21 May 2009

Was it cheap wine ? In Bishkek

There is so much that you cannot know about a town. So much you can never know. Like, I never knew that Bishkek had a Turkish restaurant (with private rooms, oh la la!), I never knew that there is a difference between Kyrgyz and Kyrgyz (you cannot see that I pronounced them differently) and that there is a difference between northern Kyrgyz and southern Kyrgyz and that there are 80 Kyrgyz tribes and 1200 Kyrgyz clans. I don't know a lot. So I drank the
Moldovan Merlot,
Cheateau {fake french name},
price unknown, on the table, as he spoke, the translator translated, and I listened.

There used to be rhinoceros' in Kyrgyz. The wine starts out tart, crisp but tart. But I know it will get better. He does not drink. The translator pours us more.

We had merino sheep here for a while from Australia, but the old soviet farms did not know how to take care of them and sold them before their true value for wool could be known. Wine is thin. I want to click the top of my mouth with my tongue.

There is a great Russian poet who as a theory about culture: All cultures develop over time, they reach a climax. and then they decline. We are in decline. We are disappearing because we have nothing to hold us together. Our cultures is disappearing. Our culture is dying, but every culture does after some time. I eat lavash and yoghurt dip. Wine sips get longer. The outline of his eyes smile, but they are sad. The wine gets becomes fuller.

70 years of a strong soviet government did not kill our traditions, but 17 years of market economy has wiped us out. He does not eat as he talks more. The wine is where I want it to be. Honey and plums, honey and plums, am I still the only one drinking the honey and plums? There are shrooms there too, but they do not clash. I like that.

The sad eyes of a southern Kyrgyz man, who was a reformer and is now sidelined, downtrodden, by a different kind of reform, laugh as he recounts speaking only Kyrgyz in an all Russian soviet military. And the last drops are poured into my glass. Fading thoughts of honey and plums.