I love Bishkek. It’s like this oasis of awesome modernity in the middle of nowhere.
Sure, you might immediately catch glimpses of Kyrgyz people riding horses and donkeys on the side of the road as soon as you get outside of the major city.
But, in Bishkek, life is somewhat classy. Classy coffee joints have sprung up, people dress in nicer clothes, and more cars are on the streets. I’ve dined at probably a better pizza place than what I might find in Australia, and there is wifi (albeit painfully slow) at many establishments.
Still, nothing spins me out more than taking a taxi and having some good, forced conversation. Yep, these rides have a way of taking me from feeling good to feeling bad, and from feeling like I’m in a modern location to one with mixed views still lingering in the past. It’s an intriguing mix!
Here are some of the experiences I’ve had thus far:
Yay! I’m Young
So, in 3 separate car rides, I’ve been asked flat out my age as it is a normal question in these parts. Some of the ages that have been thrown out by my driving companions have been 23, 21 and 20! Hooray!
Boo, I’m Really Old
Ah, but in reality, I’m 28 years old — a rather old bird in these parts. Sure, their shock and disbelief at my real age makes me feel good, but the questions that follow are always difficult to deal with.
Your Life is Over
The progression seems to go a little something like the following:
Are you married?
No, but I have a boyfriend.
Is he here?
No, he’s in Australia.
(Obviously him not being here basically means I’m single.)
Do you have kids?
No. Definitely not.
(I watch as confusion, shock and more confusion rolls across his face.)
So, you’re 28, not married and with no kids?!
(Disbelief as I tell him it is normal.)
In Kyrgyzstan, at 28 your life is… your life is…
I watched as one of my taxi drivers actually made the gesture — the swiping motion through the air to signify an end; over.
Seriously, I must have something wrong with me to be without hubby and child at this juncture.
And to this, I decide to tell them all something that completely blows their minds: I’ll do that when I’m 35.