Archive for September, 2007

EVERYONE is happy with new apartment!!!

The new apartment and the short term finances are working out especially with payday tomorrow.
I believe my Kazakh and Bangladeshi colleagues feel better toward me, as they realize the very complicatedness of the introductory team.  I also gave some Celebrex I bought as a tria, to the Bangladeshi prof who has same spinal arthritis I have.  He is one of the other three teachers and was elected coordinator when I was bumped. I wish him well, and for everyone good relationships.
Unfortunately, the students didn’t do well on the quizzes and I think I know why and will analyze it today.It is cooler.  I “loped” downhill to work, hitting all the stop lights on green. 

*******************  My 9 a.m. class did not go well, the repeated at 2 p.m. went very well.I took a different approach and hope to recover something in ten minutes with the 9 a.m today.  Also, these students are mostly first year and on the whole probably do not have as good English.  This is the class that is an experiment, and has tutorials without coordination. I think the other instructors are realizing what I realized earlier. I finished two versions of the exam for 10 am, have time to make it up 3 pm class.  I have enough time to check my mail from you.I guess it is getting to be winter there.

********************Just a few minutes before I meet a car that takes me to the new apartment with my stuff.  I just got back and have to return! I will plan to stay, take my stuff to write an exam and return here early. Would you write me an air mail letter to our new address? We’ll see how long it takes.Land lady is doing all kinds of stuff, new plates, etc. etc. She seemed very happy to close the deal. I was happy. Realtor was happy, M., head of housing office happy with my letter of commendation to the Provost.

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Friendly Cleaning Lady

I may be making a lot of friends among the staff here at our university.  Today I talked with the cleaning lady in the hostel.  She said she had lost her husband very early and had to raise a daughter, now 20 and working in the school’s library, and an older son, by herself. 

I mentioned meeting you here in Almaty in 1993 and she said she had worked here then, even before when it was the Communist Party School for twenty years. She remembered a LUX apartment with a PC couple and a suite with a single mom and child (5). I told her I would introduce you when you come.

We also talked about the quality of the stolovaya back then and she laughed. Yes, that was true. The forks had one tine. It was awful.  But out of  that “awful” comes good, in this case boy with expense account gets the girl!


[I remember this cleaning lady, she gave me some rich, sticky blueberry (?) jam from her dacha.  I recall she was very bubbly and smiley, I look forward to meeting her and seeing all the changes on campus since I was there 14 years ago.]

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On a Clear Day, Almaty Skyline

Almaty skyline

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Happy Arrangements with Landlady

I walked there. There are very few bus stops on a relatively narrow, very steep Furmanova street but there is one stop for going both ways at “our place.”

The landlady agreed to get two table lamps and one floor lamp, and a blanket. Apparently the last tenants took these things.  I said I have a pillow. They left one pillow.   There is no electric heater, and the windows are not modernized.  It could be cold, but she insists it is not. Kazakhstan doesn’t have a gas shortage, so my guess it will be warmer sooner and longer than Kiev. The TV is not universal, but our projector is. 

The sofa in the living room is comfortable, I asked for a floor lamp beside it. I asked for a table lamp for your office.  There is one bedside lamp and I asked for a second one for the master bedroom. She will provide a blanket.  The kitchen ware was adequate. I tested the microwave and the small refrigerator.The lease will run from Oct. 1 to June 15, 2008 but we can pay for the days in June that we use.  I will give them $200 to get the key from Tuesday, Sept. 25 and I can move in then.  I will pay them the first of every month. We will pay the “communalnye uslugy”  on the 25th of the month.

I am feeling tired after all this, but happy in general.  On Monday I’ll talk about income elasticity of demand for giving, and present them with information for the first of two little papers they will write. I’m sure one or two of the 50 students will research a good paper about philanthropy in Kazakhstan.  I have been excited today, to be looking at information on world wheat situation. It is nice to know about ERS’s publications.  I will send you a chart.

