Kirgistan: A star at old age

Somewhere in the middle of nowhere – in the village of the kyrgyz giant Kozhomkul – while searching for our accomodation, we encounter an old woman who is looking for a ride. We have space in our Jeep, she has the same destination,  so we are happy to take her with us.

Kerimbekova Mirzagul: A star at over 70 years old

From the start of our ride she loves to talk, she chats with an ease, laughs heartily and is amzingly self confident. Suddenly, she looks for something in her handbag. She conjures a meticulously folded newspaper. Carefully she unfolds it and shows us a full page article that is all about her: Kerimbekova Mirzagul. She is a local celebrity and meanwhile she even gained international recognition by taking part in singing competitions all over the world. But what she holds most dearly is poetry. She writes poetry about the national hero Kozhomkul, the beauty of Kyrgyzstan und her thoughts about the development and future of her central asian nation.  Mirzagul is a proud, affectionate and very funny woman who is already 71 years old. She is living alternately with one son in Bishkek and with another one of her sons in the small village of Kyzyl-Oi, where we are travelling right now. It doesn’t seem to bother her, she loves the city and the village just as much.

In our car she starts to sing with her strong voice, gesticulating full of verve. She sings songs from her childhood she sang while herding animals and then continues to belt her poems. I am so impressed. Unfortunately we arrive in Kyzyl-Oi – but the nice poet is willing to meet us again next morning and agrees to letting her film singing her songs. She is looking forward to it, she kisses my cheeks when we say good bye and greets her granddaughter who comes running to meet her.

The next morning she invites us to drink tea and tells us about her life. She has ten children, after the seventh one she even got a merit badge from the former USSR for her special service in the continuance of the soviet population. With pride she shows me a picture and gifts it to me later. Her whole life was dedicated to her children. There is no remorse or regret in her voice,  she beams with pride and joy and looks back happily on those past days. Only at 67 years old the decided to do what she always wanted to do and she has the most passion for: writing poetry, singing and also doing impressions. She is loves doing impressions of young rappers in Bishkek, who she skillfully and with the use of all her body. Proudly, she shows us certificates and pictures of her taking part in singing competitions on national and international level. Meanwhile she is pouring black tea for her grandson and puts the nice amount of three heaped tablespoons of sugar in it. Because of course she still is the loving grandma for her many many grandchildren.

Kerimbekova Mirzagul wearing her soviet merit badge many years ago.

After drinking our obligatory black tea we start out to find a place where we can film her singing a few songs for us. She wants to know what we will do with the footage. We tell her that we can publish it on our website if that is something she would like us to do. Yes, that would please her – but we need to send her the link! So she gives uns the phone number of her son living in Bishkek and starts to sing: just like a born diva, her voice reverberates over the barren landscape and through the village. She is not bothered by neighbors coming through on their horses and just tells them to please not disturb the film shoot. An international film crew would be here to film her! She laughs heartily and goes on singing. I am so impressed by the pride and joy of that woman. Finally we say our good-byes and she wishes us long lives, health and good luck, she kisses and hugs us and then goes back to tending to her home and caring for her grandchildren. And we drive on to our next adventure.

and here is the result:

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