going to the vet

Mamajan has been acting up lately. Howling, scratching at the door, calling out to all of the gross strays that hang out behind our apartment. Depriving me and Farrell of our precious sleep.

So off I went, clutching a moaning Mamajan, to a veterinarian on the far side of town. So far, in fact, that there is another Beta Stores.

The lowest point of the trip was having my kitten handed back to me, completely stoned out of her mind and dressed up in a shabby romper (Kyrgyzstan’s answer to those plastic cones).

(That’s her dozing off next to the space heater)

The highlight of the trip was the sparkling conversation I had with the English-speaking doctor during Mama’s operation. A true lesson in close listening.

For instance, I told him I was from Pennsylvania:
“There are many people from Germany and Holland there, yes?”
“Yup.” (eh, it’s a not-so-well-known fact that Pennsylvania Dutch = Deutsch = Germans, so actual Dutch people aren’t really a big deal in my home state’s history)
“And there are many Mormons there?”
“Hmm, not really.”
“With the big bird.”
“The what?”
“You know? This is religion, with big bird.”
“Bird…uh. I don’t know.”
“No mustache.” *mustache gesture* “Just big bird, like ZZ Top.” *beard gesture*
“Ah! Okay, yeah. We call them Amish. Mormons are different. They’re in Utah.”
“Amish? In Russian we call them Мормона.” (not true, wikipedia says they called Amish, Амиши.)
“You are Amish?”
“You are not Amish?”
“Nope, they’re usually farmers, and they don’t use electricity.”
“Your grandparents are Amish?” (he actually said “grants”, I’m assuming he meant grandparents)
(I considered it.)
“They are not Amish.” (concerned look)

A local veterinary student came while I was there to interview the doctor (по-русски, of course). When he left, it sparked some nostalgia for the way things were in Soviet Kirghizia:
“Is there a veterinary school in Bishkek?”
“Yes, I taught there for three years.”
“Oh, cool.”
“The students. Some… they are so stupid!”
(worried look)
“One day I ask, as joke: two times another two.”
(more worried look)
“They didn’t know.”
“Yes! Some students, they come from willage, from countryside. There is no school. Just… grandfather, old person, teach the children what they know.”
(nostalgic look) “Back, during Soviet times, every child go to school. Must finish primary, must finish high school. And you go for free university.”
“Free? Really?”
“Yes. I receive every month… uh, not scholarship. Uh, what is word. I don’t know.”
“Da, stipend. 40 rubles per month [about $1.35 in today’s money] I receive to buy food. Education for free, books for free, uniform for free.”
“Very different now. Then, if you not working for three months, police come to your house: ‘Why you no working?’ Police in charge of this, neighbors in charge of this. Different now.”

Perhaps a long-lost love:
“Do you know, a person, retired now, worked at the Pentagon. Can I find email address for them?”
“Uhh… the Pentagon?”
“Yes, I try every search engine in English.”
“I…really don’t know…”
“I know her, it is woman, I know her from 10 years ago. I try to find her for 10 years.”
“Yes, I find basic information, but when I click for email it says ‘denny-ed’.” (denied)
“Oh, maybe it’s classified… or something… I really don’t know.”
“She was lieutenant colonel. I look for her email address for 10 years!” (uncomfortable chuckle)

And, finally! The typical Kyrgyz conversation fall-back:
“You have kids?”
“Why not?”
“I’m young, I want to wait a few years.”
“These days, people have all these ideas because they are young. But, you know, it is impossible when you are old. To get pregnant, impossible.”
“Well, one problem is that my apartment is the size of this room.” (it’s really small) “Once I move into a bigger apartment, I’ll fill it with kids.”
“In Bishkek?” (satisfied smile)

Dr. Polad, full of Soviet nostalgia and unrequited love.