Jange Jil (New Year) is a big deal here in Kyrgyzstan and like I said in a previous post, the Kyrgyz celebrate it as a kind of mash up between New Year’s and Christmas: there are trees and fireworks, a Santa-type guy, gifts, and the whole upcoming-year-expectations and previous-year-reflections atmosphere. In a lot of places around the country the celebrations were huge. There were fireworks displays all over the country with the biggest being in Ala Too Square in Bishkek. A bunch of other Volunteers made it there to see them. I’d hate to disappoint anyone by being boring, but I was not one of those Volunteers.
I was right here in Kara Suu laying low and staying warm. But just because I didn’t go to any big parties doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good time.
I started my day in the traditional way with a tall cup of coffee. The rest of the morning was spent bundled up reading “The Virginian.” (“The Virginian” is the original cowboy novel. It’s just one of a whole selection of Westerns and other South Dakota books I have on hand for whenever homesickness strikes.)
A little after noon company started coming over for tea, bread, vegetable salads, cookies, and candy. They were in and out and all the while the TV was on showing Jange Jil specials on the national broadcasting station. The shows included talents shows, traditional singing, a tongue twister competition, and others. I didn’t see it myself, but apparently “Home Alone” is a popular Jange Jil movie.
By dinner time there was a pretty good crowd of neighbors and relatives around. I was glad to have plove – an Uzbek dish with rice, carrots, and mutton – which is one of my favorite dishes. But the real special treat of the evening was a tall glass of kymyz; a big deal, it being in short supply this time of year. Also, I’ve had enough kymyz by now that I am kind of into it. I mean I probably wouldn’t drink kymyz over a coke if given the choice, but I wasn’t shy about accepting a second glass when it was offered either.
After dinner I headed for bed. (I know it’s lame, but everyone else was turning in too.) I did stay up until midnight though. I took a couple of minutes to send a really clever and original Facebook message to a couple friends about how I was a year ahead of them. Then I conked out.
It may not have been the most exciting New Year’s, (I mean I didn’t even get a kiss to ring it in. What’s that about?) but it’ll definitely be one that I remember.