29 December 2006
27 December 2006
2 pounds chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
1 T minced garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1/2 c mint leaves, minced (use kitchen shears)
Combine everything (adding the chicken last) and refrigerate at least 3 hours. Thread onto skewers and cook in whatever manner is handy for you. I broil them on high, about 5 inches from the broiler element, for 7-10 minutes.
23 December 2006
22 December 2006
And of course there are already rumors about his death. It's business as usual though in the country. The man who was supposed to become acting president, Ovezgeldy Ataev, has been fired and accused of various things by the man who actually became acting president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. He's apparently learned a few things from Niyazov. And if Berdymukhammedov ends up holding on to power, he may well have the longest last name of any head of state. Who would be some other contenders?
Some Russian experts have weighed in on Niyazov's death. I don't think anything is particularly predictable right now in Turkmenistan. I'll just hope (and pray) that the country is able to take a better direction sometime soon. It would be hard, although certainly possible, to do worse that Niyazov. But it will be hard to recover from that havoc Niyazov wreaked on the economic and education systems in the country, much less from his impact on every day life.
21 December 2006
Did I ever put this picture up last year? I can't remember. This is a nativity my husband put together with these little wooden figures you can get in all the souvenir shops in Bishkek. It wasn't originally a nativity (one of the wise men is actually a women), but I like it. I'll put up a picture of our other Kyrgyzstan nativity tomorrow, I hope.
(Pardon the blue cloth. I didn't have a lot of options in Bishkek.)
19 December 2006
Have any of you fascinating people who read this blog ever tried building your own tandoor oven? I've been thinking about doing this for a long time and recently heard about a woman building one in her backyard (I wasn't sure about fire codes and such in the US, but it sounds like it's okay). Apparently she got a mold (they sell them in the Gulf) and then built it with dirt and clay.
I'd LOVE to have a tandoor in the backyard.
17 December 2006
15 December 2006
This wouldn't be a problem, since others make really good ones and share them with us, but my children seem to think they would be fun to make when people give us cute little cookies that look perfect. So we try. And it always ends up with me cross in the kitchen and a pathetic little collection of the sorriest-looking sugar cookies you've ever seen. And the boys are hiding downstairs.
Can't we just have snickerdoodles?
(And please don't give me tips or new recipes. I don't want to ever even imagine again that I should try making them.)
14 December 2006
Earlier this year Kulov said that Kyrgyzstan will owe $100 million in interest payments over the next three years. $100 million is a huge number in Kyrgyzstan. So far $39,000 has been raised to cover these payments so HIPC won't be necessary. There isn't $100 million available in Kyrgyzstan over the next three years, not to mention the continuing payments after toward the $2 billion currently owed.
Even though HIPC is not an attractive option to many in Kyrgyzstan, what else is the country going to do? I understand that it is annoying to have other countries come in and tell you what to do. I know I sound like an imperialist snob for saying this. But the money was borrowed and it has to be paid back. HIPC would write off as much as half of the $2 billion in exchange for reforms that are necessary to get Kyrgyzstan's economy going. No one in Kyrgyzstan can deny that corruption has had a seriously negative impact on the economy and there seems to be no political will to reduce that corruption (including the shadow economy which every single person in Kyrgyzstan is a part of). HIPC would at least require some reforms.
And please, Kyrgyzstan does not have enough natural resources to make it an object of prey for the World Bank or the West in general. And please stop trying to blame Akaev for this. I agree he caused a lot of the problems, but blaming Akaev won't solve the problems.
HIPC is not what we should be arguing about. HIPC would neither solve Kyrgyzstan's economic problems, nor would it make those problems significantly worse. There are so many other things contributing to Kyrgyzstan's economic woes that this outcry over HIPC is masking.
End of imperialist rant. Actually what I really wish is that there were a way for all countries that qualify for HIPC to write off every penny of their debt and use that money to get their economies going. Without corruption. When I have my own world.
13 December 2006
12 December 2006
11 December 2006
I loved volunteering at the baby house and working with the university students on English. I'd love to do the same thing in any country. I love homeschooling the boys. I love living in other countries with my family, especially with my husband. He is far more adventurous than I and I need him there with me. He enjoys teaching law overseas and could do that. We both were glad to learn a bit of Russian even though it wasn't our favorite. It's so much easier to work on a language in country.
