Archive for April 3, 2008

Olympic Torch: Witnessed Twice (Part II)

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Yesterday the Olympic flame started at Abai and Dostyk, went up hill to El Farabi, then down Furmanova to go west on Sapteyava (sp) to follow Mir (Peace) down to the old square, then back up Furmanova to turn east on Abai to end where it started.  At least that is the way I understood the route to be.   I saw the beginning of the parade out of a second story window from the Dostyk side at 3:00 and then again at 4:15, I saw it end from my husband’s second floor office on the Abai side.

Fortunately,  I was able to use a new Kazakh friend’s digital camera (since my camera was out of battery charge) while she videotaped the beginning of the parade.  I hope to get the photos I took of the many Kazakhs costumed in brightly colored national dress downloaded from her camera to blog about tomorrow.  The parade even featured Ukrainians in their national costumes.  There must have been at least 50-75 of them in their bright colors ready to walk the long parade route.  What a welcome sight compared to the 1,000s of “guards” decked out in red all along the parade route, staggered about 20 feet apart.  I’m not sure what function they served except to keep people off the street once the parade started but they were in place about 12:30 and didn’t leave their post until about 6:00 p.m. 

A long time in the sun, my husband and I had stood for about an hour talking to other faculty members on the Abai side until we found out that the parade would start at 3:00 p.m. which it did. I happened to be at the right place at the right time TWICE.  By the end, the bright costumes had probably stayed at the old square to dance and the camels and horses were added.  I’d have to say that such a funny little flame can disrupt a whole day of classes but we did have President Nazarbayev come to our campus to inspect the new building that was dedicated last week.  Didn’t see Nazarbayev, of course, but only his two guards stationed in front of his palace when I walked to work.  Security had been tight all throughout our campus.

Yes, a funny little flame seemed to have monumental impact on showing how great the Olympics is which will be celebrated in a country that has one billion people just to the east of Kazakhstan.  The next several months should be very interesting to watch as the pageantry continues and as China wants to impress the rest of the world.

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