29 November 2011

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Yes, I do still read, although don't post about the books I've been reading as consistently.  But I did really enjoy this book.  Definitely peculiar, never boring, and always making you wonder what the author would do with the story. 

Good Stuff with Paneer

I started making paneer a lot more often when we lived in Tokmok and even though buying fresh whole milk isn't quite as convenient in Bishkek, we still eat lots of paneer.  Here's what I like to do with it now.  The third recipe is based on a Bhutanese dish, the last is similar to a Greek dish, and the first two are mostly Indian.

When I say spices, I mean to just add what you like.  For these recipes I add about a teaspoon each of coriander and cayenne pepper, then 1/2 tsp of turmeric, cumin, fennel, mustard seed, and nigella.  Other people like garam masala.

Paneer and Garbanzos

Paneer made from three liters of milk, cubed and fried till golden
2-3 cups cooked garbanzos
One chopped onion
Lots of minced garlic
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a wok, then add the spices and stir-fry till they're fragrant, then add the onions and stir-fry till they're just starting to brown.  Add the garlic a little before that.  Add the paneer and garbanzos and salt and stir-fry for a few minutes.  Adjust the seasonings, then stir in the chopped cilantro.  This is good right off the stove, but it's also good warm.  Serve with naan (and of course Central Asian is best).

Paneer and Potatoes

This is the same as the previous recipe, except use diced cooked potatoes (boiled, baked, or fried, just don't use mushy ones) instead of the garbanzos

Paneer with Spicy Tomatoes

4 cayennes, chopped, or more if you want them seeded- 8 isn't too many if you seed

1 large onion, sliced
1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Paneer from 2-3 liters of milk, cubed (you can fry it ahead of time if you like)
1 tsp salt, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Put the chiles, onion, water, and oil in a medium pan and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and garlic and bring back to a boil to simmer for 10 more minutes. Add the paneer and salt cook for a few more minutes.  This is best served warm, so remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for ten minutes before adjusting the seasoning and stirring in the cilantro. You can serve this with rice, but I think it's best with naan.

Potatoes Simmered with Tomatoes with Paneer

About 8 potatoes (not baking, if possible), peeled and cut into wedges like an apple
1 cup water
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the above till the potatoes are just barely tender.  While it's simmering, heat some oil in a wokand add some spices that make you happy.  I did cumin, coriander, mustard seed, cayenne, turmeric, and nigella.  Add a chopped onion and as much garlic as you like and fry till the onions are soft.  While that's cooking, heat oil in another frying pan and fry 1/2 pound of sliced paneer till it's crispy and golden.  Or you can skip the frying; the cheese will be quite soft if you don't fry it first, although it won't melt.  Add the fried-or-not paneer to the onions and cook for a couple more minutes.  Season to taste and dump into the potatoes and cook a minute or two more. Like always, best with hot, crusty naan.

28 November 2011


Mormons don't follow a liturgical calendar (unless, I suppose, you want to count Pioneer Day and the Sacrament Meeting Presentation), but that doesn't mean that individual Mormons can't follow one of their own.  We've been celebrating Holy Week for years (although not Lent) and this year we're doing Advent.  There are lots of different things you can do to observe Advent, but we have have four candles that we put in a circle and verses to read from the Bible and Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.  And since it's always nice when someone else organizes things for you, we're using this website.  I'm quite sure that Christmas cookies will also make an appearance each week, thanks to the peppermint extract my mother mailed.

Holy Week is hard to do at home with just one family, but Advent is a lot more suited to independent observation which is perfect for us right now. 

23 November 2011

Raxmat and Thanks

I've been around, despite not posting, dealing with normal-life things that are the same as what I'd be doing in the US.  Mostly.  Bishkek does put an interesting twist on anything we try to do. 

Can I do a ubiquitous thanks for stuff post too?  Yes, I can.

I am still grateful every.single.time I turn on a faucet and hot water comes out of any of the four different faucets in my house.  I don't care that it's not potable; potable water is over-rated.  It's hot and clean and reliable. Or I can choose to have cold water come out.

I'm delighted that it's so easy to do the dishes now.  Dishwashers are over-rated too.

I love that I can buy milk and cheese a block away and even more I love the little bazaar next door that has funchooza, sparzhe, all kinds of vegetables, all kinds of rice, toilet paper, notebooks, fresh naan, toilet cleaner, vegetable oil, sesame oil, black vinegar, laghman, and a million other things. 

