They say a picture tells a thousand words but even images fail to capture the true beauty of Kyrgyzstan. Having spent over twenty days in China, the GOLA team was really looking forward to crossing the border into Kyrgyzstan. The sight that greeted us on the other side promised us an amazing experience. We were greeted by customs officers with cheery smiles and a ton of curiosity. “Welcome to Kyrgyzstan”, one of them chirped. Then and there, the small nation had my heart.
Our days spent in Kyrgyzstan were absolutely delightful, as we crossed paths with some of the nicest people we have ever met. Lovely dinners with local strangers and home cooked Indian biryani for dinner with our elderly host couple at a guest house, rolling green hills and pristine waters, wild horses that run free in the meadows and delicious local snacks and savouries that kept our taste buds company through the ride.
Bollywood diplomacy is real. I never really understood the real impact that Indian cinema has had on the world…till now. From Shahrukh Khan to Mithun Chakraborthy, we’ve found that in foreign lands, popular Bollywood references are the best ice breakers. For some reason, the movie “Disco Dancer” is extremely popular in Kyrgyzstan. Be it the local cops or shopkeepers at the corner store – I’ve lost count of the number of times people have pointed at us singing the song ‘Jimmy’. At first, I thought it was a one off thing but as we drove through the country I realised that “Disco Dancer” (for a reason I still don’t know) is so deeply ingrained in Kyrgyz culture that its soundtrack is played in restaurants and sung at concerts. With the police taking bribes using the euphemism “souvenir” and eighties Hindi music accompanying our meals, we all felt right at home. China, you will not be missed. For a while, at least
Our mission to spread awareness about organ donation is more challenging than it sounds when language comes in the way. Few people we have crossed paths with along the way spoke English and for the most part, our trip has been one really long game of charades. Our acting skills however are limited to the basics and are not nearly advanced enough to be able to communicate the nuances of organ donation. The truth remains, that the Language barrier exists only till we try to find ways to break it down. It’s an effort that two people must make in order to communicate. I’ve had plenty of conversations using just gestures, facial expressions and voice intonation to be convinced that if animals can communicate without a language- so can we.
In my opinion, Kyrgyzstan is easily one of the most under rated tourist destinations and definitely deserves to be on any passionate traveller’s bucket list. Besides being extremely affordable, the country has been blessed with remarkable natural beauty and a very rustic charm. The simplicity is simply alluring, whether it’s the people, the towns or even the cuisine.