Wednesday, January 04, 2012


January 3, 2012

Made it to Bishkek. Let me just say—it’s so, so, so nice to have someone pick you up from the airport. After a 24-hour travel experience, the absolute last thing you want to have to do is deal with the taxi drivers crowding around the doors of an airport. I would say that I’m never going to take another job where someone isn’t there to pick me up, but I know myself too well. After all, whatever happened to “I’ll never start a job where I have to move to a cold, Slavic, northern country in the middle of winter”? Yeah. See what I mean?

So now I’m in my room. Just got back from the supermarket. It’s half a block away from me—amazing. Pickings are slim (even with my nonexistent knowledge of either Russian or Kyrgyz, even I was able to discern a paucity of edible items—the store mainly consisting of aisles of Tupperware, dishes, laundry detergent, and soap (and entire aisle of soap, as a matter of fact). But I was able to pick up breakfast (and a couple of bananas, of all things) and toilet paper. So, I’m back in my room, noshing and typing.

But no tea. And therein lies my biggest concern to date. I have a room, a toilet, a bathtub, a refridgerator, and a small accumulation of pots and dishes. But no sink, no oven—in other words, no way to cook food or even boil water. This, in my opinion, is a problem. When I oh-so-delicately pointed out my situation to the academic manager who had come to pick me up from the airport, she seemed quite surprised, and thought that there was another room that may or may not have a stove in it. (Oddly enough, the missing sink didn’t register with me until after she had left. But as I have a working tub, it’s not an immediate concern of mine.) As for the potential stove, she promised she’d call and ask someone who may or may not be able to look for it today. And she left.

And then it came time to plug my laptop in and try the wi-fi access. (Yes, I know, the problems of the privileged). I looked at the walls of my room, searching for an outlet. I found one, right by the window. And… that was it. Just the one. Not even a double outlet, just a place for me to plug in one thing at a time. But what concerns me even more is what I noticed when I started looking at it a bit more closely. Turns out there’s a wire leading from the outlet to the window—and out of the window. Yes, ladies and gentlemen. My room does not actually have electricity. I have two wires, with electricity, leading into my room. One is connected to this outlet, apparently tacked to the wall but not connected to anything in the wall. The other wire? Just sort of hanging out, little pieces of metal wire coming out of the end.

Worst of all, the other new teacher who arrived on the same flight from Moscow was teaching in Libya before this, so I dare not complain about anything. ; )

My roommate in the Czech Republic, when asked what impressed her most about the Czechs, replied that it was their ability to shower without a shower curtain and not get water anywhere. I don’t have matching skills, so I’m expecting that my shower will create a bit of a mess.

Did I mention that there’s a 16 kg kettle ball in my room? It’s next to the small-ish pile of dishes.


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