my neighborhood

February 19, 2013

 

When I’m not at the workshop, and I’m not tucked into the apartment, I’ve taken to walking.

When I first arrived Farzana and family didn’t really want me going out on my own- I had to take a deep breath and realize that I was now in her care and understandably she felt responsible for my safety in this new country- but the thought of being stuck inside all winter in the company of TV’s and computer screens started to make me feel very claustrophobic!

As it turns out, of all the Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan (especially here in the North) is known as being very friendly to foreigners.

And I’ve found everybody just minds their own business- no ones says hi to each other as they walk by, and I just look away like everybody else and act like I have something important to do.  Even the dogs, which there are many roaming the streets (and I was more worried about them than the people)  tend to mind their own business. I actually feel quite lucky, of all the places to live in Bishkek, Tunguch district is on the edge of town, close to the mountains, and there is one road I like to walk in the mornings that heads south out of Tunguch and I have found it’s a nice place to catch my breath, listen to wind and the birds and slow down enough to give some thanks for this place and this experience.

walking south towards the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

walking south towards the Kyrgyz Ala-Too

 

taking a break with the cows

taking a break with the cows

 

looking north towards Tunguch

looking north towards Tunguch

 

pretty in pink

pretty in pink

 

walking around Tunguch

walking around Tunguch

 

more Tunguch

more Tunguch

 

and more Tunguch

and more Tunguch

As I mentioned in a previous blog this is a Soviet era apartment block, which I mistakenly said had 20 or so apartment buildings-  it’s more like 75!   One of the things I have come to love is the random use of paint on apartment buildings all over town.  Greens and teals and pinks and turquoise covering the walls and windows and doors of these very blocky and what would otherwise be unfriendly looking buildings.

 

Next with the felt-making is learning to cut, and possibly draw, ornaments. (Their name for the traditional designs they use on the scarves and rugs.)  I thankfully graduated out of making pre-felt (it was good learning, but boy was it tedious at times!) and am now confident I can make pre-felt to be proud of (which has opened up a whole new world of design and possibility for me.) Farzana also makes incredible pictures, some dresses and coats, vests and bags and time will tell whether or not we dive into any of those together.  I am so overwhelmed with the generosity of her teaching and am grateful for whatever she feels up for showing me in this last month.

Oh, and don’t believe the pictures with snow in them- I took those a few weeks ago and since then it has been quite warm at times and all the snow has melted.  I figured for sure the mountains of Central Asia would be colder and snowier than Duluth- but I was wrong!

And the other exciting piece of news- I’m discovering I can now read Cyrillic, mostly. There are still a few small mysteries, and just because I can sound out the word doesn’t mean I know what in the heck I’m saying- but I will never forget when I first bought my Kyrgyz/English dictionary in anticipation of hosting Farzana and Daniko in New Mexico during a workshop they were teaching, and I opened the book to look up a few words of greeting, only to find I couldn’t read a thing!  It’s nice to remember that all these small, daily efforts really do accumulate into new found possibilities and skills.

 

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