“Now, when you go out of the house,” I say to my two new American students, “You move your object to the lower shelf.” I put the pewter fish on the lower desk shelf to show them. “You see? Here. I am the fish, so when I leave, I put it here.” The white girl is nodding, but the black one looks confused. Liz. Kiara. I must learn their names. “And when I come home, I put it again on the top shelf, like so.” I demonstrate. “Okay? You understand?”
That should have been the end of it. An unexciting stop on an otherwise interesting journey. Unfortunately, I had not kept an eye on Ruby. While the rest of us had been gnawing fried bread and swatting flies, she had been chatting away with our hosts in a manner that was far too loose and animated to be strictly decent from a Kyrgyz perspective. They seemed taken with her — the man, his mother, his sisters, and his aunts. So taken that when we all stood up to go, they said she should stay.