Seb's Big Adventure
Since arriving at the small and deserted airfield in Osh just a over a week ago, the reality of being here on work has long set in. I will be based here for at least another two weeks before heading out to 'site' in the mountains. I have found, however, that working in a country is perhaps the best way to become directly involved in the local culture. While I was in China, I think that my view was perhaps warped by staying in nice hotels, visiting major tourist attractions, travelling around the country quickly - that's I guess what you do on a short tour. Here, however, there are no tourist attractions (at least, not many). I have met and work with local as well as British people. I am staying in a normal local house and eating local food, no different to everyday life for the people here. The food. Now that's one thing that I find particularly interesting. I don't know whether to love it or hate it. Compared to the food in China, it's much more European. For starters, I recognise what's going on, rather than wondering what the hell I'm eating. That said, the food is basic. The meat is incredibly fatty - in fact, I've heard that opposite to the way we eat meat in England, it's the fat that's the good part here. It provides energy and fat for the bitterly cold winters. Fair enough. I avoid the chewiest pieces myself! There's a lot of rice, potatoes, and they love their melons - all grown locally in the Fergana valley. On Saturday night the small group of us from the office went to a local restaurant, Nirvana, where I had a large pizza - the first taste of western food since I've arrived, and a well-earned break from the local stuff. Beers ('piva') and a seemingly endless amount of vodka ('voda') kept on arriving at the table, and at some point around 9pm the restaurant turned into an outside 'disco'. About 10 tracks were played on a repeating loop, mainly Russian techno and rap, and MC Hammer. The restaurant owner spent the next 2 hours desperately encouraging people onto the 'dancefloor' with a microphone and some actually not bad dance moves. Shortly after 11pm it all quietened down and the place shut, almost like being back in England.