Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Murder in Kara-Suu

Yesterday somebody important was murdered in Kara-Suu. A “red father,” I was told.

“Like mafia?” I asked.


At home over dinner, nobody knew who it was either.

“I heard there was a car accident,” Nigora said. “And I saw a lot of government people on TV.”

“No, it was a director,” Faruh said.

They also told me about the recent murder of a woman at the base of Suleymane mountain.

“She sold gold and bragged about how much money she had,” Nigora said. “It was her own fault for being so open and for going there at night with that guy.”

She was killed for her money by her current boyfriend. According to Nigora, the police traced the killer by cell phone calls. “He was drunk when he did it and wasn’t thinking. He wasn’t sure if she was dead or not, so he called her cell phone three or four times to see if she picked up. That’s how they caught him.”

Once we got on the subject of violence, Habib asked me, “Why are there so many cases of children shooting people in America? We can understand in Russia that people drink too much. But we don’t understand why it happens in America.”

I told him that everyone would like to find the answer, but brought up bad families, poor support networks, psychological problems and examples provided on TV as possible factors. I also explained the strong peer pressure that children in America face and the real cruelties that children can inflict upon each other.

“I know it’s much different here,” I said as I explained how important it was to have a certain kind of jeans in junior high. To them it sounds ridiculous, and rightly so.

“For that reason, we had uniforms,” Nigora said. “And we never excluded students who had problems. We’d always help them. Three or four of us would stay after school and work with the student. We’d pull them along until the ninth grade, when we could say goodbye.”

Even modern youth, the three boys, looked askance at the idea of children separating into groups. It doesn’t make sense to their collective spirit and in this regard, the lack of individualism has its advantages.

“We might be moving toward that,” Nigora said. “As we start to have fee-based and free schools. Children will start to divide.”

“Murders don’t happen very often here,” Habib said. “So when they do, everyone talks about them.” They told me how justice could be purchased from the police. “There was a guy nearby who killed a taxi driver when he was drunk. He’s in jail now and his family is selling the house.”

“Will he go free for that?”

“He probably won’t go free, but his sentence will be reduced.”

“And that money won’t go to the government,” Nigora said. “It will go in the policeman’s pocket.”

The other night I got a ride home with a policeman, who was driving a taxi after hours to make some extra money.

“My salary of $50 a month isn’t enough,” he said. He was very down on Kyrgyzstan, saying that it was a good 50 years behind the development of other countries. He studied in Moscow and loved it there (“it was so clean and orderly”) but he had to come back because he was the youngest son. Here, youngest sons are expected to live with and take care of the parents.

He had just asked me what I thought kept the development behind and I answered a combination of government and culture. The youngest son tradition was an example, I told him, of something that had it’s benefits, by making sure that parents are taken care of in their old age, but also inhibited development by preventing their children from taking advantage of opportunities. He nodded.

Ramadan, locally called Orozo, is coming up next month. I learned that there is a large demand for thermoses during Ramadan and thermos-sellers are now stocking up. I guess it makes sense. When people can’t eat, they want to carry water around with them (though those who strictly fast are also not supposed to drink). But I find it interesting to see the effects of the month-long fast on the market. For food sellers it’s OK, as people tend to eat a lot in the evenings. For cafes, business goes down. And for other vendors, they often do poorly, since almost all weddings stop during Orozo. They are able to make up for it though with the flurry of pre- and post- Orozo weddings.

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