I'm even more in love with the fact that my oldest son is willing and able to go to that bazaar and buy pasta for lunch on his own.

I am happy I can buy peanut butter, tilapia, tofu, bok choy, gochujang, bulgur, red lentils, garbanzo beans, tahini, and dark chocolate even if I have to walk a few miles. 

There are 6 local women here who make life better, even though I don't get to see them as often as any of us would like.  Two in particular make it possible for me to do what I need to do here.

I'm so happy that my oldest is finding some friends.  I hope middle son has some success with that soon.

My husband is doing such interesting research.  I've been doing some interesting research too.  Not that the two have anything to do with each other or necessarily the following, but I'm so glad I can live in Bishkek right now.

I'm grateful for ereaders and ebooks.  They're so normal to us now that I don't even think about it, but they have completely changed our lives and made so many things possible.  I'm also fanatically enthusiastic about our speedy internet connection.  Everything has been so much easier in Bishkek.

But still I'm so glad I had the chance to live in Tokmok most of this year.  I miss it- the quieter streets and the friendly neighbors (although the neighbors are friendly here) and the bazaar.  I learned a lot there that changed my thinking in many ways.

There are other things I wish I could have been thankful for, like having a branch of the LDS church here, or having been to Uzbekistan this year, or knowing what we're going to be doing in the next few months, or being able to buy good cheddar cheese (I suppose the cheese is small potatoes).  But you can't have all the big things, and there are a few big things I do have.

20 November 2011

An Authoritarian Church without the Authorities

I wrote this almost five years ago and posted it on a now-long-defunct blog, but I keep thinking about it this time around. I'd emphasize some different things if I were writing this now, but it's all still basically true for me now:

It is a rather interesting experience to be a member of an centralized, authoritarian (if we're phrasing this in governmental terms) church, but not have anyone in authority over you. In most parts of the world, you have a long line of authority and there is always someone to go to, whether it's a question or something you need help with.

But there's no one to turn to Kyrgyzstan. The best we can do is email a busy General Authority [in 2011, we email the secretary to the GA over us] who understandably may or may not have time to deal with stray members living in odd countries. If this were a decentralized church, like many Christian sects are, it would matter far less. In fact, many Christians come to this part of the world and organize their own services, do missionary work as they please, and so on (this creates its own set of problems, but that's not what this particular post is about).

Our church isn't that way. While we're encouraged to be anxiously engaged in a good cause, there are things we could do here that would not be appreciated. In the US, we didn't have to ask permission to read the Book of Mormon with anyone, member or not, or to tell someone about the church, or even to pray outside our home. But now that we have more questions, there is no one to ask. Some of those questions we want to ask might not have an answer even if we find someone to ask. But it could be a problem if we just go ahead and do what we think is best.

It was simple in the Middle East. You just didn't talk about the gospel. There was no confusion. We also were interacting with people in an entirely different way there. There also were branches there so even if we had had questions, there would have been someone to ask.

While we still love (and I mean love) homechurching [another 2011 update- the love is a little different with older kids], the isolation here is sometimes hard to deal with. While I am busier and more service-oriented than I ever was in the US, and while I have plenty of friends, it has been trying sometimes.

19 November 2011

Are You Waiting for Me or Expecting Me?

One word in Russian that I always have trouble with is ждать.  It can be used to mean to wait for or to expect.  In my English brain there is a big difference between the two and it's made worse because I hate to be late.  So if a Russian speaker tells me they're expecting me, I always panic and hear that they're waiting for me, even if I know we'd agreed on a later time.

I'm finally starting to get a little more rational and after thinking they're waiting, I realize they're simply expecting me at the appointed time. 

18 November 2011

Comments Again

Comments are back on for now, although they'll be back off at the first hint of trouble.  But when wordpress blogs made a reappearance this morning, it made me optimistic enough that blogger isn't going anywhere tomorrow.  Just barely; Kazakhstan seems a little antsy right now and I expect internet censorship will be a result. 

But whatever, comment away for now.

15 November 2011

The Laws on the Books and the Laws on the Ground

Bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan is against the law and has been for a long time.  In fact you have over 80 years of its technically being illegal.  So why did it increase during the Soviet Union, a time when there was certainly the will and ability to stop it?  Why is it still so prevalent today?  That's because the laws on the books are not the only laws, or the most important laws, people follow. 

