Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road

Camp Cook

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Lifeatpointc.com welcomes a guest post by Aram

Kyrgyz Veggie SaladOn a recent trip to Kyrgyszstan with a group of friends, we headed out of Bishkek to a small town called Malovodnoye, which means little water in Russian. At this town, we were to spend a couple days playing and hanging out with some kids in a day camp. One of the reasons why the camp existed was to provide nutritional food for the children. Like the name suggests, this town had little water, and the economy was weak so many of the children came to the camp solely to be fed well. On our way to the town, we stopped to pick up bread, vegetables and other various foods for the camp that day. When we arrived, I was asked if, since I was able to speak some Russian, I would be interested in helping the lunch lady cook the food all day. Since I try not to let “no” be in my vocabulary in foreign countries where unique experiences abound, I quickly said “yes”.

One time I tried to make cookies for my friend and I put in half a cup of baking soda instead of baking powder. Needless to say, I am not very helpful in the kitchen. So when I found myself preparing food under a lady who spoke only Russian and was, quite frankly, not too eager to engage in my broken Russian, it was a very humbling experience indeed. Cooking in the metric system? Tough. Cooking in the metric system in Russian? Impossible. In a soviet era school, with no air conditioning and cooking equipment from the 70s, I sweated and toiled cutting tomatoes and cucumbers for vegetable salad for seventy kids. I then filled a giant pot with buckets and buckets of water to make macaroni all the while attempting and failing to make small talk with my lunch lady boss. She meanwhile, just stared at me as she cut slice after slice of crusty bread, her bicep showing to be about 4 times bigger than my own.

At the end of the day, when the pots had been cleaned, the floors mopped and the tables wiped, I turned to the lunch lady, nodded my head and walked out of the cafeteria, completely exhausted and humbled.  At least now I can add to my resume when I graduate college:

Assistant to the Lunch Lady; Malovodnoye, Krgyzstan; Term of employment: One day.

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