July 15th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Folklore, Legends
A depiction of the Albarsty

A depiction of the Albarsty

Not long ago I wrote a post about Fairies … in which I said that “… there is no tradition of Fairies in Kyrgyz Skaski – in Kyrgyz Fairy tales” … and, indeed, that is what I had been told.

I also went on to say “… that’s not to say that they don’t have supernatural entities like spirits and sprites, giants and Genies, Witches, wizards and warlocks – in fact such supernatural beings abound … “.  One of the classic characters is Albarsty … which is sometimes translated as elves, (at least, that’s how Google Translate rendered it).

Although elves are often associated these days with ‘Santa’s little helpers’, historically, they have a deeper and darker character and role … which varies somewhat between different times and across different cultures.  In general, they appear as beings with magical powers and supernatural beauty, ambivalent towards everyday people and capable of either helping or hindering them, and in medieval times they appeared more monstrous and harmful, sharing an enmity with humans.

I have seen some other variations of translation which are, perhaps, more suitable… like monster and demon.

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July 14th, 2016 Author ian Sections: News

Screenshot_2016-07-12-15-31-12I got another SMS message on my mobile phone from the Ministry of Emergency Situations the other day.

It wasn’t addressed specifically to me … and, no … it wasn’t a secret message in code … it was a public broadcast giving a warning about severe weather conditions that had been forecast.

The Ministry is responsible for the

This particular message caught my attention because, unlike the ones that I used to get on my old mobile phone, this one wasn’t in Cyrillic but was in Russian transcribed into the Latin alphabet.  Basically it said:

14th July, during the day and through the night into the 15th July, 2016, strong winds of 18-23 meters per second are expected in various regions of the Kyrgyz Republic.  Be Careful! For further information telephone 112 or 110.

The other oddity that struck me was that it was basically an old fashioned Gale Warning.

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July 13th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat, Life In Kyrgyzstan
Chrystal Palace in 1910

Crystal Palace in 1910

It was on July 13th, 1871, that the world’s first cat show was held in London’s Crystal Palace.

Apparently, some sources say it was held on the 12th or , on the 16th, but contemproary press reports actually support the 13th.

It also has to be admitted that some sources suggest that the very first cat show was held at the St. Giles Fair in Winchester, in 1598, but there’s not much information about the event (if, indeed, it ever actually took place).

There are also some stories of other cat shows being organized in the 1860’s, including one in Crystal Palace in 1868 … but most sources seem to agree that the 1871 event really caught the public imagination and started the whole ball rolling.

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July 12th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Food and Drink, Life In Kyrgyzstan
Semechki - Sunflower seeds

Semechki – Sunflower seeds

When I first came to Kyrgyzstan, one of the things I noticed was the number of people eating ‘birdseed’.

I admit … it seemed very strange.

They would take a seed in their fingers … put it between their teeth … crack the husk and eat the kernel, spitting the husk out.  Some people took care to collect the husks, for example, in a dish or a bag … but others jsut cast them on the ground.

It seemed an awful lot of work to get a very small morsel of food …

The seed was sold in the markets and by vendors on the street … these days, however, they are also sold in supermarkets in brightliy coloured plastic packets.  It was (is) called semichki – and I came to learn that this referred to sunflower seeds.

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July 11th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Life In Kyrgyzstan
A newly laid asphalt footpath

A newly laid asphalt footpath

In the early days of the tour company, we used to give tourists advice to:

Watch your step:  The pavements, (sidewalk or footpaths – depending on wether you speak American Englilsh or British English), tend to be uneven with unexpected dips and rises … and there may be potholes or missing manhole covers … so it is very easy to miss your step, to slip, trip or fall, possibly twisting or spraining an ankle … or worse … and that’s one of the last things you need on your holiday.  It could not only ruin your day, but your whole trip … or worse.

Although things are now, generally, much better than they were back then, that advice still holds.