There is a different law in place that is much more strongly enforced in Kyrgyzstan:  If a girl spends the night at a man's house, whether she has sex or not, consensually or not, she must marry him.  This is more than some nebulous thing called customary law, or a tradition, or a custom, and its impact is significantly more strongly felt than many laws on the books.  It is enforced as strongly as any codified law might be.

We heard an interesting story today about a Soviet leader's daughter who was kidnapped.  I'm not going to identify him because although he has died, his daughter has not.  Suffice to say that he was not a minor leader in Kirghizia.  Obviously Soviet law didn't allow kidnapping, but the daughter would also be breaking the law by not marrying her kidnapper.  Her mother knew that, so she didn't tell her husband (the Soviet leader) about the kidnapping* because she knew the consequences of breaking the second law.

Those consequences (there are several, but the most important is the perception that the girl will never get married if she doesn't marry her kidnapper) are usually considered worse than the consequences of staying with the abductor.  If that law doesn't change, it doesn't really matter how many laws the politicians pass or the foreign legal community clamors for, because that law is the one people will follow. 

There can be consequences to breaking the first law, but probably not jail time.  In my opinion, the value the first type of law has is in giving leverage to the girl's family.  Threatening to go to court often is an extremely effective bargaining tool here and making the laws on the book deal with the entire crime** is useful in making the threat more potent. 

The laws regarding bride kidnapping here conflict and are not simply about the laws written in the criminal code.  There are many things that should help reduce kidnapping here but relying on a legal solution than only looks at successful criminal prosecutions ignores other laws and also ignores ways the laws on the books might be used as leverage by the girl's family even if a case never gets to court.

A few more thoughts- It is so interesting to me that there is such strong pressure to not go to court here for any reason, especially since the defendant is almost certain to get convicted if he/she is taken to court.  If you take someone to court, you'll win.  But you still don't go.  It's also naive in my opinion to rely on the state law because no one is going to take their husband to court just for a kidnapping. It appears that if the girl's family does use the state law as leverage she can go if they agree to not take the boy's family to court.  Unfortunately it's very unlikely that a state prosecutor would pursue a trial on his or her own without the involvement of the family.

*While that might seem odd to many Americans, keeping information like this from a spouse is more normal here  

**Currently it appears that only the abductor(s) can be charged with non-consensual bride kidnapping, but there are many other players, from the boy's mother who forces the girl to put on the white scarf to the people who pressure the girl to "consent" to the marriage.  If there were more legal consequences for the actions of more people involved it may well give the girl more leverage.

13 November 2011

A Sunday in Kyrgyzstan (or life as an isolated Mormon)

Religious post ahead.  Updated April 27, 2015.

Our church isn't recognized here and currently there are no other expat Mormon families living here that we know of.  We're not part of a mission or any other organization except the East Europe Area; we're directly under the area.  Those two sentences make our situation sound like a typical isolated family thing, but that is not the case.  I can't tell you more about that though.

Mormons are big on meeting together every week for church, but that looks a little different for my family because we don't have anyone else to meet with.  We're rather jealous of isolated members in Alaska who get to have church over the phone and the online expat branch in China.  Especially the expat branch because we live as close to Beijing as some of them do.  Anyway, we have church at home every week and since we don't have an online branch, we're finally getting creative in creating our own.  So here's a Sunday at our house in Bishkek.

8 AM ish- get up and make breakfast (crepes today) while we're getting all the devices ready for church.  Eat every crepe.

9- Husband and older sons go in one room to Skype with their uncle and grandpa for priesthood meeting.  I go in another room to Skype with various sisters, grandmas, and cousins for Primary with the little one.  This was the first time we'd done Primary over Skype and we had to work out a few glitches, but it went well in the end.  Various cousins say prayers and talk about the sacrament with my littlest. 

10ish- Since most of the family is dressed for church we decide to do sacrament meeting.  Husband gets things ready for the sacrament while I get the music ready.  We have a keyboard and piano players but it generally works best for us to use the sacrament meeting collections because we like to sing fast.  Everyone takes turns giving talks which doesn't make the older boys happy.  I tell them that they'll be able to make some good jokes in a few years about the number of talks they've already given in sacrament meeting.

11ish- Clean up from church and breakfast and hang up the laundry.  Diddle around and eat lunch.

1PM- Do the dishes again while husband cleans the bathroom and we all get ready for some friends to come visit which we plan on every week.

