I think I miss the social aspect of shopping in the bazaar. Narodniy is wonderfully convenient and I will never complain about being able to buy milk there, but I like getting to know the people I'm buying from. I'm a little surprised by this since I'm not exactly outgoing, but I looked forward to seeing people I knew in the bazaar in Tokmok. Maybe I am just so isolated right now that any friendly face is nice.
I wanted to live near Ak Emir Bazaar because I knew I could get decent produce there and it's an easy place to shop, but even that's turning out to be rather civilized for my taste. It's still a great place to shop, but I'm exploring all the places I can shop instead in
Bishkek, places that are a little more personal (which is everything
besides a Western-style grocery store). This involved sticking your head instead any open doorway and seeing if there's something for sale that you want.
The best place so far has been an unassuming place just a door or two down the street. It doesn't look like much from the entrance, but once you're inside there are piles of stuff all over the place. There's meat in the back (I don't think I will ever buy meat here no matter how accustomed I get to everything else), good produce, school supplies, pasta and all sorts of grains, hair stuff, and lots more. We've been there often enough that we're getting smiles from some people. We're a memorable family anyway, with three American boys, a wife who asks for Dungan ingredients, and a husband who speaks Uzbek and Uyghur.
Another benefit to going to new places is that I'm a lot more likely to get local prices than at places where lots of expats shop. Nearly everything is 10-20 percent more expensive in Bishkek than Tokmok no matter what, but I've had a few too many people at Ak Emir try to double the price of their peaches when they see me. So I'm hoping that the new little "bazaar" works for us.