By Kiri Kim, Production Coordinator
It’s already been over a month (one month and two weeks to be exact) since my team and I arrived here in Kyrgyzstan. And what an amazing sweet adventure it has been thus far! For those of you who know me, I love traveling, and as a military brat, I’ve been constantly exposed to traveling all my life. I love packing and traveling to the unknown, eating dishes you can barely even pronounce, and most importantly, meeting and making new friends.
Before heading to Kyrgyzstan, thinking of all this made me even more excited because I knew that Alya’s journey to Kyrgyzstan would be a craaazy one. Everything that I’ve expected about Kyrgyzstan was true, but one thing that I didn’t really think much of was the local Kyrgyz language.
Learning a language is one of my biggest weakness. As much as I love traveling, speaking a new language is a struggle, and let me tell you, as of right now, the struggle is real.
A couple weeks ago one morning, our team really wanted to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast. We were out of eggs, so the team asked me to go buy some eggs at the “Dukon” (super market) that’s right around the corner.
At this point, my Kyrgyz language proficiency consisted of 8% of actual Kyrgyz words and 92% of sign/body language (think of Charades). And sadly, time to time, I catch myself speaking Arabic to the locals (since I studied Arabic for one year).
Anyways, back to the egg story.
So I walked over to the store. Before heading over, I asked my teammates how to say “egg” in Kyrgyz just in case I didn’t see any eggs around the store.
So there I was, casually walking around that mini store (it’s super tiny- like the size of an average bedroom) looking for eggs. My eyes began to shift and scan from shelf to shelf in search for the eggs. I walk inside around the store again and again.
By the fourth time I went around, I realized that there were no eggs… at least from what I saw, there were none in that store. But deep within me, I knew there had to be eggs. A couple days before, Spencer bought eggs from this store! It’s just that it’s hidden, or out of stock. So I immediately thought to myself, "Egg...Egg… how do you say egg?? Kiri you’ve got this- you know this! Esther told you how to say egg."
So imagine me, in the middle of the store, just standing and thinking to myself, trying to think of how to say “egg" in Kyrgyz.
All this time, Baike (“Mister” in Kyrgz) the store owner, looks at me curiously. I mumble under my breath, “Egg… egg… Athum (which means “egg” in arabic)... Egg.. Egg…. Aaahhh shoot!”
My mission was clear: buy 10 eggs from the store.
My 3-minute trip to the market soon became a 10-minute trip. All I could think of is how badly my team wanted to eat eggs for breakfast, and I knew I had to ask Baike for eggs. Asking him wouldn’t hurt at all… it just took a lot of effort to describe an egg to him, that’s all.
So I boldly ask Baike, “Moshna Baike, barbeh…?” and I quickly motioned with my finger an egg, a round small circle. Baike looks at me and he totally didn’t understand me.
So I repeated and said, “Umm.. Baike, barbeh….” I motioned a small circle with my finger.
This time, he looked all the more confused.
Uh-oh… My head screamed, “Ahhhhhh! An egg!! I just want eggs!!!” Then out of no where, a brilliant idea came to my head! I knew exactly what to do. I quickly asked him the third time, “Baike, barbeh?” and I motioned with my two arms, a chicken flapping its wings. As I was flapping my arms like a mad person, I asked him, “Baike, bok bok booook!” And I then motioned with my finger again, a small circle. “Bok bok bok! Chicken, chicken! Bok bok bok!”
The Baike looked at me, and immediately he bursts out laughing, and says, “Ahhh! Obbaa, Obbaa! (yes, yes) Barbeh, barbeh!! (there is, there is!)” He quickly goes to the back of the store counter, and below the counter he shows me a full stock of fresh brown eggs.
And at the moment, I was beyond happy. Seeing those eggs brought me to great joy. I immediately motioned to Baike ten fingers and said, “Baike, ohn! Ohn pajalushta.” (Mister, ten, ten please.)
Mission complete. I walked home beyond satisfied. Yes, I may have looked foolish, and even completely crazy, but I’m glad I was able to buy the eggs for our team. On top of that, I made Baike laugh. After that incident, every time I go to that store, Baike always smiles and we both know why :)
This egg story of mine is one of the many stories I have. Learning a language is a struggle, but a good struggle, and I still remain hopeful with my own personal journey of mastering the Kyrgyz language. One day… :)