1:55- Friend calls to say she'll be late and no one else can come today.  Play games with the boys till she come.

2:30- Talk and read with friend for an hour.  The boys watch a movie.

3:30- She goes home and we diddle around some more and I do some family history.  You shouldn't be accountable for every minute on Sunday, should you?

4:45- Start dinner (plov, pickled cucumbers, and naan)

Do rest of the evening stuff which doesn't really have anything to do with today's being Sunday

PS:  If you're moving to any sort of isolated area of the LDS church, please don't assume that there are no members there.  You might be surprised.  But isolated members aren't easy to track down.  In the Middle East where the church isn't organized in many countries you can contact the Middle East Desk at middleeastdesk@ldschurch.org for more information.  If you're coming to post-Soviet Central Asia you need to get in contact with the East Europe Area office.  If your bishop can't figure out how to do that, I can.  If you're LDS and have any connection with Kyrgyzstan or any other part of Central Asia we'd love to hear from you, especially if you'll be in Bishkek because we'd be delighted to invite you to church.  Just be ready to give a talk.

Update:  With the announcement of a new Central Eurasian mission in July 2015, it's likely that you'd need to contact that mission office in Istanbul to find out where members are in Central Asia.  There are nearly always members in all of the countries of Central Asia.

12 November 2011

Responsibility of Authority- More Ala Kachuu and Penn State

So here's my biggest problem with Penn State and bride kidnapping and many abuse cases and other crimes: people who are considered authorities often do not do anything, or they do far too little, or, worst of all, the tell the victim or witness to do the wrong thing.  Victims and often people who witness crimes too, for a variety of reasons, are not able to protect themselves or those they see getting hurt.  While it blows my mind that people can walk by someone who was hit by a car without doing anything, or see a child getting abused and not stop it, or ignore a woman getting beaten by her husband next door, I am not surprised that people would be confused and scared about what to do in those situations. There is plenty of research about this and even though, particularly in the case of witnesses to violent crimes, that may not be an excuse for not protecting someone else, it is our reality and difficult to change.

In some ways the grad assistant at Penn State who saw a child getting abused did react in an expected way for his situation- he told several authority figures (his dad and Paterno at least) what he saw.  Of course he should have gone to the police first, but when he didn't, those authorities ought to have gone themselves.  It is part of the responsibility of being in authority. McQueary's father and Joe Paterno did not respond appropriately.  (This is not to say that I think McQueary shouldn't get fired, but I think there are some extenuating circumstances there that do not apply at all to Paterno.)

The same thing happens with bride kidnapping, although to a different extent.  Nearly always there are a variety of authority figures involved- her parents at least, his parents, maybe some neighbors, and often aksakals.  These are all people the woman has been told for years that she must respect and obey.  Nearly always all of those people (every.single.one) tell her that she must marry the man if she stays the night.  There is no other option.  Those authority figures do not protect her and, instead, tell her she must get married.

There are many reasons why those authorities do what they do- a major one is that, more than protecting victims, they want to protect social or insititutional order, to put it kindly. Jerks.

We're slowly, slowly getting to a point in the US where laws regarding authorities' reporting of child abuse will make a difference and I hope Joe Paterno's firing will drive that home a little better to all people in authority in the US.  The legal system in Kyrgyzstan doesn't work that way though and I'm not at all convinced that a legal solution is best regarding ala kachuu, although it ought to be part of a solution.  But that's also another post.

11 November 2011

Football Power

The whole mess with Penn State is really bothering me, probably because I'm tying it all up in my head with bride kidnapping here.  A lot of my husband's research is focused on kidnapping (not because it's kidnapping, but because it's one of the many "disputes" here that isn't taken care of in court even though a state law is broken) and we've talked about it for hours and hours and hours (and I'm sleepy because of all those hours spent talking). 

The connection might not be obvious, but what the Penn State mess (and please don't call it a sex scandal because it is about child abuse) boils down to is too many people didn't go to the police when they saw or knew of a violent and awful crime being committed.  Nope, they just covered it all up and went on with their merry football lives.  Anyone who feels sorry for Joe Paterno right now ought to remember that if he'd only made sure this went to the police 10 or 15  or 20 years ago and fired what's-his-bucket right then instead of just having him resign and burying his head about the fact that he had access to young kids all the time, things wouldn't be anywhere near as bad for his football program right now, not to mention the kids that wouldn't have been molested. 

