone fruits come - lovely nectarines and peaches - followed by watermelons and long yellow melons. I avoid those, because I was told they're coaxed into early ripeness with chemicals, and I definitely got sick the last time I ate some.

A kilo of strawberries is about $1.30, by the way.

In the middle of summer, I missed about two weeks of fruity pursuit, because I was in Malaysia for conference purposes. Seven days in Kuala Lumpur, then four nights in George Town, Penang. The first at a semi-swanky hotel, the second in a beautiful guesthouse. The first with forty like-minded workers from all over the world, the second by myself. The first with three buffet meals a day, the second with authentic local food about which I could write a thousand words. Both experiences were life-giving, and I have come back to Bishkek revitalised and rested.

I'm looking forward to having my community back. They're mostly out of the country right now, but trickling back in slowly. For an introvert, this is a dangerous situation: unless I make a huge effort, I could easily go three or four days without having a conversation. I know myself well enough, now, to know that this is very bad for me, so I've been making the aforementioned huge effort to spend time with people. And of course, I'm always glad when I do.

Tomorrow is Saturday. I will go to home church, which I love. Then I have a two-hour dentist appointment, which will hopefully be the last in a long line of appointments to fix a tiresome root canal gone wrong (there's a whole story here about local dentistry that I won't bore you with - you can just imagine the horrors that have been). After that, some of my students are playing soccer at a local field, so I thought I might go watch. I haven't seen them for weeks, and a couple of them are leaving for college in America and Korea soon.

I love these kids. Which is just as well, since getting them into colleges is the reason I've lived in a developing country for 3.5 years, and will do so for at least one year more.


  1. Cheap strawberries and root canal work! Hardly a welcome combination. I hope that latter does not preclude you enjoying the former.

    BTW: Welcome back to blogdom! I enjoy reading your posts and was wondering where you had gone. I hope that this post signals a renewed commitment to countering the crippling effects of apathy, fear, and loathing.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement! Time will tell :)