New Week at Work

Working all week – feels natural again. Staying at home (figuratively) for the past few months was lovely in some aspects – Since my summers in high school I haven’t had such long days, such freedoms (within the limits of Bishkek) to do what I wanted or pursue projects that interested me. But Bishkek isn’t a grassroots, freelancer, small-but-innovative entrepreneur type of city, so (apart from the large informal economy) it’s hard to do too much on your own, simply because of the lack of resources, and the way that people here think about work. Big organizations get things done (or big-name-little-office organizations), and most people engage in projects through allegiance with one of those organizations. If they start out alone and do something new, they create an organization around it, something that grows over five, ten, twenty years. Being part of a big, established organizations means that you have a huge network of resources and opportunities at your fingertips, and every connection you make already carries some legitimacy.

Despite working in a big organization, we actually have a small team – three part-time employees, one split with another department, and another student worker. We have a big office with a conference table and comfy chairs by broad windows overlooking one of the main avenues in town. Well move into a new office (and building) in February, but for now sitting at a conference table across from each other is nice – makes it easy to pull chairs together and look at a document, or bounce ideas off each other as we work. And as our department is new, everything is possible. We are continuously creating our work, defining our responsibility and future and goals. We start with an idea, bounce it around, write down shared points, fill in the details, and create something solid. There are a thousand possibilities with what I’m doing now, a thousand thoughts taking form, a thousand things that could actualizing over time and become solid components of the culture here. All we need is a little momentum, and a thousand steps along the way, an idea time-accumulated will turn into an institution. Right now we’re still in the planning stages, and I have a lot of free reign to develop ideas, so it’s really fun for me.
The one thing I can’t get used to, however: waking up when the city is still cloaked in darkness, feeling like I’ve woken from a midnight dream while turning on the living room lights to get in my morning half-an-hour of exercise (for Kyrgyzstan doesn’t use daylight savings, so the sky is dark till eight). That and sitting so much, not being able to get up after an hour or two at the computer and do ten minutes of cardio or pilates. If I don’t take a walk during lunch, my legs actually ache. Balance, balance. Hard to do when the days are so short.


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