i’m back in kyrgyzstan, for a week of working with our shyrdak artisans; on patterns, on dyes, on materials… very excited to be here. i love to launch my trips here with a visit to bishkek’s osh bazaar, one of my favorite-ever destinations (text from last year’s blog entry/visit is italicized below). yesterday, i spent time with these ever-so-glamorous, sausage-selling russian ladies. we toasted with vodka (which they keep in steady supply via large vats stored beneath the counter).
we then toasted to a succession of other things (the details of which are a little fuzzy in the retelling).
a fitting start to the trip. and the beginning of what is sure to be an oft-repeated ritual.
za zdorovie! (“to your health!” in russian). den-sooluk uchun! (the same, in kyrgyz).
to visit bishkek’s osh market is to witness the city’s vitality manifest itself in full force - it’s a true assault to the senses, in the very best of ways. beyond the somewhat mind-boggling array of offerings, it’s the mix of cultures and ethnicities represented that strikes most strongly. it’s a testament - in microcosmic form - to the incredible diversity present in the make-up of the kyrgyz nation.
on view, each in a distinct section: spices + vegetables from the dungans and uyrgurs (muslims from western china), dried fruits and nuts from the southern regions of kyrgyzstan, salads and assorted kimchee from the koreans, dairy + flowers from the turks (a catch-all term for the turkish and the armenians), meat + fish + honey from the russians… endlessly fascinating.