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 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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]