another friday night

Carl finished speaking with the cab driver and hesitated a moment before he told us, “He said this street ends here,” where we’re standing, “and starts again over there,” across the highway and behind the railway tracks.

It was dark, it was cold, it was muddy, and I had no idea what we were looking for anyway.

It started with Farrell and Carl (one half of the Belgians) convincing me that I should abandon my cozy spot on the couch and my to-do list of photo editing and Korean dramas to go to an event. What sort of event? “I don’t really know. It’s media stuff, photography… just come!”

Oh fine. So we get in a cab and drive to a part of town I’d never seen before. We’re closer to the smoke stacks I always see off in the distance and the whole neighborhood has an industrial feel about it. Then we stop in front of a building off of a highway. There are a few people around, but I could immediately tell there was no fancy media event here.

Carl bravely uses his Russian skills to ask for directions to 3 Litovskaya. We stop in a small corner shop; this is Litovskaya Street, right? Yes, what are you looking for? 3 Litovskaya.

No! This is 120. I sigh as I look down the long, unlit street, currently submerged in one single, giant puddle.

The people in the store laugh at us; we’re on a street made of mud and we’re asking where a museum is (because none of us actually knew what sort of event or building we were looking for). So we wander up and down the highway. We reach one dead end. We reach another dead end. It’s darker. It’s colder. We call a friend attempting to find the same event and realize we’re all completely lost, even when we all end up on the same incorrect street.

Between three taxis and a driver calling someone at the event (who hands the phone to someone, who hands it to someone else), it’s finally discovered that there’s not one, not two, but three sections of the same street that are strewn about this neighborhood. Problem solved and we arrive at the event (fashionably?) 1 1/2 hours late. We meet a friend of a friend outside, who rushes us inside repeating, “You’ve missed everything, but you can still see it. You’ve missed everything!”

I eventually figure out that it was a grand opening party for a warehouse that had been converted into funky, artsy office and studio spaces for various hip companies (including media companies, photographers, artists, etc). It was completely overwhelming to have gone through the whole ordeal with finding the dang place without having any idea of what was in store, and being toured through each office to see things like this:

I felt rushed and cynical when I first arrived, but I eventually warmed up to the idea that I was finally discovering a deeper side to Bishkek. Like, okay, this is where the hipsters hang out. And just my (strange) luck, one of them recognized me from Facebook.

Now if I can only pick up some better Russian, she said she’ll show me where to get 120 film.

Farrell and Carl even tried to hunt down someone in charge to figure out if all of the offices were rented or if we could snag one for Oxus International/Greenbridge(/thecoolestphotostudioeverforme)

Sadly, none are available and they’re on a five-year lease. Guess I’ll have to stick around for five years to get my dream studio space in Bishkek.

We left the party after only a half hour. I was fully satisfied with the people I met and the things I saw in such a short time, even considering the effort to get there. We capped off the night with Chinese food and watching BBC for news on Mubarak. Just another Friday night in Bishkek.