There are too many times where people don't call the police or turn someone in because it's financially or socially risky to do so.  If you see someone lighting a fire in the basement of an apartment building you don't call your boss and wonder what to do.  You call the police (or I hope you do).  If you see a child getting molested, you should call the police.  The risk to the people in the apartment building or to the child is much greater than your potential risk. It's simple. 

However, I know it's not always so simple.  It's against the Kyrgyzstan criminal code to kidnap a bride and has been for quite a few years.  It appears that no man has *ever* been convicted for kidnapping even though more than half of all marriages in Kyrgyzstan are a result of kidnapping.  Even though there is a law and people do have access to the courts, there are other significant, hugely significant, pressures playing against women who might want to take their kidnapper to court.  In short, women don't take their kidnappers to court because there is a great deal of pressure not to. Did the same thing happen at Penn State?  And if it did, what does that say about football and money and power in the US?

And I have more to say about this, but it will have to wait for another day.  Because it is time to make dinner.

08 November 2011

Glimpses of Village Life in Kyrgyzstan

My family might not own many paper books anymore, but we did keep our big picture books of the Middle East and other interesting parts of the world during the book scanning fest last year.  They're in storage right now, but we like to get books with lots of pictures about the places we've been or love.  So we have books about Mamluk Cairo and the Dome of the Rock and the Alhambra and lots of other wonderful places.

We don't have anything about Central Asia however. There are a few about Uzbekistan which would be great since we want to go to Uzbekistan someday, but I also want something that's about Kyrgyzstan and I hadn't been able to find anything.  But I did find Glimpses of Village Life in Kyrgyzstan and I really like this book.  It's not big and fancy, but it's the first thing I've seen that really portrays Kyrgyzstan the way it is outside Bishkek.

The author, Meredith Thorpe, lived here in early 2003 and spent a lot of time in rural southern Kyrgyzstan.  The book is mostly her watercolors that she did here; you can tell wasn't just running in and out of places, but really seeing what is here.  She covers so much in this book that I've never seen in any other book on Kyrgyzstan.

My only quibble about the book is that ethnicity isn't dealt with very clearly.  Maybe that was intentional because Kyrgyz in the south are a lot more like Uzbeks than they might like to admit, but a reader might not be able to tell if a tradition or practice described is Kyrgyz specifically or more generally Central Asia or possibly just Uzbek.  Sometimes it seems like Uzbeks completely disappear into the background when they are a significant part of southern Kyrgyzstan. 

Still, that doesn't take away from the book too much and there's still a lot to like about it. 

Now I just need to find something about the edges of China.  Most slick picture books about China aren't exactly interested in the parts of China I like.

05 November 2011

Birds in Central Asia

Birds I've seen and identified in Central Asia.  All the photos posted are my own, taken with a mediocre camera.  They are named in English, Latin, Russian, and Kyrgyz based on Joost van der Ven's Looking at Birds in Kyrgyz Republic.

The best part about seeing new birds in Central Asia is finding out they're birds I've read about, but never seen before, like mynahs, hoopoes, and rooks.

A million sparrows and doves

Great Tit




Masked Wagtail

Black-billed Magpie 


Common Cuckoo

Little Owl

Slavonian Grebe

Black-Headed Gull

04 November 2011

Child Labor, part two, girls edition

I think one of the things that bothers me about the argument that we can't rearrange school schedule to avoid planting and harvest seasons is that we're ignoring a lot of other work done by children, particularly girls.  Girls, especially those who are part of the first generation in their family to go to school, are often still expected to do a great deal of work at home.  It's not necessarily enough to keep them out of school (although it might every so often), but it is plenty of work.

So why doesn't anyone get up in arms about that?  The work girls do at home can be as labor-intensive, time-consuming, and difficult as nearly anything anyone does outside.  By the same logic used above, school should be in session very early in the morning at least to keep girls from having to do early morning work.  But everyone knows that many girls wouldn't be able to go to school if they couldn't still work at home, so we don't mess with that.  Seems like there's a bit of a double standard here.

(For the record, I think one of the biggest goals in international development ought to be easing the work burden on women and girls.  Too many women and girls are spending a huge amount of time taking care of basic needs- time that could be spent in other, more productive ways, like education or a million other things.  What if the average woman in the world suddenly had 4-8 hours a day to spend doing something else besides hauling and heating laundry, washing clothes, cleaning, gathering fuel, and so many other things?  What changes might we see in the world?)

