Lagman: Central Asian Noodles & Broth

Lagman (лагман) is a dish that is very common in Central Asia, China, and much of Russia. While the basic recipe has perhaps hundreds of local variations, this simple and filling dish always consists of noodles floating in broth or soaked in a savory sauce with vegetables and often features meat, spices, and various savory […]

Victory Day: Student Observations

Victory Day is celebrated every May 9th in many countries across the former Soviet space. This public holiday gives often multiple days off and celebrates the end of The Great Patriotic War (which is WWII as experienced in the USSR). Estimates vary, but about 37 million Soviet people died in the war from causes ranging […]

Banyas in Bishkek – Cultural Experience

Banya (a washing house) has remained a part of the Russian culture since ancient times, carrying all sorts of traditionally obtained meanings including religious, symbolic and medicinal. The banya was officially endorsed by the Soviets as a health facility and its use spread throughout Eurasia. It remains popular for health and recreation throughout the post-Soviet […]

Kyrgyz on Kyrgyz Female Role Models

Editor’s note: Women’s rights suffered greatly in Kyrgyzstan after the fall of the USSR. Violent traditions such as “bride kidnapping,” where women are kidnapped and forced into marriages became common and even praised by some locals who (mistakenly) believed it to be an ancient national tradition. The spread of Islam, which is traditional in Kyrgyzstan, […]

The Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the above right is an English transliteration of the Kyrgyz translation. Below the English transliteration is a Russian transliteration. Kyrgyz uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet nearly identical to the Russian. In the center of each row is a […]

Manas: The Kyrgyz Odysseys, Moses, and Washington

The main thing to know about Manas is that it is epic. Created, most historians believe, more than a millennia ago, it is one of the world’s longest poems at more than half a million lines. It has been written down more than sixty times from various bards, creating a different version each time. It […]

Home Sweet Yurt

Yurts are felt-covered, portable housing that have long been used throughout Central Asia. Although the region is urbanizing, the Kyrgyz still know and follow the traditional customs that surround the traditional yurt. Hospitality is revered in the traditionally poor country of Kyrgyzstan. As soon as they see a new arrival, neighbors will come to meet […]

Ruh-Ordo Complex: Multiconfessional Site in Kyrgyzstan

If you visit Lake Issyk-Kul during the summer, check out the Ruh-Ordo Complex at Cholpon-Ata. This complex is an open air museum with beaches that boats an array of sculptures and cultural pieces, along with buildings devoted to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, and Russian Orthodox Christianity. There are also a few other buildings with art […]

Kyrgyz Horse Games – a Day Trip from Bishkek

This year elections for the Issyk-Kul region were coming. This does not affect life much as a temporary student in Kyrgyzstan except that it means that the Бир Бол political party set up the Horse Games with free entrance for anyone! This was only a half hour walk outside of Cholpon-Ata. The games started about […]

National Kyrgyz Horse Games

This year elections for the Issyk-Kul region were coming. This does not affect life much as a temporary student in Kyrgyzstan except that it means that the Бир Бол political party set up the National Kyrgyz Horse Games (Национальные конно-спортивные игры) with free entrance for anyone! This was only a half hour walk outside of […]

Jewish Bishkek: A Brief History and Guide

My experience with the Jewish community in Bishkek began on a weekday evening in September. I did not really expect to find a synagogue on Suyumbayev Street. I had been following the gradually narrowing road for blocks, eventually across the wide Jibek-Jolu Avenue. On the other side of this thoroughfare, Suyumbayev was sidewalk-less, and full […]

Central Asian Culinary Discoveries

As an American having lived in Moscow for the past 12 years, I’m fairly well acquainted with Central Asian culture. Much of Central Asia was incorporated into the Russian Empire and was part of the USSR. Today, the majority of immigrants to Moscow come from Central Asia. Thus, finding examples of Central Asian cuisine, dress, […]

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