July 26th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Calendar, From an Expat

Apparently, … and, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea where this comes from … today is All or Nothing day.

It seems that the idea is encourage people to:

  • … break through the barriers that normally hold them back;
    • … gird their loins,
    • … taking it on the chin
    • … ignore the fears and reservations
    • … throw caution to the wind and ‘go for it’;
  • … and take action …
  • … take risks … and live on the edge
  • … live as if this is their last day on earth
  • … cross the rubicon and
    • … like,Julius Caesar, burn bridges , or
    • … like William the Conqueror before the Battle of Hastings burn their boats
  • … Sieze the day.

To be honest. it’s not a day with which I have a lot of sympathy.  All or Nothing implies a sense of desparation …


Comments Off on Carpe diem
July 25th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat, Life In Kyrgyzstan

forbiddenSometimes, people jokingly tell me that after twenty one years here in Kyrgyzstan, I have become Kyrgyz … or at least half-Kyrgyz.

After five years it is possible to apply for a residence permit – which I have done – or even for a Kyrgyz passport … but, as that involves giving up my British passport, (with some exceptions, dual nationality is not permitted under Kyrgyz legislation), I haven’t taken that step.

However, it is true that in some other, more informal, respects, I have, somewhat, ‘gone native’.

For example, I was told many years ago that people here don’t ever want to give ‘bad news’ … they don’t want to disappoint or offend … so they find ways of avoiding it … saying something like, “that it is a good question” – but never answering it; putting off a definite decision or opinion with a ‘Let’s see …’ perhaps backed , ‘… without  making any promises’); evading the issue, perhaps by addressing a different point, … and, of course, using the time honoured Maybe …

Just like the Japanese, apparently, have thirty odd ways of saying ‘No’ without actually using the word

 … and over the years I have found myself adopting this approach more and more.


Comments Off on Saying ‘No’
July 24th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat
E. F. Benson

E. F. Benson

I am often asked ehat I miss about England here in Kyrgyzstan … and one of the answers I offer from time to time, is the availability of books in English.  There are books in English to be found, but the range can be somewhat eclectic.  As it happens, that can be both a disappointment … but also an attraction.  One of the great pleasures of a bookstore was not knowing exactly what gems you might find or come across.

Some years ago I was asked by my Russian Teacher, who were my favourite authors … who did I enjoy reading.

It was quite an eclectic list … and, to be honest, I don’t think she had heard of many of those that I named … she was prablably waiting for me to name peoplke like, Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. She had heard of Grahame Green, but not his ‘successor’ Brian Moore, or Julian Barnes, or John Grisham, or …

Passing about contemporary authors, (I still count Grahame Green as ‘contemporary’ … but that’s probably because I can remember – and identify with – the world that he wrote about), she asked about more classical authors.

I am not sure what she would have made of it, if had mentioned Edward Fredrick Benson – better known as E.F. Benson.


Comments Off on E. F. Benson
July 22nd, 2016 Author ian Sections: Tourism

A conversation with a colleague, the other day, brought to mind an old English idiom, proverb, adage: that Familiarity breeds contempt:

… if you know someone very well, or experience something a lot, then you stop respecting them …


Mountain Peaks

Mountain Peaks



Comments Off on Familiarity and contempt
July 21st, 2016 Author ian Sections: Language

Tirana Museum – one of the highlights of the tour

One of the stangest days in my life was the day I ended up in Tirana, the capital of Albania.

The country was just opening up to Western visitors and the trip wasn’t exactly planned in advance.  I was actually on holiday with some friends in Montenegro, (in what remained of Yugoslavia), when we saw a poster advertising tour to Albania, and it seemed like to good an opportunity to pass up … so we walked into the office and booked our seats.

It was a fascinating and memorable trip … although many of the details with have faded from my memory … However, there are still many that I can recall with remarkable clarity.


Comments Off on … better than the original
July 20th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Calendar, Contemporary Kyrgyzstan, Organizations
The MiG 21-F on Kievskaya

The MiG 21-F on Kievskaya

In the center of Bishkek there’s a great photo opportunity … along Kievskaya there is a MiG 21-F fighter plane mounted on a pedestal.   (I wrote a postcard about it a few years ago).

It is one of a number of similar monuments around the country; such as planes – as here and outside Tokmok, and Tanks – for example in Balykchy and Naryn.

It stands outside the headquarters of the National Guards.

