Letter dated November 2, 1993 – Kyrgyzstan

Read my three prior blog posts and you will understand that I wrote these pieces 17 years ago about my time in Central Asia when things were changing very quickly from the time of the former Soviet Union.  I really loved living in Kyrgyzstan!!!!

November 2, 1993

There is SO much to be thankful for (as my dear Norwegian grandma would sing song regularly) in the one month that I have been in Bishkek.  I have a really spacious apartment which looks out to the mountains from both my east and west windows.  I am able to see beautiful sunsets. It is nice to have this place since I plan to do a lot of entertaining as I have already been doing.

However, time spent in the kitchen is more than comical since I have been forced to made do without a lot of the necessary utensils we all take for granted.  Things like measuring cups and spoons, potholders, pie tins, Tupperware, baking powder, brown sugar, oatmeal…the list could go on and on.

I am very thankful for a fridge that works as well as a stove with four gas burners and an oven.  The challenge for all of us foreigners is to cook or bake as close to American food as possible with whatever materials you can find at the Osh bazaar.  Just buying meat with carcasses and heads of sheep, pig and horse hanging off hooks while birds are flying overhead is a sight to behold.

Well, to change the subject…there are six other American teachers at my university in Bishkek.  I am looking forward to have my three different phonetics classes come to my apartment in December for an American-style Christmas party.  Each class has about ten students in each room and we meet once a week.  It has been a joy to teach them American pronunciation.

I will be leaving for the States on December 18 so I can meet some of Ken’s friends in Washington DC.  A quick one week tour of the States, but I think worth it since our relationship has developed into something more than “just friends.”  Ken proposed marriage on Oct. 16th and I have not given him a “yes” answer (yet).  I have been an independent single for 38 years and it will be a major adjustment to be married.  However, the more I’m getting to know Ken and the more he treats me like a queen, the more I look forward to marriage (if I decide “yes”).

For now, my goal for these next 9 months is to be the best teacher I can be to my 30 plus students and also to learn Russian. We (four other English teachers) have two hour language classes most every day.  It is a struggle for me to be disciplined enough to study in the afternoons what I learn in the mornings.  The grammar is so difficult but I have to say that it is easier than learning Chinese.

My relationship with Camilla has improved, she seems to be treating me well.  However, she is very disorganized as a dean and  has managed to get the ire up of all the other American teachers at her school.  We are all trying to work out smooth communication despite the clash of teaching styles and methodologies that necessarily happen when Americans meet up with rigid Soviet-style methods.

Thankfully my e-mail has been up and running.  It is not always reliable because of bad phone lines but it is better than the mail service which is routed through Moscow and ends up at the top of a heap of other undelivered mail. Who said this is an exciting time for the former republics?  There is a lot of desperation and near panic due to the unstable economy.

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