Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bishkek at Igor's place

We got a ride to Bishkek from a village near Khadzi-Say. The driver was an old man and he had some Igor in the front passeger seat. He didn't want to take us for no money but Igor said: come on, whatever, just take them. He dropped us at his house in north-central Bishkek, we can sleep there he said. We went to some store nearby and Igor bought food. Ilona wanted to buy something as well but it only seemed to make Igor unconfortable.
We thought that like at Vacho's place in georgia, Igor is expecting Ilona to cook. But Igor knows his way in the kitchen and he prepares us a big improvised meal.
He doesn't talk much.
"Can we help?"
"Just let it be"
And this is his answer to a lot of subjects. Igor is of greek descent but Kyrgyz natinal, he is divorced and has a daughter is never sees. His garden is left the hands of anarchy. Weeds are growing unharmed and unthreathened. The most common plant after weeds are a variant of long pumpkins lying on the ground and sometimes hanging from the ceiling over our heads. Igor believes in that mess we can also find tomatoes but so far we havent seen any. Either way he knows how to use the mess that is his garden to create some edible food. Not only edible, it was actually quite good, even Ilona said she wouldn't be able to cook that stuff.
Everything at Igor's place dates from soviet times. He doesn't let any non-soviet product in his house. "Especially not these Chinese shit products that break after 2 monts."
"This clock is from 1951," he sais proudly, "I have to turn the spring only once a week and it still works"
Igor also has a radio that tunes only to one frequency. It still works but the frequency doesn't exist anymore. He keeps it anywway. "I could hit it with an axe, it wouldn't break. It would just break the axe if it's a chinese axe."
After 40 years of loyal service, his fridge he bought in 1970 finally broke. The thought of buying a new fridge from these "chinese assholes" was so depressing that he went on a mission of buying a newer but still soviet machine. He found a new fridge from 1975 which didn't work but had the parts he needed. He was now repairing it for several weeks. Igor doesn't like to go fast. He likes to get up late, slowly drink his tea and then go smoke a cigarette outside. Then, he plays with his dog a little. Her name is "Neni" and she is a beautiful hunting dog, still a puppy. She runs around the garden like crazy and jumps at everyone. After playing with the dog he eats a little something. If he is very motivated he tries to cook something from the nothing of his reserves and of his garden. If he is extremly motivated he even goes to buy something but that requires exceptional circumstances, like us being here.
Either way, Igor doesn't like to go out alone. After being isolated in his soviet home for too long, he started developping a slight fear of the outside world. Usually either me or both of us go with him.
During lunch, a raio plays always the same station, Evropa Plus, a compilation of european summer hits for the last five years. We are hearing always the same songs but are both happy for the familiar european tunes.
Igor himself is from european descent, his grandfather was greek but he's happy to be Kyrgyz. At least as happy as someone like Igor could get.
After lunch, Igor repairs his fridge. Not too much, just a little, about half an hour. He gets bored and tired of it very quickly. Then he goes to sleep or watch TV. He is a big fan of conspiracy theories. He believes the theory that Aliens have helped in the construction of pyramids, that 9/11 was an orchestrated by america and that Israel is the mastermind behind pretty much all the evil in the world.
He also doesn't like Uzbekistan and the Chinese but let's be honest, who does?

Igor and Ilona at lunch
In the afternoon, me and Ilona go to the city to take care of administrative stuff. Basically, I need a visa to China but the adminitrative road is full of troubles. When we come back, dinner is waiting for us already and Igor tries to get us drunk with his home-made wine.
"Come on, this is not alcohol, this is compot!", he keeps repeating
The days keep ligning up as we get deeper and deeper into the administrative spiral.

This is a stressful situation in a general sense but it is even more stressful when the place you stay at has a ticking clock. And when you hitchhike and live at people's places who host you from their own good will, every place has a ticking clock. Fortunately, Igor is happily host us for one week.
"This is not europe," he says, "stay for as long as you like and stop thinking about it."
He always discards our questions if we don't bother him by staying that long by a bored hand gesture saying: "this is not worth talking about".
The Chinese embassy in Bishkek tells us to go back on thrusday. They don't even speak english, they just speak Chinese and russian. The Kazakh embassy tells me I have to go to a bank to make a money transfer to them. I make the money transfer, I ask for my visa the next day. On thursday the chinese say that it is possible to apply for a visa while being a foreigner. Ilona's reason why she had to go just vanished. However when I ask to apply for the chinese visa they actually find out that I need a six month visa in Kyrgyzstan and therefore a working permit. These chinese embassy workers, they are the worst. They don't even know they own visa rules for their own country. I learned by experience that with only a few exceptons consulate workers were incompetent assholes but the chinese set the record pretty high.
They send me to Miss Liu, the local agent who handles tourists who go to china without having an explicit invitation (ie almost all of them). I get to meet her in Bishkek and she says to me the same thing she told me over the phone when I called her from Ananyevo. Except I got to see her in person.
She was really kind and smiled when I told her "rensi ni hen gaoxing", I'm glad to meet you in my horrible chinese accent.
So I went to the office for visa extentions in Bishkek. I kind of got used to handling the administrative business in russian and I take some pride in that. The first office told me they didn't do visa extentions for six months unless I had aw working  permit and that I should complain to the ministry of foreign affairs of Kyrgyzstan because the chinĂ©ese really oversteped this time. I went to the ministery of foreign affairrs with the firm thought of asking Kyrgtzstan to start a war on China, I'll even give them all my money to wage it; at least if there is a war, borders are & vague concept.

The ministry of foreign affairs turned to be another office for visa prolongation. There were so many people that I never got the chance to be laug hed at when I ask for my six months proolongation.
So I went to the embassy of Kazakhstan and asked for anther Kazakh visa, this time for flexible dates if I decided to prolong my Kyrgyz visa in the end.
They told me to come back in 5 days which I did and they still didn't have it but at least the guy apoligized.