Friday, November 03, 2006

Neighborhood Changes

October 23, 2006

I notice two main changes in my neighborhood during my absence. One, most unfortunately, is that the nice playground that went up with the new building across the street, has been destroyed. Only the slide still stands.

When the toys appeared, they drew the neighborhood children out until 10 p.m., flying in circles on the spinning chairs, swinging, sliding. It made me smile to see their joy. But now, they seem to have been dismantled, only the skeletal frames remaining.

I asked our driver, Sergei, what might have happened.

“Someone probably stole the metal and sold it as scrap to China,” he said.

That’s a very depressing thought.

The second change is that the mosque seems to have installed more powerful speakers. Or they are turning them up for Ramadan. I can now hear the evening call to prayer in my apartment, when I never could before. This brings back memories from Osh, where the call to prayer would float through the air over dinnertime, a lulling, mystical melody.

The mosque has a new sign on its fence advertising an SMS Islam service. Given the veils and traditional dress I see in that area, I find it funny to also see the mosque embracing cell phone modernity. I commented on it to Sergei.

“Islam is gaining more and more followers throughout the world,” he said. “We white people are a bad race. We’re always fighting with each other. But the Muslims support each other. For that reason, they grow strong.”

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