How to Shower in a Bishkek Stalin Era Appartment When They Turn Off the Hot Water

Every May they turn off the hot water in all flat blocks in Bishkek for one month. Word is the reason is seasonal repairs. I believe the men in charge want their people to remain hardy. After all, the nomads on the summer pastures didn’t have running hot water either. Strangely enough, they seem to […]

Luftballons, falsche Panzer und ein deutsches Kriegslied – Tag des Sieges in Bischkek

Vom ZUM gehe ich die Straße zum Bischkeker Platz des Sieges hinunter. Es ist der 9. Mai. Mein erster richtiger Tag des Sieges in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion. “Ich möchte Panzer sehen!” sage ich zu meiner Begleiterin. Die Sonne strahlt. Die Straßen rund um das Denkmal mit der ewigen Flamme sind abgesperrt, nur der Gehweg ist […]

Sabyr Myrk! – An Annotated Collection of Kyrgyz Slang and Profanities

Inoffensive Slang зыңк [zyngk] – cool, nice, good. In Kazakh the word is зың [zyng] and is most famously used in the song “Зың, зың” about girls from Shymkent. “Zyngk” was the first slang I was told by a colleague: “You want to sound cool in Kyrgyz? Use this word!” таш [tasch] – strong, cool. Literally – “stone”. […]

The Resettlement of Bulgaria’s German Minority 1938-1944

This text is my master thesis defended at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in 2016. It has been published by the Bavarian State Library in 2017. Please find the full text (in German) here: The Resettlement of Bulgaria’s German Minority 1938-1944 In 1938 about 2000 ethnic Germans lived in what was then the Kingdom of […]

How to Get a Foreigner to Teach You English

Are you young, eager to learn English and live in Bishkek? Do you want to practice your English with one of the many foreigners coming in the summer or living here permanently? Here’s how to do it! Imagine you’re sitting in your mother’s kiosk one August afternoon and he walks in. A real chet-ölkölük! His sweaty blond […]

“My Second Wife is Independent” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #4

For the first time Yandex taxi makes me and my friend wait. Finally the driver comes, in a green Volkswagen Polo. He’s a middle aged man with fine features. He asks where we’re from, what we’re doing here and so on.  My friend is from Osh and it turns out he studied law at Osh […]

The Only White Man in Karakol Animal Market

“You should be wearing boots!” The driver looked at my hiking shoes. “Why?” “Because there is going to be shit up to here.” He touched my knee. “Shit and mud!“ No Mountains, Just Clouds I was going to the Sunday morning Karakol animal market, the “mal bazaar”. The guide books said it was one of […]

“They put me on the black list!” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #3

“No need, no need to put it. It’s broken and dirty!” he says when I try to fasten my seat belt in is battered red Mercedes. He is an old man and is voice is creaking. “I thought you were Indian!” he says. “There’s many Indians here now.“ “They study medicine, yes? I also work […]

“They have great Espresso in Moscow” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #2

He’s a young man and seems a little simple. He’s constantly checking his phone to look for the route and is holding it close to his face. “Are you English?” he asks, after about two minutes of driving. “I’m German. I teach German here, in KGUSTA.” I answer. “Oh. My cousin, she worked for the […]

Why Toilets in Kyrgyzstan are so Bad

Word in Bishkek is that houses built by Germans are the best. “The Germans know how to live!” is what some Kyrgyz believe. Most Germans left after the fall of the Soviet Union and the houses they left behind fetch high prices on the real estate market. “My cousin wanted to buy a German house, but […]