2004.11.01 Urumqi, China

Nisagul and Paula

Paula has flown back to Berlin. I'll miss having her around--she was in many ways the perfect roommate. However, her room was empty for only a couple days before I found a new person to fill it: Nisagul.

This is a good situation. Our language abilities in each other's mother tongue are roughly par, though--as with any Uighur with a university-level education--she's of course fluent in Chinese as well. I made one of the conditions of her moving in that we speak in English no more than half the time. The balance has been almost all Uighur, but if we should for some reason mix it up with a little Chinese as well, so be it. My Japanese--never very proficient and considerably rusty--is still better than hers, so this could make for a fun time. It's sort of like having a live-in tutor for both of us.

I have developed a terrible crush on her best friend, Rahila. While not an ulterior motive when Nisagul moved in, I'm quite happy to have the added bonus of seeing her friend around far more often than before.

Rahila, Nisagul, and David
It's the middle of Ramadan so most of my friends are fasting during daylight hours. Xinjiang is an overwhelmingly Muslim region, but I've decided not to participate this time. Though not Muslim myself, I have previously observed the month-long fast times and places it made sense to do so. I remember thinking how difficult it would be to make it through one day, let alone an entire month before the first time I actually tried it. In some ways I found it wasn't as hard as I expected. There are moments when every thought does revolve around food and drink--or more specifically, absence thereof--but those are the exception. I suppose I might have a different perspective if I were the one fasting this time: Nisagul was desperate to eat something in the last hours before sunset.