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July 10th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Calendar, From an Expat

Bob MarleyWhenever I am asked about the type of music that I like, I usually reply that my taste is pretty catholic … but that’s not a reference to religion, but to its more general definition as universal, all-embracing, including a wide variety or range of genres.  It tends to depend on what mood I am in – but I can listen to, and enjoy, almost anything … although I am not particularly fond of, for example, rap or … well some more esoteric styles.

Although it is not exactly esoteric, Reggae is one of those styles which I don’t often listen to … although, there are some exceptions.

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July 9th, 2016 Author ian Sections: News
An example of a 'Smart Meter'

An example of a ‘smart Meter’

Back in September, 2010, Severelektro (Northern Electric – Bishkek’s main electricity supplier … serving about half a million customers across it’s 17 organizational districts), began installing  ‘Smart Meters’ to suscribers in the capital.

A smart meter is an electronic device that records consumption of electric energy and communicates that information back by microwave wireless communication to the utility for monitoring and billing – often several times a day.

Although the term is usually used to refer to electricity supply, in theory it could apply to other utilities, such as Gas and Water supply.

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July 8th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Contemporary Kyrgyzstan, Life In Kyrgyzstan

 I was wondering why there had been a spate of reports in the media about the construction boom here in Kyrgyzstan – or, more specifically here in the capital, Bishkek.

In theory, this is all controlled, regulated, supervised and monitored by the authorities – the local authorities, the state inspectorates.  There is a grand Master Plan – called the Town Plan.

Bishkek was originally planned by military engineers when the regional administrative headquarters were moved from Tokmok to Pishpek … creating wide boulevards and a grid system of streets orientated North-South and East-to-West.   The plan has changed over the years as the city has grown and the town plan has been amended and updated, revised and modified, from time to time …

… and it’s caused us a few problems with the hotel – but that’s another story, for another postcard …

… and the latest version was approved last year.

It used to be kept secret … but apparently the veil of secrecy was lifted with the latest version … if, that is, you can find a copy.

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July 7th, 2016 Author ian Sections: From an Expat, News

We seem to be getting used to the image of Action Man Presidents and Prime Ministers … from Russia’s Putin to Canada’s Justin Trudeau, that it can be difficult for other, less sporting or less talented politicians to make their mark … that doesn’t, however, stop them trying.

Over the weekend we were treated to the release over the internet of a video clip featuring Almazbek Atambaev, President of Kyrgyzstan, performing a song that he, himself, had written.  Who would have thought of him as a singer, a songwriter … a singer-songwriter.

It certainly caught the Kyrgyz population by surprise … but it was one of those ‘pleasant surprises’ because it turns out that they quite liked his efforts.

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July 6th, 2016 Author ian Sections: Climate
I looked for a similar graphic for Kyrgyzstan ... but came up blank

I looked for a similar graphic for Kyrgyzstan … but came up blank

I am a Brit and that means that I am used to changeable weather.

It’s one of the features of our climate … being an island lying between a large land mass to the East and the ocean to the West, it’s the scene of a constant between diverse air streams, each with their own characteristics.  From the West come the maritime influences that help to shape our climate – bringing moisture and moderate temperatures, whilst the continental ones from the East bring dry and extreme influences.

The biggest influence on our climate is, of course, the Gulf Stream which brings warm waters and air from the Gulf of Mexico, up and across the North Atlantic … but colliding with colder waters and air streams, from the Polar and Arctic regions, forms large and powerful frontal depressions in the Mid-Atlantic zone, that then pass across and into Europe, and which dominate the British climate.

This continuous conflict between different airmasses, helps to create the temperate climate that keep winters relatively mild and – most of the time – prevents excessively not summers developing … but creating a capricious, erratic, fickle, fluid, mercurial, temperamental, uncertain, unpredictable, unreliable, unsettled, unsteady, vacillating, variable, volatile, wavering, and even whimsical pattern of weather conditions, that changes from day to day – both between different regions and also within different regions of the country.

Consequently it is very difficult to predict or forecast the weather and makes the weather the favourite topic of conversation whenever two Brits meet …

On the other hand, there’s a saying that, in Kyrgyzstan, ‘it is possible to experience four seasons in one day‘.

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