03 November 2011

American Kids, Kyrgyz Kids part 3

So I'm not the most efficient blogger and have one more thing (maybe) to say about this.  We were talking with our friend who works with the UN.  He asked, as everyone does here, where our boys are going to school.  After a brief bit about homeschooling and that our children won't be stunted forever because of it, he talked about the problem here in Kyrgyzstan of more and more children not going to school.  The Soviet Union created a very educated society here and certainly the people of post-Soviet Central Asia are far more educated, as a whole, than the people of the rest of Central Asia, or the Middle East.  Education is highly valued here.

But there are increasing numbers of children who aren't going to school.  Our friend mentioned the problem that's common everywhere of older teenagers not wanting to go to school, especially if they're struggling with it.  And as is common in many places, even if a free public education is guaranteed to all children, it's not truly completely free.  There are many things, from school uniforms to gifts for the teacher to reket that make it impossible for poor families to send their children to school. 

He also mentioned that many children in rural areas don't attend school during the spring and fall to help their families plant and harvest  Many rural families depend on the food they are able to grow and the income from it to survive the winter, and they expect their children to help.  He said he suggested changing the school schedule in some areas but was told that was impossible because it would allow child labor.  I guess that's another place where some of my American-ness is disappearing because I think changing the schedule might be a good idea.*

I'm obviously not a fan of exploiting children, but I'm not sure that children working with their families to harvest food for the winter is "child labor," at least in the negative sense we use it today.  Taking your kid out of school to hire him out to your neighbors?  Adopting children to work in the fields for you and not educating them?  Forcing every able-bodied person in the country to pick cotton on state farms for weeks, even very small children?  Not good, along with many other worse examples.  But adjusting the school schedule in rural areas so that kids who would already be taken out of school in the spring and fall for financial reason can get a better education?  I'm not seeing that as the most horrible option.

It's so often financial reasons that kids aren't sent to school. Improving a community's financial lot takes a long time and there will be children who won't be educated because their families can't send them to school at the appointed time and place for a host of reasons.  Might it not be reasonable to change the schedule now to meet the needs of some children while working to make it possible for every child to go to school, whatever the schedule?

*I was interested to read a conversation a few weeks ago on a message board about whether a US family in financial straits ought to use a son's earnings from a paper route to support the entire family.  Most people thought that was definitely not okay (and I can certainly understand why people would feel this way), but if my family were  having a difficult time meeting basic needs, I wouldn't  be okay with one child who was able to get a job spending money that our other children had no access to.

02 November 2011

American Kids, Kyrgyz Kids, part two

I was going to write about this in the last post, but I forgot.  After dinner last night our friends gave us a ride home in their car.  In the US it would seat five people and if you suggested that any more could fit, you'd either get a lecture about seat belts or accused of endangering your children.  Here it fit all nine of us (four adults, two big kids, and three little kids) with no problem; in fact, suggesting that it wasn't safe would have been strange. 

I remember asking on a message board once if there were any good contraptions out there for some sort of restraint that could be used in a variety of vehicles from planes to trains to buses to cars that didn't rely on the car having a seat belt, and was also portable and inexpensive.  A few people who'd lived in places like this made suggestions (although there really isn't anything out there like that that I know of), but I got more of the lectures about NEVER putting a child in a car without proper restraint.  I hope those people always live in their well-ordered world because in most of the world, things don't work out quite so neatly.

(If our friends hadn't given us a ride we would have either taken a taxi, which certainly wouldn't have had seat belts, or a marshrutka which I imagine might frighten those well-ordered American families more than the 9-people-in-the-Camry option.)

01 November 2011

American Kids, Kyrgyz Kids

We went out for pizza with some local friends this evening who have two children around the age of my little one.  They were being normal little kids and doing normal kid things which was fine with the patrons at the restaurant sitting around us.  In fact, one of the children from another table joined our group while they were drawing pictures for a couple at another table.

My American self was cringing the entire time because you.don't.do.that in the US.  But I was the only tense person; people don't mind kids here.  I went with the idea that as long as my kid wasn't the loudest and the family I was with wasn't trying to corral their kids, then everything was okay.

(Don't think they were running wild or anything like that.  They just weren't sitting quietly at the table like American kids are expected to if you take them out in public.)