Monday, November 01, 2004

7:45 a.m. in Osh

This morning I left my apartment for work. As I began to walk down the five flights of stairs, I saw a creature race down one flight in front of me. Initially thinking it was a rat, I froze in fear, then realized that it was a bird, the source of the loud twitterings I often hear in the morning.

I emerged onto the street in the cool, sunny air. The empty, faded playground stood still. I walked along the Soviet style apartment building, reading the graffiti and marveling that this is one of the most exclusive areas in Osh. I was looking for a garbage can, since I still didn’t know where to throw my garbage away. I saw a pile of plastic bags in the grass near my building and another pile of leaves and garbage on the street, near a bus stop, but no actual bins.

I passed the taxis, lined up in their usual spot, and crossed the street. The vendor who usually sets up a table within the fenced in Foreign Languages faculty hadn’t arrived yet and the street was strangely silent. The swishing sound of the street sweepers followed me as I walked to work. At least four people were sweeping per block, using clumps of branches tied together as brooms. They worked intently, sweeping the dried leaves into gutters, then setting the piles on fire.

No one seemed to be out but me and the street sweepers. The old woman who usually sells sunflower seeds and cigarettes on a corner was just putting out her wares. Usually she sits ready when I walk by, watching the passerbys from her small chair, her head wrapped in a colorful scarf. On this morning, there were no other pedestrians and very few cars. I felt unusually tuned into my surroundings.

Dirty water ran under the sidewalk, appearing in pools and canals tinkling, somehow retaining a blue color. Pigeons cooed and fluttered amidst branches, dropping some of the last dried leaves to the ground. Smoke rose from burning leaves and garbage. With the golden carpet dried up and swept away, my feet tapped against the uneven sidewalk.

I arrived at work and found it dark and empty. The suspicion had been growing and I finally had to accept it - daylight savings time had occurred without anyone telling me. It was actually 6:45 in Osh.

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