Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Нандын жыты | Nandın cıtı

Жаңы бышкан нандын жыты,
Күндүн жайкы ысыгы.
Нан көп болсо үйдүн куту,
Эки беттин кызылы.
Cangı bışkan nandın cıtı
Kündün caykı ısıgı
Nan köp bolso üydün kutu
Eki bettin kızılı
Жаңы бышкан нандын даамы,
Жалпы дыйкан эмгеги.
Бүткүл элдин жүрөк каны,
Кен байлыгы жердеги.
Cangı bışkan nandın daamı
Calpı dıykan emgegi
Bütkül eldin cürök kanı
Ken baylıgı cerdegi
Жаңы бышкан нандын жыты,
Жазган ыры акындын.
Көзгө сүйкүм тынчтык кушу,
Күч-кубаты баатырдын.
Cangı bışkan nandın cıtı
Cazgan ırı akındın
Közgö süyküm tınçtık kuşu
Küç-kubatı baatırdın
Жаңы бышкан нандын даамы,
Ата-Журттун дымагы.
Ошондуктан элдин нугу,
Эзелтеден тынбады.
Cangı bışkan nandın daamı
Ata-Curttun dımagı
Oşonduktan eldin nugu
Ezelteden tınbadı

Singer: Gülnur Satylganova (Kyrgyzstan)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Human Places

Lausanne, 2013
Saturday 2 March 2013: Switzerland. Lausanne Metro, Montelly en route to Vigie. I was on exchange to EPFL and was on the way to town to see a snowboarding contest. A guy who was drinking a can of beer was on the same train. We had a disagreement on whether the window should be opened or closed. He opened the window. The middle and ring fingers on my right hand were on the hinge, and were trapped. I tried to pull them out. He closed the window. I stared at him. The train pulled up at Vigie. I got off the train muttering incomprehensibly - c'est bien... c'est tout bien... - but the fingers were flattened and the blood was dripping out from the cuts on each finger and made a mess of the platform. I went up the steps to street level, but felt faint and sat down. The blood dripped and made a mess of the steps. The other passengers also went up the steps at this time, passing me by. One person, two persons... I looked up and saw a granny. She looked at me with fear in her eyes. She went on her way.

I was alone in the metro station. I did not know what to do. I went back down to the platform. I sucked on my fingers. The next train arrived shortly after at Vigie, and out came Vincent, who was on exchange from NTU and knew me. I asked him for help and he agreed. He brought me to a place nearby where a bunch of Taiwanese folk were selling bubble tea. We asked them for help and they agreed, pointing us towards the nearest pharmacy in Flon. The pharmacists sold me antiseptic and plasters. I patched up and we went to the snowboarding contest. We linked up with three other exchange students at Place Riponne, where a huge crowd had already gathered. I felt tired and asked to leave. The others knew of what had happened earlier, but did not seem to understand why I would want to give up the chance of seeing some random snowboarders. I insisted to leave anyway.

The cuts took some weeks to heal. It's not clear if this sort of thing happens to every other shithead who throw themselves into this country for half a year and for no good reason, but it felt like I had a bone to pick with everyone for a good time after that day. It seemed to be that no one in the country can be expected to show kindness, and no one can be trusted to understand. If you wanted to be here to overeat, get smashed and forget about tomorrow, it was completely acceptable; but at the moment you were hurt and needed help, you were swept under the rug: silly foreigner, you were never meant to be here, go home.

I looked for human places wherever I went: I wanted simply to live and I wanted to be with people where they lived. I wanted to get to business as a person and not as a somewhat lucrative intrusion into the local economy. I found human places in many more places in Switzerland, notwithstanding that earlier mishap. In the woods near my home (Bois-Gondou) was a place where two strangers meeting on a path could greet each other warmly, unlike in the city. In the underpass at Renens station a young Chinese girl helped me with carrying my luggage when I moved out, then a young man who lived at Brugg helped me with navigating the town and gave good conversation during the bus trip. It seemed that such generosity became more frequent and more dominant of the social order the further one travelled from the megalopolises.

I am always dismayed to hear of tourists visiting Singapore and returning only to report that my country is a "shopping mall with an airstrip" or "Disneyland with the Death Penalty". Maybe they judged our country by the extremely attention-grabbing and glamorous Central District, but this judgment is unfair because they have not seen the truly human places in Singapore, the places where things like tourist revenue and national reputation are irrelevant and human decency retains some currency. I looked out of the 33rd storey of the Marina Financial Centre into Downtown and thought despondently: This is not Singapore, this is Legoland! How I wished I was looking at Pulau Ubin instead, or the Central Catchment forests, or the towns where I grew up in! And how I wished to point out to my visiting friends the routes and byways that traced the stories of my childhood, and the charms of the people who simply lived and were happy.