Although I find the plane interesting and dramatic, personally, I prefer the two stylized statues that flanking the entrance to the building … one a soldier in Medieval attire, and the other his modern counterpart in a flight suit.

Today happens to be the Day of the National Guard here in Kyrgyzstan.


Comments Off on National Guard
July 19th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Government and Politics, Organizations

tazalykIt’s a tradition in most societies, that students find some form of employment to help earn some money – to cover living expenses … and also help cover the cost of fees if they don’t qualify for state support and a grant.

For example, as a student I worked as a Barman during the holidays … and earned enough to help keep me solvent during term time.  Some of my fellow students were a little envious my job, apparently it appeared a little glamourous to some people,  Believe me, it wasn’t.

One of my fellow students had a less solubrious job to support himself … one that raised a few eyebrows whenever it was mentioned … he woerked as a street cleaner.  It seems that he actually quite enjoyed it … out in the open air … working indepedently … with few cares or worries … and a great camraderie among his fellow workers.

As it happens, he didn’t really enjoy being a student teacher … and soon gave up and went back home … but we lost touch and I am not sure if he went back to being a Street cleaner.

Here in Bishkek, the street cleaners are employed by the Municipal Enterprise – Tazalyk.


Comments Off on Tazalyk – Cleanliness
July 18th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat, IT


I was somewhat taken aback the other day when I came home day to find Andy and some friends squating on the lfoor playing Nardi – Backgammon.

What’s more, they talked about wanting to play Chess.

Maxim is very fond of cards – but mainly the Russian game of Durak – Fool – a game I have never got the hang of.

I was surprised because I am so used to them playing computer games … shoot-em-up style … which is something else I have never really got the hang of.

As it happens, Maxim has downloaded n app for Durak and can be seen playing on his telephone and can often be seen sitting quietly on the coach cluthing his mobile phone … tapping and swiping the touch screen as another hand gets despatched.

Computer games are so ubiquitous in the modern world that it is hard to imagine just how far they have come in such a short space of time.

Topday happens to be the ‘birthday’ of one of the mosty successful computer games … created in 1985 and still around today , having been poted to all computer platforms – albeit in different guises – Tetris.


Comments Off on Tetris
July 17th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Calendar, Maths-Stats

tear-off-calendarToday is a special day for me … as I get to commemorate three of favourite themes … trivia, maths in several of its guises, and the calendar.  You see, today is 17th July … and that means it’s Yellow Pig Day.

… and, yes, I can already hear the exasperated cries of What?!

Actually, it’s also World Emoji Day … but that’s another story … Yellow Pigs are much more interesting … although, I am pretty sure that not everyone will share my interest in the day …

Still, it’s my blog and I get to choose the topics(!)


Comments Off on Yellow Pig Day
July 16th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat, Religion
Meteora - Holy Trinity AgiaTriada

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Meteora ,,, in Greece … not Kyrgyzstan

Maxim, (when he’s not taking photographs), is studying Tourism … I have no idea why – he chose the course himself without me trying to exercise any influence whatsoever … and even if I had offered some advice, he would have listened and said “Thank you”, but would have still decided for himself.

For one of his assignments he asked me if I had ever heard of Meteora … and was surprised when I said, “Yes, I’ve been there.”

“What?!” he exclaimed, “Is there anywhere you haven’t been?”, to which I replied “Yes, lots of places, … “, and started rattling off a list of places: Sary Chelek, Aktyn Arashan, Lake Kel Tor, Batken, Khan Tengri, Safed Bulan,  …

for the record, they are all here in Kyrgyzstan.

When he realized what I was doing, he asked about other places – not in Kyrgyzstan … so I added “Stonehenge, Aberystwyth, Land’s End and John O’Groats, Hastings, Milford Haven …  ”

for the record, they are all in Britain

… and when he worked out what I was doing he rephrased the question asking about other places “around the world” … so I added: “The Amazon Rain Forest, The Argentinian Pampas, the Pyramids in Egypt, Mediterranean islands like Cyprus and Malta, Poland and the Baltic States, the Forbidden City in Beijing, Ayers Rock in Australia, The Grand Canyon …”

for the record, they are places I really would like to visit – places that might make it onto my Bucket list when it’s time

… and then, finally: the Moon

for the record: that’s my usual riposte when people say they would like something that, I think, is unrealistic … “Yes, and I want to go for a walk on the Moon … but that’s not going to happen either!“.


Comments Off on The Great Divide