Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Friday, October 01, 2004

Beware of exploding light bulbs!

I was in my room the other night studying my Russian like a good PCT (Peace Corps Tainee) and POP!—just like a champagne cork, my light bulb ejected from its socket and fell through the sour sock smell of my room’s atmosphere (right passed my head) and landed on the rug below. The glass portion of this miniature Sputnik remained entirely intact, save where it separated from the socket.

“Wow!…Momma, Yulia [my sister] hmmm…Nyet Sviet, nyet sviet [no light, no light]”

“Pocheemoo? [why?]” asked momma.

Unfortunately, after seven years of “higher education” I still don’t know what makes the glass part of a light bulb explode from its screwed-in socket and nearly burn the foreigner it had been so benignly illuminating seconds before…and if I did, I there’s no way I could explain it in Russian.

After a short discussion, 97% of which motivates me to keep studying Russian, my mother disappeared from the house. Within seconds she was back, dragging a skinny, sleepy-eyed Russian man by the arm. My Russian isn’t too good yet, but I did manage, “Momma, from where man?” and “this man who?”

My sister explained that he was our neighbor and an electrician and sure enough, without hesitation he climbed atop a chair, pulled a pair of needle-nose from his pocket and started to raise his arm toward the socket. He paused and turned to Yulia, mumbling something in Russian. Yulia turned to me, “he says this very dangerous and don’t try without much practice”.

I explained to my sister that I would be happy not to play with live wires and that she should not worry.

As our wiry electrically enlightened Russian neighbor unscrewed Sputnik’s booster rocket from its socket, he explained that the wiring was very old, probably from Stalin’s time (now, this I took to be an exaggeration since the house was built during the Brezhnev era), but he got his point across and we all had a good laugh.

Addenda: About a week ago my fellow volunteers pointed out that when I tried to speak in Russian, I spoke with an Italian accent. Moreover, now when I speak English to a Kyrgyz or Russian person, I use a Russian accent. Perhaps soon I will eliminate the Faux-Italian sounding Russian speaking and replace my Russian sounding English speaking with Russian sounding Russian speaking. Did you get all that?

Speaking of Language, I attend a Russian language class with three others and we share the best language instructor that PC has to offer. Our professor, Usien, attended Moscow University and speaks 7 languages. More importantly, he is incredibly kind, patient and creative in his teaching. 5 days a week I walk one mile down the main road in Ivanovka to Usien’s host-home. We study Russian from 8:30-12:30 with a 15 minute coffee break around 10:45AM.
Over the past 7 days I have walked over 24 miles. I now weigh 94 pounds. Just kidding, if anything I’ve been packing on the pounds. I eat pasta, bread and potatoes everyday (Atkins would have had a heart attack if he—wait a minute, he did have heart attack—scratch that).

(As I was writing this, I was just introduced to my first Tajik refugee. I wish I could write more about this, but truly it was just an introduction and then he left. As you may recall, the NGO I am working with here in Ivanovka works with Tajiks who fled Tajikistan during the civil war from 1992-95. I know very little about this civil war and have limited access to information and the internet—So if any of you who read this blog could google it, it would be much appreciated. My sister and I are writing a grant proposal to obtain funding for seminars that provide Tajik refugees with basic knowledge about how to obtain Kyrgyz citizenship.

Jake, thanks for the post! Hope the Vikes are doing well. As for things I could use...actually not too much yet...but there are a couple.Coffee (ground for a french press---all I’ve had is instant and although the chai is good, coffee would rock!)2-3 cheap Potatoe peelers and a few blank CDs. Thanks!!!! Mom, I hope your trip to Alaska went well. I would love an update about it! Keith said you saw some whales and dolphins. Sounds great. Hope you are doing well. I'll write more later. Take care, Love Larry. Tomorrow (Saturday) is culture day and a field trip to Burana Tower. Gotta RUn. Take care.



    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 9:58 AM  

  • Larry, Larry - what adventures you have been having! I'm sitting in a garage at Terry's house on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Minnesota. I certainly hope you are enjoying yourself and are helping to reverse the damage to US prestige that I magnify every time I try to help an international student get on the network at WMCL! I will e you later but the best of luck to you mio fratello - Joe Ketzner

    By Blogger Joe, At 12:10 PM  

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