Never take things for granted.

We take things for granted believing because we think we’ll see that person the next time or things will always be the same. I had opportunities to do things with him over the past year and passed on…


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I haven’t done the best job of showing what my own life is like here! A few sights from close to home: the street I live on, with a university building on the left and my “Stalinka” (building from the Stalin era) on the right. I’m behind the city’s Philharmonic Hall (convenient since I just need to exclaim “Philarmonia!” when entering a cab), which is an impressive piece of Soviet Constructivist architecture with some Kyrgyz design elements incorporated. At bottom left, the new Asia Mall, where I rarely shop since the prices are more or less the same as in the West. And Ryzhka, the neighbor’s dog, who faithfully guards the building and thinks I live in her house.
The perpetual snowfall has also changed things — and hitting me with a healthy dose of nostalgia. Bishkek doesn’t hunker down for the winter, it just changes pace. From the first dusting: Maxim Gorky, a ballet studio, the local art market, birdhouses outside the National Opera, another Khrushchevka, and the city’s largest mosque (very soon to be upstaged by the nearby Turkish Blue Mosque copy).
Thanksgiving Dinner I hosted for my students after finding out the American Studies majors didn’t know any American cuisine beyond fast food. That’s rough! Our heritage is in our soup pots. It was my first crack at most of these, since I spend Thanksgivings in the States trying to learn Slavic dishes. Two of the other Fulbrighters, Toby and Magda (to my immediate right and left, respectively), came to help.
Alamedin Gorge, where I went with the Trekking Union of Kyrgyzstan (TUK). The TUK is a community-based tourism organization that sponsors several trips a week, across the country but also within a short drive of Bishkek. This gorge was a blast, and it isn’t even the most popular one outside the city.
My Dad frequently travels to Moscow for work, and this time found some time on his hands — so he flew down to visit me! We made my first trip to Ala-Archa National Park, at which point the snow picked up. At bottom, a local squirrel.
We also went to Dordoi, the massive shipping container city north of Bishkek that functions as a very complete bazaar. These were the only two lanes empty enough that I had time to stop and get a picture. Let me know if you want me to look for anything for you on the cheap.

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