Monday, October 13, 2014

Malik in Bishkek: Expat

Expat culture is something else. The community in Bishkek is very small, and it's surprising how quickly people connect. There are so few degrees of separation. For example, while waiting for our travel visas at the Kazakhstan consulate, we met a really nice guy from Nova Scotia who was in Bishkek with his family teaching at one of the international high schools. He was colleagues with one of the American friends we made on our hike in the Kegety Gorge the week prior, and also knew the kids of one of our colleagues at UCA. There was one other individual with us at the consulate, and we had met her while bowling the night prior! I think the language barrier makes meeting locals extremely difficult, and having not only the English familiarity but also shared experiences with expats is a catalyst for camaraderie.
Kyrgyz White House
Ala-Too Square
I know very little about the other areas in Bishkek outside the few blocks encompassing my apartment and the office. It was time to start exploring. Leaving my apartment with some good shoes and a charged camera, I started to wander the city. During my walk, I stumbled upon the massive Ala-Too Square. This square was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1984. Apparently there was a large statue of Lenin in the middle, however in 2003 it was replaced with the current statue, titled "Freedom." This square is the home of the Kyrgyz National Museum, a giant flag pole, and hosts many cultural concerts. Beautiful white marble buildings surround the square, including the Kyrgyz White House. Fountains line the gardens, and there were lots of people sitting on benches having picnics and enjoying the view. The Soviet influence on Kyrgyzstan was once again very striking. This gorgeous square was quite the contrast from the rubble and dirt I had passed by only a few blocks away.

Freedom statue
Fountains at Ala-Too Square
This week was the first time I didn't ask myself if being in Bishkek was really true. Every other week, I always at one point would think, "Wait, what? Where am I?" The day-to-day has started to become routine, and I think that helps. My evenings usually end up as follows: Monday - Russian tutor, Tuesday - Gym, Wednesday - Russian tutor, Thursday - Gym. Friday - Go out, Saturday/Sunday - Excursion/Hang out at Sierra cafe. Mixed into this routine is usually one extremely late night at the office that substitutes the gym, but those are harder to predict.
Late night strategy session
Construction outside the office

Random thoughts of the week:

  • The day before Canadian Thanksgiving, we wanted to have a nice turkey dinner. Chicken would have been okay too. We ended up having Chinese takeout. :P
  • At the gym (called Florida Fitness), a guy named Viktor came up to me and told me out of the blue that I needed to gain 15kg and eat Russian oatmeal and buckwheat every day. He's not wrong. 
  • We had our first snowfall on October 8th!
  • One evening, I came home to see the building door to my apartment ripped completely off. The hinges were totally smashed, and there was broken concrete all over the entrance. I was initially terrified, but found out later that they were in the process of installing a more secure electronic door and forgot to clean up.

No comments:

Post a Comment