Osh Market, an Edible Depilatory, and Suburban Scenes

Bishkek Travel Blog

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Much of Osh market is situated below the level of the surrounding streets; this is overlooking the roofs of the stalls
This, like the previous day, was a quiet domestic day in preparation for the morrow, upon which we were to embark on our road trip around Issyk Kul. So in addition to the pictures that relate to the journal entry, there are also some pictures of everyday scenes in Bishkek that need no more commentary than is given in the captions.

In summer the time to get things done in Bishkek is in the morning, because after lunch it gets extremely hot, and - other things being equal - staying indoors in the cool with a DVD is often the most sensible option. A typical morning expedition would be to Osh market, one of the largest in Bishkek. It is very easy to get there by marshrutka from all parts of the city; alternatively there is free car parking in nearby streets for those in quest of bulky items.
It is comparatively quiet on this approach to Osh market; the real activity takes place under cover
Osh is a vast and seething under-cover emporium, with thousands of traders selling just about everything that you can think of. It is the place to go to stock up on vegetables and household items, as of course the prices compare well with those in the shops, and there is also an extensive and colourful display of cloth and textiles. As always in a market such as this, it is important to check quality - not just of the foodstuffs but also of packaged and luxury items. In buying a bottle of vodka, for example, the unwary purchaser is quite likely to come away with a counterfeit product, and Irina ran a finger over the labels to ensure that they felt right; the genuine labels, like banknotes, have a surface texture that is very difficult to forge.

Unfortunately I only managed to get one picture in the market itself, and that is blurred.
A completely duff picture showing the colourful chaos that reigns in Osh market
The place is such a hive of bustling activity that it's almost impossible to stand still long enough to line up a shot and press the button, for you are being bumped and jostled from all sides - indeed, Irina had warned me to take particular care of my wallet, for in this kind of environment pickpockets thrive. Nevertheless, although it goes against the grain, I'm posting this duff picture because I think that even so it conveys an impression of the colourful chaos that reigns there. Incidentally, for those who know something of Kyrgyzstan and may be feeling confused, this market is of course in Bishkek and just happens to be called Osh market; it is nowhere near Osh itself, which is Kyrgyzstan's second city and about 200 miles away.

At one point I remarked on a tray of pieces cement that appeared to be sold by weight, and I wondered whether people were supposed to use them as paperweights; but Irina hastened to assure me that it was sunflower seed halwa, and that you were supposed to eat it! I thought at first that she was teasing me, whereupon she bought some to prove that it really was edible.
Irina proves that you really do eat this stuff that is now proven to be, not cement, but sunflower seed halwa
I needed some convincing and once we got home it wasn't until she had consumed a couple of pieces with evident relish that I ventured to try some. Actually it was quite palatable: soft, sweet, glutinous, with a fairly neutral taste, and nothing at all like cement. However, eating it in quantity is apparently an excellent way of inducing a coronary, as it will clog up your arteries in double quick time, so I contented myself with a pretty modest intake.

There are many different kinds of halwa. However, it also has a traditional use that is nothing to do with eating, and that is for removing excess body hair. Wisely, Irina did not tell me this at the time, perhaps sensing that I might be keen to try it out. First you warm the halwa so that it goes nice and soft, and then spread it over the part of the body to be denuded.
Yum yum, seconds please!
As the halwa cools it becomes more sticky and adheres firmly to the hairs; then you yank it off, the hairs are torn from their follicles, and once your eyes have stopped watering you will be able to admire a lovely smooth hairless patch of skin. What's more, you can use the same halwa over and over again.

You read it here first.

X_Drive says:
Gosh, I hope she's not eating the halwa you used to remove your chest hair. :)))
Posted on: Oct 08, 2006
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Much of Osh market is situated bel…
Much of Osh market is situated be…
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Yum yum, seconds please!
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Bishkek General Tips & Advice review
It is not easy to find large-scale maps of Kyrgyzstan, or plans of Bishkek. The best place to go is the State Cartographical and Geodesical Serv… read entire review
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