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View to north from our new FLAT!

view to north

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What is underneath the KSOC poster?

posterStrange that one should have to put up a poster of quality performers from Kyiv, Ukraine over an advert for a wet t-shirt contest but that is what my Kazakh Nomad husband did.  Kudos to him.  The concert will be on Thurs. Oct. 4th, (Handel’s oratorio) and Friday, Oct. 5th (Spirituals and Jazz) free of charge at the Kazakh National Conservatory at 6:30 p.m. both nights.  That is on the corner of Bogan Bi Batyr and Ablai Khan.  Wish I were there to see these concerts because the Ukrainian performers are TOP NOTCH!!! They have toured on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. alternating years, do NOT miss this opportunity to listen to Roger McMurrin’s top flight KSOC music!!! [KSOC = Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Choir]

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Post-Soviet Courtyard and children’s playground

Children’s playground

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Downtown = South; Uptown = North

It is cooler and a good day to take a break about town which I did.  Almaty has mountains to the east and the south, so it is a city on a slope.  “Down town means “South”.  Uptown is north, towards the mountains.  There’s a big difference from up to down, in altitude and in pollutants. 

When I lived here in 1992-1995, I sublet an apartment  where I lived on Derzhinsky Street, named for the first head of the Soviet KGB.  Now, all those Soviet names have been replaced by Kazakh national heroes.  Though, the locals still refer to the old names.   In some period of time soon I will move, probably “uptown” 20-30 minutes walk from our university depending upon whether I’m coming to work – a brisk down hill trot, or returning home, a slower trudge sometimes, I’m guessing. 

Right now, I am luxuriating in campus faculty housing, a stone’s throw from a very modern campus with a wonderful collection of books and periodicals.  Last night I browsed Foreign Affairs, the Journal of Transitional Economies, and some others. There are also Russian journals.  Next door, is the National Agrarian University, and hopefully persons I can meet and periodicals I can use as I intend to begin post – Soviet agricultural studies, abandoned 10 years ago when I began a career in higher education management and business course teaching. 

Our university is a premier institution of its type in Central Asia, one ridden with problems, but the only one like it.  It has 4,500 students and looks a lot like an American college, from the library, to the cafeteria trays, to the stationary store.  Most of the students are Kazakh, a Mongolian people (round faces, dark hair and eyes) who speak a Turkish language.  Turkish started in the east and went west to present day Turkey, with a swath of similarly related dialects. 

A Turk I knew here in 1993 said he understood “40%” of Kazakh, and more of the languages (Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Turkmen, Azeri) as he went west.  There are some, maybe 15% Caucasians here, Russians mainly, and a certain percent of Koreans, thrust here by Stalin in the mid 1950s. (Stalin enjoyed relocating people against their will.)   All are urbanized and all speak Russian. 

I use a bit of Russian in class, pretending to be learning it, I ask them what a word is in Russian.  The kids with better English know, tell me the Russian, I repeat it, and it helps the newer kids on this all – English speaking program. (Well, mostly all.) 

Yesterday, Friday, when I have only 2, not 4, classes, I rushed into the class to be told by a Kazakh woman historian that it was her time slot. I’d come an hour early to my room.  I learned from this historian, that there are classes here on “collectivization” the 1930s phenomenon of civil war against independent peasant farmers, which in Kazkahstan probably resulted in the death (mostly by starvation) of 1 million, perhaps one forth of the population.  Others fled the country, many to China or Mongolia. 

The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, writes about collectivization in his autobiography, a translated edition of which I checked out of the next door library last night.  I’d read excerpts of it in a newspaper in 1993.  Probably much of the book is “ghosted” but I’m sure the part about his grandfather and father and mother is true and heartfelt. Nazarbaev grew up as a boy speaking the languages of other children, of various ethnic groups.  His father had refused to take over management of a flour mill where he had worked, when it was expropriated from a hardworking Russian middle class family (who were deported) but took to the hills to herd sheep. Nazarbayev writes about all those who died when their property was collectivized.  I am still reading about his later life, running into independence in 1991 and a few years beyond.

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Inside: samovar tiles Outside: lawn, gravel and fields

gravel, lawn and fields20 samovar tilesI took this photo yesterday morning from our old home in NW MN.  We bought the samovar tiles in Ukraine several years ago but have not decided where to put them, maybe in our old granary.  We haven’t made a FINAL decision on the placement of these 20 tiles yet, but we shall see.

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Inside: samovar tiles Outside: mountains, buildings and cars

looking NEbath samovarKen took photos of what might be our new home together in Almaty.  He has not made the FINAL decision yet but liked what he saw, see post below.  Perhaps this will be our place for the next 8-9 months, we shall see.

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