It's too expensive though in reality. Even though it's technically much cheaper to live in many countries than the US, our monthly student loan payments are more than the average annual salary for law professors in many countries. And there are the flights. And homeschooling overseas does require some money because it's impossible to get decent schoolbooks in English, at least in the countries I'd want to live in. And a good internet connection is expensive; it's a necessity so I can keep in touch with my family. And a reasonable apartment in a safe and quiet neighborhood are requirements too. I require our own bathroom and I'm not sure I'd ever be interested in washing clothes by hand for a family of four or more- I think I could handle it for two though.
And for some reason my husband thinks a regular career would be a good thing for our family. One where you stay put for a while.
09 December 2006
Jupiter, Mercury, and Mars will be closely grouped tomorrow morning at dawn (nice that it's December so dawn is rather late). This doesn't happen often; the last time any three planets were this close together was in 1925 and the next time it will happen is in 2053. Mars is pretty dim right now so you might need binoculars, but Jupiter and Mercury should be easy to see if it's clear and you're looking in the right direction. It's always tricky though to see anything this close to the sun. And the mountains could block the whole thing from where I am.
If you look at the moon while you're out, you'll see Saturn just below it.
And the Geminids will be peaking on Wednesday morning.
08 December 2006
The Agrarian University in Bishkek likes Turkmenbashi for some reason. I wish I was still there and could ask the students I knew from that university how they like the Ruhnama. For some reason I just can't imagine this foundation is making a big difference in Kyrgyzstan. Even beyond the fact that Niyazon is over the top, the Ruhnama is totally geared toward the Turkmens and not the Kyrgyz.
07 December 2006
I am so tired of boxes. But I will be done soon. And then maybe I will write about something interesting. My brain has been turned off and this has to be the most boring site ever.
Did I ever say that I don't like to deal with comments? I'm still trying to decide if blogging on bigger blogs is for me. Comments I get here are fine- I can handle a few a week. But more than that strains my brain in so many ways.
06 December 2006
One thing I've always disliked about shopping in Asia (any part, from the Middle East to China) are the flimsy plastic bags you always end up with. Bags that can't hold anything. They're awful and they're everywhere (the few grocery stores in Bishkek that had decent bags would ration them out carefully- I usually took a cloth bag with me to avoid the bad ones). Everyone knows they're awful; most store owners will at least double bag your stuff.
But what's even worse about the total ineffectiveness of these bags is that they all seem to end up on the ground somewhere. This picture is from India, but the same picture could be taken in dozens of other countries. Countries prone to flooding have even more reason to worry because they seem to clog up drainage system- Dhaka and Mumbai in addition to others have banned them for this reasons. I hate these bags.
But so do lots of people and there's a growing movement to ban plastic bags, or at least the flimsy little ones. Tanzania just banned the thin ones; several other African countries have already banned them. Beijing has been trying to crack down on them in preparation for the Olympics. But too many cities continue to ignore this problem. And it's something so worthless that's filling up the streets.
(Yes, I know there are problems with plastic bags in the US. But it's nowhere near the problem it is in some other countries. And it's easy to fix in the US- just don't use plastic bags, or reuse the ones you do. And be grateful that you can get strong bags so easily.)
05 December 2006
04 December 2006
There have been some interesting comments about Islam in Central Asia. James posted about Khalid's book a couple of weeks ago at neweurasia and Nick mentioned a couple of resources: For Prophet and Tsar: Islam in Central Asia, Encyclopedia of Islam, Cambridge History of Islam, Cambridge History of Iran, and Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde: Baba Tukles and Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition.
And since it was ambiguous below, when I referred to the dearth of books on Islam in Central Asia, I was referring to Islam during the Soviet years, and particularly in the last 15 years. And how Islam in Central Asia compares to Islam in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East. Many non-Muslims have a rather monolithic image of Islam and I'd love to see even some popular nonfiction talking about the diversity within Islam.
Thanks so much for the suggestions.