01 February 2011

Am I in Kyrgyzstan or the Bible Belt?

I’m starting up a new English-speaking practice session thing again, like I did in Bishkek a few years ago.  We live near a university that requires its students to learn English, so there are lots of people interested practicing.  I sit in a classroom and talk, and the rest of the family goes outside and plays sports.  Today’s was baseball.

There were only a few people today, since we only got the signs posted a few hours earlier.  Tokmok is a very diverse town and the group today reflected that.  Two were Kyrgyz, one was Russian, one was Uzbek/Uyghur, and the last was Dungan.  It brought back all sorts of great memories of talking to the students five years ago.

The students at this university are usually not from Bishkek, although all the people in the group were from the north.  Two of the women who came were my age or older and worked for the university.  I hope they keep coming because it would be interesting to talk to some older people too.

We talked a little about April’s revolution, and a little about food, and the Dungan woman who also knows my husband invited us to a wedding in March.  That I am looking forward to. We’ve had very little interaction with Dungans.  She also told me the best place in town to get Dungan laghman. 

One student is Kyrgyz and Christian.  My husband had talked to him a few days earlier, and that was one of the first things that came up.  The student wondered if my husband was Christian too, and if so, what kind.  When he found out we’re Mormon, he started asking about polygamy.  He told my husband he’s Baptist.

Anyway, today he was asking me whether I’m Mormon too, and then started telling me Mormons aren’t Biblical.  That’s not too uncommon, but I was a little surprised when the reason he gave for our unbiblicalness was that we fight in wars.  I’m not up on all types of Baptists, but it did seem odd that he thought that Mormons in particular didn’t follow the Bible because we aren’t pacifists. 

Then he asked what political party I liked.  I told him I wasn’t a member of either, but started to say that there were things I liked in both parties, mentioning the Democrats first.  He jumped right in to tell me that Democrats are “amoral” (his word). So does he like George W. Bush and Republicans?  And the war in Iraq? I was starting to feel like I was in the American south instead of Kyrgyzstan.

We also had the fun of rehashing the polygamy thing briefly, but I don’t think he believed that my husband doesn’t have several wives tucked away somewhere.  If he does, I’d like one or two of them to take care of my three-year-old while I go shopping in the bazaar. 

1 comment:

  1. Love this vignette. I admire how you keep your cool and enjoy people, and the inconsistency of real people.