One of the things I do with my Russian tutor is to read the local newspaper. I'd been doing this before, but it's nice to read it with someone who can fill in lots of other interesting information. Both my husband and I spend a lot of time quizzing our language teachers about whatever we can think of. This summer both of our teachers are Uyghur and it's interesting to compare what they say.
I've noticed that since the current acting mayor went into office recently, he's been very busy making rather public city improvements. Every week there are several articles in the paper about what he's been doing. I haven't been reading the newspaper long enough to know if this was unusual so I asked my teacher about it. It turns out that the previous acting mayor didn't do anything, but this one does because he has lots of rich friends whom he's asked to pay for projects. And since the mayoral election is coming up in the fall, he has lots of incentive to do public projects.
It works out great for the rich friends. Helping someone get elected to office benefits you too, when you're in Kyrgyzstan. I must say that I prefer this system because at least Tokmok is getting some much-needed repairs and supplies. We now have new lawn mowers and chain saw, 60 new street lights that turn off and on automatically* and, best of all, a repaved square at the entrance of the bazaar.
It's fun to go to the bazaar every day to see how that square is turning out. The marshrutkas went back to their parking lot a few days ago and now a big, sorry-looking building looks like it's turn is next. I don't know what they're going to do with it though. Another section of the square is being prepared for repaving and a lot of people working in the bazaar were moved, I assume temporarily. I wonder if they're going to repave inside the actual bazaar. It turns into a bit of a bog in the winter.
I also read an article about the Russian Orthodox Church in Central Asia, and especially in Tokmok and Kyrgyzstan. They're celebrating 140 years since the Church came into Central Asia with various activities.
We also talked about the price of food here. Sugar keeps going up slowly and flour is still high. To me, the price of the local vegetables in the bazaar is ridiculously cheap, but my teacher said that they are much more expensive than they were two years ago. I'll watch to see how low the tomatoes go; she said they used to be 2 som a kilogram. I don't think I'd even feel good about paying that price. People's time has to be worth more than that, even here.
*We have a streetlight across the street that isn't automatic; it has a switch. I'm always tempted to switch it off when I want to look at the stars. From the photos in the paper it looks like the new streetlights are mighty beacons that would seriously impede stargazing.