a trip to Osh, part 2

(Part 1)

My lasting impression of Osh was drab. Grey, poorly heated, a bit dazed and confused. Most of this was because of the awful Siberian cold front that was rendering the entire country shivering and miserable. I tried searching for something remarkable during the barely two days that I was there, but it just didn’t happen.

Here’s the restaurant a friend suggested to us. The rooms are constructed out of plywood, glittery wallpaper, and vinyl siding. The heat isn’t turned on, the tea is bitter, and the music (Snoop Dogg and T-Pain) is too loud.

Here’s the center square that people don’t use as frequently anymore.

Here’s Sulayman’s Throne. When I told people I was going to Osh, they told me to see Sulayman’s Throne. Our interpreter asked what our plans were for the rest of our trip, “Will you go see Sulayman’s Throne?” We asked a friend about what there is to do in Osh, “You can go see Sulayman’s Throne.” Now that we’re back, people ask, “Did you see Sulayman’s Throne?”

Yup, there it is. I saw it. Then we went for drinks to a lounge shaped like a giant luxury yurt. Accessed by a tiny bridge, it was surrounded by a moat filled with trash and stale puddles.

There was tension. Is this building neglected like the ones I see in Bishkek or was it set ablaze during the “war”? This building looks fine except for the buckling, melted front door. Do international development organizations really tell their staff to watch out for Uzbek cab drivers?

I felt like I stuck out more in Osh than in Bishkek, or at least, people treated me like I stuck out. Kids followed us, one kept tapping Farrell with an open palm, asking for money. I hesitated sometimes to speak English in public because it almost always drew stares. I had to really dig deep for confidence to interact with cab drivers and waiters because my horrible, no-good, очен плохо Russian skills were useless when Kyrgyz is the default.

I think back to how frustrated and nervous I was when I first arrived in Bishkek and how it’s taken about seven months to get to where I am now (still a mess of a Russian speaker, but much less so than before). Going to Osh was like hitting “reset” on all of that; I was in Kyrgyzstan for the first time all over again and had no idea what to do. Everything was new, nothing was like I thought it would be. I tried to find meaning in little, meaningless moments, and I drank a whole lot of tea.

Melodrama aside, there was a rally on our second day, which was at least somewhat eventful for this story-seeker. Part 3 coming soon, and in the mean time I’m (slowly) uploading pictures to Flickr.