“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 […]

“They are Rude to Foreigners” – Bishkek Taxi Driver Talks #1

He’s a young man with a baseball cap and a few hairs on his chin. He first asks how long the three of us have been here. “Two years, eight months and two months,” we say. “We have many bad road and many traffic jams here.” “Yes it’s bad”, I say. “The city isn’t build […]

“Christ has Risen!” Orthodox Easter Mass in Karakol

It was shortly after 11 PM when we arrived at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Karakol. It was the Saturday of Christian Orthodox Easter and we wanted to see the Easter Mass. Neither my friend nor me are Orthodox so we were a little nervous about if we would be allowed to attend.

Hunting for Health in Karakol

On our first morning in Karakol we had to find medial care for my friend. “Let’s tell him ‘Take us  to your finest hospital!‘” I joked as we walked to the taxi. It was April 7th, a holiday commemorating the 2010 revolution. As we walked to the first clinic, a private hospital, we saw there was a ceremony […]

Yssyk-Kul Southside – Knifes, Drunks, Dragons (Also Horses and Yurts)

 As I sat in the marshroutka the man behind me grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back. “I speak English!” he moaned. His black hair was unkept and from his wrinkled face came the sweet stench of alcohol.  Later he tapped my shoulder and I saw him cutting an apple with a knife. Having a […]

Kochkor and Back

The taxi driver was from Kochkor. When we almost reached Bishkek’s Western Bus Station he concluded our conversation by stating we would be good friends. In summer he would show me around Kochkor and Naryn, drink Kymys with his shepherd cousins and shoot some animal I didn’t know. “Kaif, bljad!” He used the word bljad […]

You a Spy or What?!

Before leaving for Kyrgyzstan I attended a meeting with other teachers my organization intended to send to the four corners of the world to spread our glorious language. Alumni of the program came to share their experiences. A woman who had spent a year in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, impressed me most: “Towards the end, after I […]

Kafka Studied in Bishkek

I teach German at a university in Bishkek and I can never predict what a day at the uni is going to be like. Is today a public holiday but nobody told me? Do the students have exams and my class is cancelled? How many students will show up for class? Two or twelve? Will […]