One day walking through the central streets of Bishkek near our apartment, Scott and I wanted to grab a Sprite before getting home. We found a stand which sold some food and most importantly cold drinks. I had just walked up to the counter when this older woman walked by and very passionately started yelling at me to not buy from there. “Девушка! Не покупайте здесь! Не покупайте! “Girl! Don’t Buy Here! Don’t Buy!” Wow. I thought. Wow. I tried to tell her I only wanted a Sprite, a bottled Sprite at that. What could be the harm in that? The woman didn’t pay attention to my excuse and quickly went on her way. The younger girl working at the stand looked at a coworker and then at me and shook her head with a slight smile. I can say that I’ve never had another experience like that, back in the USA or overseas. I don’t think most Americans would steer strangers from buying food from street cafes as they walked by. But maybe that’s because we have Health Departments to warn us from buying food from places. Maybe this woman was like the local version of a roaming Health Department representative. Yeah, that’s it.
Whatever the motivation behind the warnings, I will say that I did go ahead and buy the Sprite that day, but I always had some reservations about buying food from the place so I never did. I guess her warnings were somewhat effective after all.