24 May 2011

Living on the Jailoo

As I've mentioned before, we live in a house in Tokmok, Kyrgryzstan.  A completely normal house in Tokmok.  That means that going to a CBT homestay in Kochkor isn't very exciting.  It was nice to not cook a few meals, and I suppose it was exciting to sleep in real beds, but mostly it was like being at home. 

Visiting the jailoo was not like being at home.  Except for when it was.  The dishes had the same patterns ours have, and we slept on tushuks like we do at home.  The broom was the same, and taking off our shoes, and eating laghman and soup and bread and jam.  The outhouse was familiar too, especially since we'd had seven people sharing one bathroom in Tokmok for a few weeks.

But really, the jailoo is not like home.  Jyldyz and her husband live in the trailer for six months.  It consists of two rooms.  There are tushuks for sleeping on, a table, and a sheep-chip stove that was used to heat the trailer and for cooking.  You can see the "sink" outside the trailer; there's a small container that is manually filled with water and you use as little as possible, especially since it's so difficult to get water.

I can't even imagine dealing with paying guests here. I loved spending some time there, but I was really conflicted about the amount of extra work we created for Jyldyz.  She took care of almost everything.  And I know a lot better now what it's like to cook in a kitchen like that.  I do have a gas stove, but that's the only way that my kitchen is better than Jyldyz's.

When we got back to Tokmok, I was grateful to use the washing machine and take a shower (even though it was difficult to get the pump to work and I thought we'd have to pump water ourselves and heat it for showering).  But while I was carrying buckets of water into the kitchen, and going in and out of the house a million times to fix the pump, and trying to make dinner for seven with the simplest of ingredients, and steering people to the outhouse because someone was showering, I couldn't stop remembering the jailoo and the things that were the same and the things that were different.  I've rarely felt so disoriented when I've come back from a short trip.

In some ways life on the jailoo is as different from life in Tokmok as life in Tokmok is different from life in the US.  But in other ways it felt more familiar than life in the US. 

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