“We gaan je oren afsnijden!” – Vertrek uit Dushanbe

Het is kwart voor zes, ik ben op weg naar de plek waar jeeps naar Khorog vertrekken. De hostel eigenaar heeft gezegd dat ik een Landcruiser moet pakken, dan duurt de reis 12 uur. Anders langer. De straten van Dushanbe zijn nog bijna leeg. De is nog maar net opgegaan maar het is al warm. […]

Apricots, Aryks but no Arpa – A Day in Batken

When travelling by plane, mind and body don’t get the chance to make a natural transition to the new environment. The transition is very sudden. On the other hand, the transition already starts at the airport, when one joins the group of fellow travellers waiting for the check in. This morning I made such a […]

Vladivostok To Batken – Imam’s Story

After I had taken my seat on a flight from Bishkek to Batken, a tall Kyrgyz man sat next to me, immediatley shook my hand and introduced himself as Imam. He told me he had been in Bishkek to see off his nephew who had to Johannesburg to study Islamic theology. Before, he had studied […]

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 […]