De-boarding, Bishkek

We’re back in Bishkek, scattered, cleaning, recovering from a long night of blue lights and little sleep.

Every airplane is different.  When our Belgrade plane was late in Istanbul (apparently ‘something’ was found on it) there was patient, good-natured concern, a few people going up to the Turkish officers and asking what was happening, when we would finally get moving, how long we were going to stand packed like wilted sardines on the ground transit bus as the maritime rain pounded outside.  Then they would come back to the bus and report in babbling Serbian what they had understood from the officer’s broken English, and everybody would laugh at the absurdity of the situation and relax into patient resignation – knowing they would get there, somehow, and hurrying or fussing wasn’t going to help. Which remained pretty true to what I saw on the streets our whole week in Belgrade.

Flash forward ten days to our departure, again, from the Istanbul airport, this time to Bishkek on the ridiculously bad Pegasus Airlines.  Kids are running around the departure lounge screaming.  One squatted down and stared at my for a full five minutes while I ate a carrot while his brother hopped around mocking the toddler’s gaping face. There’s kind of a conglomeration of people in the general direction of the gate, some sitting, some standing, some looking like they might be leaning towards the general formation of a line. People pushing through clusters of other people. Baggage piled high or sprawled across the floor. In short, a very untidy (and not very conscientious) caravan before departure. The gates open and those in the general direction of the counter form a moving mob while a dozen others rush around a column squeezed by the wall to ‘short cut’ straight onto the ramp. Once on the plane people headed towards the back throw their bags into the overhead bins at the front. Deboarding – reverse of the same process. Kyrgyzstan is Kyrgyzstan.  If the nation has no desire to queue while on their own soil, then fine.  But in the already demanding and tiring space of airtravel this tendency might be better checked.  So, yes, a rather rude jolt to the fact that I’m once again back in the land where individuals are more concerned with immediate gain and don’t much trust their neighbor. Kyrgyzstan – it’s still hard to see how it’s going to develop, without a strong central state, without a sense of public trust [or trust of public officials], and without a really good sense of their [possibility of] integration into the larger world.

So…back in our own flat in our strange Korean apartment complex, a parking-lot-and-modern-flats oasis in a sea of dust and construction on the edge of the city.  Apparently there was a mix up with our electricity bills – we’d been getting montly bills for zero com for the longest time, which made them quite hard to pay.  As we hadn’t paid though (a total of $11 in 6 months) the company cut our electricity while we were gone. We came home to a dark house…and liquefied meat in the freezer (along with all the summer fruits and greens I’d thought to save to winter).

After I’d eradicated the smell and slime – it felt nice to be back in our own flat.  We had thought about moving all summer, just because the complex can feel so cut off from the rest of the city and the nearby construction means our flat is always full of noise and dust.  But it’s quite convenient if I’m taking classes (or if I actually get the job I applied for), and it’s cosy in winter – sunlight on three sides in nice and, despite what happened while we were gone, electric and other cuts are a rarity in this segment of town.  If we move in winter then we have to worry about gas and heating and hot water and leaks and power cuts and uninvited police or solicitations or – the list goes on.

Upon seeing our flat in morning light I did realize one thing though – our flat is messy.  Not by American standards – we do have a  cleaner come once a week to keep it from all going to shambles – but after staying in a female-dominated Turkish household for a month it does not meet standards, at all.  Because Turkish households are spotless, even if every adult family member is working and there are two toddlers running around constantly opening cupboards and scattering everything across the floor.  I could eat off of Turkish apartment floors – not that anyone would ever let me touch even  a dropped apple without cleaning and rinsing and patting dry.  I don’t think living in a spotless environment is critical to either of us – not given the time investment it requires, but we’ll try to keep our flat a bit better organized too))

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