«I have always been interested in
Anyway, back in August 2016, the choice I had was between long-term unemployment in France and a possibly wonderful experience in a region that fascinates me. I collected some money during the summer and I took a plane to Bishkek.Jeremy Lonjon
After a year of living in the capital of
— What surprises you in Bishkek?
To me, Bishkek is a city where nothing seems to work correctly. But, somehow, it is working. And that’s surprising to me. I was used to «Soviet» cities after living in
Perhaps, the biggest surprise is that I was just thinking of staying here for a few months at first. Now, I don’t even plan to come back to France.Jeremy Lonjon
— Is there anything in common between
— What do you miss in Bishkek?
Oh, and I also miss reading books in French language! It forces me to practice Russian and read Aitmatov in its original version for example. So it’s probably a good thing after all...Jeremy Lonjon
— What do you like about Bishkek?
The city centre is nice, of course. I like to walk around for a while before taking a bus or a marshrutka home. But I have to say that I really like the microrayons in the South. Even if I am moving every 6 months to another apartment, I really liked living there and spending time there.
One can say that I am a Southern «Bichkekchanin». I love the Victory Park next to Yuzhnaya Vorota: it’s wide and quiet, very green and peaceful. I always feel good when I am there, walking, sitting next to the canal and drinking shoro (which I learned to like even if I hated it in the beginning) or enjoying a good book.Jeremy Lonjon
— What dishes of national cuisine did you like?
Lagman and plov are my favorite dishes. Actually, there is nothing I don’t like in Kyrgyz national cuisine. Even if I am not a vegetarian, I think that there’s too much meat in all the dishes you can find. But the good thing about Bishkek is that you have an enormous choice concerning food. If you are fed up with national cuisine at some point, you can always find something else: Italian, Japanese, Georgian food... Anyway, to me, how food tastes is not the most important thing. The most important is to find the right people to share it with. And I had no problem doing that in
— What dishes would you not even dare to try?
I heard that it’s possible to eat sheep’s eyes in Kyrgyzstan. And I guess I would be too afraid to try something like that.Jeremy Lonjon
Since I already have trouble with brain meat or intestine... Not my thing.
— What fascinated and disappointed you with a close acquaintance with the local population?
When I came here for the first time, I started living with a local family. As a European from the middle-class, I was amazed by the kindness of these people. Life is not easy for them. They always lack of money, they have to face all kinds of problems with the administration, at work, etc. But, anyway, they are always ready to share everything, to make you feel comfortable, to make you feel like home. And I realized that this is a trait of character that could apply to any Kyrgyz.
Of course, there are exceptions like in every part of the world. But I am not afraid saying that the Kyrgyz people is one of the nicest and most hospitable, if not THE nicest people I know.Jeremy Lonjon
The biggest disappointment is the issue concerning garbage in Bishkek or in any Kyrgyz city or village for that matter. As an ecologist, I can’t stand to see these piles of garbage in the streets of the capital. And I hate it even more when I find all this trash in the mountains when I do some trekking or in the parks when I go for a walk.
I actually collect them on the way, even if I know that it is useless. Your country is magic, so beautiful. Its nature is amazing. That is why it saddens me to see that this great people living in the middle of all that do not respect it sometimes. That really has to change, if you ask me.Jeremy Lonjon