Monday, August 31, 2009

Hosting my parents in KG

My parents came to KG the first two weeks of August - a milestone in my PC service. We spent the first half in Issyk-Kul Oblast, the lake region, and then blazed through the mountians to tour the south. Oddly, the most anticipated social experiment of my life (mixing family-family with my Kyrgyz family) couldn't have felt more comfortable. Most of the members of my host family can communicate the basics in English and my parents attempted to meet them halfway with "Rakmat" (thank you) and "Daamdoo" (Delicious) - my Dad's version was something a bit more like "Damdadamdamdoo," which might just be the appropriate Midwestern spin on it. I've been pretty lousy about keeping this blog updated, but I didn't come here to disconnect myself from the people and life in America that I on with it.

The second day into their stay, my parents witnessed a lovely display of Kyrgyz formality. I had arranged for a meeting at my school, between the Director of the school, my local counterpart, my parents, and the President of the Bishkek Rotary Club. We had just received a generous donation through the cooperation of the Maple Grove Rotary Club and the Bishkek Rotary, for new English text books and I thought I was following custome by arranging for some sort of ceremony. Guess I'm just an amateur at Kyrgyz business arrangements, though, 'cause I ended up with an expectant guest from Bishkek, no key to the school building, no counterpart, and an offhand update that the Director was swimming in Lake Issky-Kul, so she wouldn't be coming after all. I was haunted by a cartoon-like image of my Director doing leisurely doing the breaststroke while I scrambled to pull together some sort of official feeling assembly. My host mother acted, while I just panicked; we had some lunch at my house and then we went to the school. So, once we were inside the English classroom, we had acquired one of the school's "zavooches" - like an assistant director - and my mom pulled out the video camera to record our thanks and a few words dedicated towards strengthening the realtionship between the two Rotary Clubs. Noticing another body in the room, I asked my host mom who the man in the sun hat was...."He's a shepherd." Of course. To his credit, he was probably one of the most enthusiastic people in the room (the Vodka on his breath may have played a part). He kept distracting me from my patch-work formal ceremony by asking me if we wanted to go to the mountains with him. He just couldn't fathom why I wasn't in complete agreement - we should have left immediately with this complete stranger, as passangers in his old Volvo, straight to the mountains, with the promise of an afternoon rich with occasions for toasts of Vodka. Meanwhile, my parents had no idea that this person wasn't invited to our mini school function. When we lined up for a photo, he was eager to join right in; and when speached were delivered in English, he started up confusing rounds of applause that had everyone else joining in for no reason other than the impulse to follow suit. I revealed his true identity to my parents after our Bishkek guest had left: a drunk enthusiast. Charming.

Well, school starts tomorrow, so I had better pick out my outfit and go to bed early:) I don't remember the last time I've been fully awake by is full of challenges. Aha.