We purposely wanted to be in Osh on 8.31 for the Kyrgyz Independence Day celebration. This was when all the cities in Kyrgyzstan were supposed to have huge celebrations including games of Kok Boru, the Kyrgyz national sport where riders on horseback fight over a headless goat and attempt to throw it in a bin, thereby scoring a goal. We confirmed that this game and others would be played and set out for the hippodrome, 15 km away in a village South of Osh. We drove out of town in a minibus. I asked a fellow passenger if the hippodrome was visible from the road. She replied it was (so we'd be able to see when to get off.) Soon I saw it: a walled filed with bleachers-- entirely empty except for a few horses grazing in the center.
We asked the driver and he said the games were held at the stadium in town. So we took the minibus back. Going towards Osh it quickly filled up and though we both had seats, I had a kid leaning over me bracing himself against the window for the trip and Rowshan seemed to be near either someone who was carrying kurut balls or just smelled strongly of them. The minibus was so packed they could barely close the door. I think if the windows had been openable, they would have crammed people in until they were popping out of the windows grasping the roof. I still haven't learned what you say to get a minibus to stop. "Bus stop" doesn't work and neither does, "Next stop, please". Rowshan got the driver to stop with "Let me out!" in Azeri. By the time we got out, we were a block beyond the stadium. We walked up to the stadium and saw it was completely empty. Definitely no games of any sort were being played. Across from the stadium was some sort of government building which was cranking music for the celebration. Rowshan realized it was in Farsi and the lyrics were something like: Here is to the people of Iran! We will always be the children of Iran.
We followed where the crowd was coming from and came to a big square where the Kyrgyz Independence Day festivities were happening, presided over by a huge statue of Lenin.
Does anyone else think this is really ironic? The language of the festivities was Russian and it looked like there had been a lot of red flag waving by school children. By the time we got there a lot of the people seemed to have left but there was still a crowd and entertainment in the form of various singers performing pop songs to canned music.
We saw a few traditional costumes but all in all the festivities seemed pretty lame. We hypothesized that 1. Kyrgyz people weren't that thrilled about independence or 2. Osh has so many Uzbeks that the majority don't care about Kyrgyz independence.