Bishkek Flatlands

Today I’m sitting with my coffee and it’s a rainy day in Bishkek. Hammers at construction across the street and the humm or morning traffic muffle through the window. From our apartment perch the city stretches on grey. Distant mountains hide in the haze of April drizzle.

Our old apartment just faced south, and our only view was of the majestic sun-touched mountains peeking between two buildings opposite. We were sheltered from the rest of the city. Here we get sunrise and sunset, bulbous bloodpink sun floating in fluorescent orange clouds above the endless suburbs.

In some ways our current view, stretching East to West and with a window South, is more depressing. I can see the southern mountains from every window, at every angle they afford. We may see even the mountains by Almaty on a clear day. But the whole city lies bare before us, flat and unpromising. Brown twigs scraggle into the sky among a mismatch of short houses, confused muddy streets, and untidy new construction. A few old soviet buildings loom in the distance along with a strange half-built blue dome further down Axunbaeva. But that’s it. The city’s promise ends there.

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