Fabien Selosse came from Lille city in the north of France. He had spent several months in Mongolia, and in September 2014 arrived in Kyrgyzstan as a logistician for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
I could not choose. There were two options — Kyrgyzstan and Kurdistan. I was lucky that your republic was chosen.Fabien Selosse
The mountains and the life of the nomads, which had inspired him in Mongolia, attracted him. Fabien was fascinated by history, Central Asian culture, and a girl appeared in his life.
«Mountains, history, nomadic culture, girl ... So, I decided not to return to France,» Fabien said.
Recently, he married a local girl. The newlyweds are getting ready for a big wedding celebration in the summer, and then the relatives of the groom and the bride will gather at a large table. All French relatives will come, including grandmother of Fabien, who has never traveled by a plane.
— What surprises you in Kyrgyzstan?
— Landscapes. I was familiar with the culture of Kyrgyz people. I was struck by nature, Issyk-Kul.
— What in Bishkek reminds you of your hometown?
— There are many enterprises, mines, and destroyed factories in the north of France. The ruins after the Soviet Union in Kyrgyzstan remind me of my native land. People in the north of France are different from those who live in the south. They are richer spiritually, more hospitable. There is always bad weather outside, it’s raining, but everyone has a sun inside. Kyrgyzstanis are also famous for their hospitality.
— What do you miss in Kyrgyzstan?
— Food means much to a Frenchman. I like the local cuisine, large serves. But I like seafood — oysters, snails. There are few of them. They are very expensive here and not fresh. But this is Kyrgyzstan. It’s like looking for kurut in Africa.
— What do you like in the national cuisine, and what are you afraid to even try?
— I like Osh plov. I had lived in the south for several months and liked it. I tried a lot, but it will be hard for me to eat sheep’s eyes. I like chuchuk and kazy very much. I even know a store nearby, where home-made delicacies are sold. I do not understand ashlamfu, okroshka. The very principle of cold soups is incomprehensible to me. I like fresh kurut, but not the one that is sold in the city.
— Do you like national drinks?
-I do not like maksym, shoro, but chalap and kumys are tasty. Many foreigners do not like kumys. The first thing they say when they try it: y-y-y and then make a wry face. I tried kumys for the first time in Mongolia and understood why the nomads drink it. We walked around the steppe all day long, and in the evening we were given kumys. It is the best after a walk in the heat.
— Where do you like to spend your spare time?
— I really like the railway station in Bishkek. There is a huge map of the USSR with all the routes and roads. You can build your journey from Bishkek to Moscow, Novosibirsk and beyond.
The most beautiful place in Kyrgyzstan is Kel-Suu lake. It is interesting, the road to it is fascinating.Fabien Selosse
I have a friend — shepherd there. He lives modestly, but his family is rich. They have many children. There is love in their little house. I often visit them.
— What has fascinated you and disappointed you in close acquaintance with the local population?
— I arrived in Bishkek on the morning of September 19, 2014. I took some rest and went to see the city, Ala-Too square. I went to a bar where I met a guy. The next day, he invited me to a corporate party in Kara-Balta. I did not know anything about Kyrgyzstan, but I was already in the car and was moving somewhere to the mountains. And ... we got drunk. I do not remember anything else. But it was good.
-Were not you afraid?
— I was not scared. I thought about security, but still went with him. I like life here, I’m not going to go back to France. Parents, of course, warned me, because «Kyrgyzstan» sounds like «Afghanistan.»
— Your Russian is very good. Why did you learn it?
-Oh, that’s a very interesting story! At the age of 15, I changed my college to lyceum. I had to go to study in one city, and my friends — in another. My friends went to the only lyceum where you can learn Russian. But I did not want to part with them, so I told my parents that I would study Russian.
It was an attempt to stay with friends. We are still friends, and the language was useful to me.
I did not speak English even for a day with my wife. We immediately began to speak Russian. And then I lived with my mother-in-law for a year and a half. Recently, my wife’s aunt from St. Petersburg came. I had to explain to her some Asian words.
The Frenchman explained to the Russian what shirdak, toshok, and kurut are. It was funny.Fabien Selosse
— What would you change in Kyrgyzstan?
— Tourism in the republic is developing actively, but its distinctiveness is lost. There is a yurt camp on Son Kul. No one even greets you there, tourists are taken as a living purse. There are problems with the service. People are willing to pay for services, but there must be respect. Once I saw a camp on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul lake. Yurt was set up in mud, there was not a rug inside. They wanted to receive tourists. I asked the owner: «Would you live like this?» He replied: «No.» Why does he think that foreigners will want to live like this? They, of course, like life in the yurt, but there are basic conditions for comfort.
Horses also suffer because of mass tourism: they are beaten, not cared for. People no longer respect their culture because of the money. This is very bad. This is degradation.