The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

Dispatch from Xinjiang: Karakul Day 2

He was singing to me in Kyrgyz. It was just the two of us walking around a lake near Karakul. When the local Kyrgyz man stopped singing, I gave him a big smile and and a thumbs up. Then, he asked me to sing “America” to him.

I’m not really sure why I chose the song I chose, but there I was surrounded by mountains near the Pakistan-China border belting out “Wonderwall” by Oasis. Despite it’s unAmerican origins and my terrible pitch, I sang the entire song, and he clapped enthusiastically at the end.

As we hiked, he taught me Kyrgyz, and he even called me his “lakshma doosh,” or good friend. After we’d circled the lake, he invited me into his home. Inside, every surface of his two-room house was covered with red carpets and tapestries, some beautifully hand-woven and others machine-made with kitschy, red roses. The house smelled of camel poop, sheep, and chai—a surprisingly pleasant aroma.

His family, however, was considerably more excited by my camera than by me. I didn’t have my flash with me so none of the photos turned out, but they didn’t care. I’d snap a photo or let one his kids take one and immediately the whole family would crowd around the camera looking at the screen giggling and pointing.

We moved to the other room in his house and sat cross-legged on the carpet, while his wife and teen-aged daughter made yak milk tea for me and four his friends. In the background, a television played black and white Kyrgyz rock videos. Abruptly, the five men left, leaving me with his three kids and wife.

I thanked his family in Kyrgyz and reached into my backpack. I happened to have three stickers from my kickball league team back in Portland, Dolph and the Accusers, which I gave to each of his kids. There’s a family in Xinjiang right now who thinks Dolph and the Accusers is a hip American band instead of a motley team of French teachers, photographers, and editors. Though with the singing talent I demonstrated, it’s probably best that it remains just a kickball team.

Category: Blog Entries

Tagged: ,

Leave a Reply