Tuesday, March 20, 2007

#44: Nooruz and more

Today when I was waiting in line for my propiska (Soviet-era registration), I overheard a dialogue between an ethnic Kyrgyz policeman and an ethnic Russian technician both working in Leninskiy Passport Department. The policeman, in his early 30s, complained that the technician, in late 50s, blocked the passage as he was fixing something. Then the policeman out of nowhere says "You should respect me today. It is our New Year," meaning Nooruz. The technician responds by saying "It is my holiday, too." However, the policeman makes even more laughable and unbelievably stupid statement. He says "Our new year is Nooruz. Your [meaning ethnic Russian] new year is January 1st."

Unfortunately, over 80 years of living side by side most of the ethnic Russians and ethnic Kyrgyz in Kyrgyzstan continue living in two different dimensions - culturally, politically, and socially. To this day, most Russian landlords would not rent apartments to non-Russians. Moreover, they would advertise their apartments in newspapers with a racist note "only for Europeans," meaning whites, as opposed to “innostrantsy” or foreigners. Both Russians and Kyrgyz (and Uzbeks for that matter) regularly discriminate each other based on ethnicity. Some of it based on believes of racial superiority. Each ethnic group has derogatory name for each other. Kyrgyz call Russians “jün bash,” which literally means “woolhead,” and Russians call Kyrgyz (or Central Asians in general) “churka,” a derivative of “cherniy,” which is black in Russian.

Friday, March 16, 2007

#43: Latin Kîrgîz

I came accross a proposed Kazakh alphabet in Latin, which reminds me of the necessity for the Kyrgyz language to switching back to Latin script.

The year I came back from the U.S., I had a T-shirt with names of exchange students printed on the back. My late grandfather, who was then 70, could read them because when he went to school in 30s he was taught the Kyrgyz in Latin script. I was really suprised at that moment. Kyrgyz language was initially written in Arabic script up untill 1929, when the Soviet introduced the Latin. However, in 1940 a Cyrillic script was adopted for the Kyrgyz language.

The Latin script could help the Kyrgyz language to develop independently from the Russian, by introducing Kyrgyz words to replace Russian words used frequently in Kyrgyz. However, the question whether Kyrgyzstan can afford or not such an expensive undertaking is another issue.

Jaşasîn Kîrgîz tili!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

#42: First day at work

My first working day at a new place is over. I have great impressions so far: interesting colleagues, good assistants, understanding supervisors, and the location of my office, which is one block away from my house. Another advantage of this place is that now I can have lunch in any of the hundreds of cafes downtown. In general, I enjoyed my first day. Had important meetings and talked about organizing one event. Already received a lot info on several other events. Have to plan a trip to the regions. It is always better to start a new job with a big task, instead of taking off slowly.

Well, my new job is very much similar to my previous one. However, the difference between them is like being a small fish in a big ocean and being a big fish in a small pond.

I have to remind that the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not represent those of my family, friends, employer, or any other person.

Good luck to all.