Kyrgyzstan: A blend of Russia and native Kyrgyz culture, now evolving into its own unique identity

Today, we introduce you to Nargiza Ryskulova. Nargiza is one of our regional Pocket Cultures contributors, who is from Kyrgyzstan but currently lives in London. Kyrgyzstan is a country that many of us don’t know a lot about:even down to the country’s location on a map, or what language the locals speak! Read more from Nargiza about what makes Kyrgyzstan so unique, multi-cultural, and what most surprises visitors.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

I have been living in London since August. Originally from Kyrgyzstan. Technical reason to move to London is to do my MA in International Journalism at it is one of the best journalism schools in the world. But really it’s for London, because London is just one of the cities that are on my “must live” list. It’s an amazing city to be young in, inspiring, overwhelming and challenging. So in combination circumstances match the desire and make London a perfect place for me to be at this moment.

Would you describe yourself as multi-cultural?

I have grown up in a culture which is itself a mixture of cultures. Kyrgyzstan was in Soviet Union for 70 years, inheriting strong post-soviet culture, blended on the basis of native Kyrgyz culture and Russian culture, strongly implemented through media and literature. Now as a developing country Kyrgyzstan is evolving its own new culture.

Why did you decide to become a Pocket Cultures contributor?

Because I love cultures, and I love the fact that I can share mine, or the one I am exposed with so many other people who are also able to appreciate specialties and fascination of different cultures.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

My morning starts with cup of coffee and morning dose of fresh world news. 40 minutes of good reading on the tube and walk to University. After school comes the most exciting, exploration of new: places, people, activities. Thanks to the fact that London has so much to offer it’s never the same!

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

The best part of living in my country (Kyrgyzstan) is to be able see mountains from any point. It just gives you a different perspective on things around you, reminding you that you are just a human. People are incredible, their hospitality and sincerity makes up for imperfectness of infrastructure. The worst part is the political system, which is striving to develop into something functional. But I guess, that’s why we called a “developing” country.

What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?

Blogs:

Books:

  • Life At the Edge of the Empire: Oral Histories of Soviet Kyrgyzstan by Sam Tranum
  • Any literary piece by Chingiz Aitmatov (will provide the deepest insight into culture)
  • Kyrgyzstan: Central Asia’s Island of Democracy? (Postcommunist States and Nations, 4)by John Anderson

Films:

  • Wedding Chest  by Nurbek Egen
  • Sanzhyra by Nurbek Egen
  • Birth of Manas as a Premonition by Nurbek Egen
  • Beshkempir (1998)
  • Jamila (1994)
  • Bishkek, I love you

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

That we look Asian, located next to China, but speak Russian language.

That the horse milk is a national drink “komuz”!

About the author

Carrie McKeegan
Carrie is an American who just moved from Bali to Mendoza, Argentina. Carrie caught the wanderlust bug early on from her parents, who raised her in Mexico City. Carrie and her husband David have lived in New York, London, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Bali before moving to Mendoza. They are actively working to pass on the travel bug to their young son Timmy, who has already been to twelve countries.
Other 35 posts by

2 Comments

  • Hi Nargiza,

    I’m just back from 6 months in Bishkek, and I’m back out there in at the end of August to begin teaching at the American University. Be great to meet up in London if you’re around…I’m getting withdrawl symtoms from the KR!!

    Iain

  • Hi Iain,

    I actually went to American University and glad to hear you will be teaching there. Definetely, let’s meet up. Just add me on Facebook (Nargiza Ryskulova) and drop me a message. We will figure something out . Just to cheer you up, it’s the right time to be in London, so much fun is going on ;)