Archive for November 6, 2007

Almaty’s airport story and other building woes

Almaty billboardsToday I had my Persian student (let’s call her A.Z. to protect her identity) over for our usual tutorial as she is preparing for her interview to go to Vancouver, Canada eventually.  A.Z. has lived in Kazakhstan for ten years and she is eager to see her two children, son and daughter in Wash. D.C. Her husband died two years ago leaving her with his business to attend to.  A.Z. shared with me about her flight to Tehran this summer to see her relatives even though it was dangerous for her to do so.  She had to wear the burqa and be very careful what she said, otherwise she might jeopardize herself and land in jail.  Her parents were put in jail about 30 years ago due to their beliefs.  They lost everything they owned, not unlike the Ukrainians who were labelled as “kulaks” in the 1930s by the communist party.

As A.Z. was telling me about her summer trip to Iran, she told me about Almaty’s airport burning down about seven years ago.  Since my focus has been so much on Ukraine, I had not heard about this.  If I had, I had forgotten about it.  A.Z. claimed that the government had not paid enough money to the building contractors for the completion of the new airport so it was burned down. (arson I suppose?)  I remember when arriving to Almaty back in 1993, a truck would bring all our luggage and dump it in a pile.  Subsequently people would climb over each other and the luggage to claim their own.  No such thing as a conveyor or carousel to bring the luggage around in an orderly fashion.  That is how I learned from A.Z. about what happened to the new airport from seven years ago.  She and her son had to stand out on the street waiting for their flight to leave, the incoming passengers were able to be in a neighboring house that was taken over for the purposes of those coming into Almaty.  Now of course, they have another new airport that has all the modern conveniences.

I have to check this out to get more details about this incident.  As I look out my northwest window in my office at our flat, I see the building of a HUGE glass building.  I’m wondering how much these workers are paid to be on the scaffolding that is about 35-40 floors up.  Cranes are everywhere, just like in Kyiv, where investors are putting their money in the housing market and hoping for great financial returns.  The traffic will only continue to get worse if the metro is not completed soon.  Many growing pains are suffered as this young nation of Kazakhstan competes to be in the globalized world market.

I have no idea what the billboard says in the above photo, but they are everywhere as is the corrugated metal surrounding all the construction projects. 

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