Been a while since I wrote anything strictly about Central Asia, today is the DAY! While teaching in Almaty it was brought to my attention by a fellow American teacher that our Kazakh students over-used the word “nowadays.” He was tired of it and suggested other words that could be used instead. That didn’t bother me as much as “to my mind” which really was our way of saying, “I think” or longer version of “To my way of thinking.” Fortunately I never heard my Russian speaking Kazakh students refer to their body as an “organism.” That used to really bother me while teaching in Ukraine but I think their post-Soviet English teachers must have cleared that vocabulary word up right away.
I get a little bit nostalgic for the things my Kazakh or Ukrainian students used to write and so I am including a few proverbs from some Central Asian students which applies to their culture of Uzbekistan. I have often remarked to my husband that we could always go to Mongolia to teach. He surprises me lately when he actually takes me seriously. My pining for things foreign again is perhaps similar to the kid’s book titled “Alexander’s no good, horrible, bad day” where Alexander thinks moving to Australia will solve all his problems. If only I had visited Samarkand and Bukara in Uzbekistan when I had the chance with my Russian friend Tatyana who wanted to bring me there nearly 20 years ago. I knew Tatyana back when I was a Peace Corps trainer in Almaty the summer of 1993. I should have taken her up on it because I believe Uzbekistan is closed off to Americans for now.
Anyway, doing a bit of reading up on the Uzbek culture I see they have similar attributes to that of Kazakhstan (small wonder since they are neighbors and come from the same gene pool). Here are a few of the proverbs that seem to run counter to their governmental policies of keeping American tourists out. I know Americans can get in, but from descriptions I have heard from fellow American travelers, it is NOT easy.
“A guest is as honorable as a father.”
“Hospitality is above enmity.”
“Seven neighbors are the parents of one child.”
“When guests come to one’s home, that family is full of abundance and luck.”
Finally, I’ll end with an Arabic proverb “Time is like a sword. If you don’t cut, it cuts you.” I think it means to use your valuable time wisely in pursuit of useful activities.
“Nowadays,” I am trying to use my time wisely as I feel “grounded” in a good way in the U.S. My husband and I continue to wait our summons on where our next job will be. Stay in the U.S. or return to Central Asia (or even Mongolia). Believe it or not, I actually miss seeing my students’ papers that read “to my mind.” Soon they will have such good English that all of those Russian translation carry-overs will disappear forever.