Archive for March 3, 2010

Photos of Manhole Cover and Carpets

What can I write today? I’ve been at the office all day and it turned out to be a fun with a birthday party at the end of it for a 22 year old secretary named Irina.  During the day I gave an English proficiency test among my 30 plus Kazakh work colleagues to four groups.  I also promoted the next movie we will watch with English subtitles on Friday as a whole group, Steve Martin’s “Pink Panther.”  We had about 13 people watch “Julie and Julia” last Friday night but this time it will be during the standard work break for lunch from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  I gave each person a handout with some of the vocabulary words from the movie to look up in Russian so when they hear it in English and see the English words in the subtitles, it will be like an “immersion” experience for almost two hours. Some of these people do not know ANY English, they will be in my “basic elementary” grouping for twice weekly instruction.

Some Kazakh people from work (many different departments such as finance, accounting, H.R. logistics, construction, etc.) claimed they didn’t want to hang around for the movie until after work lets out at 7:00, getting them home by 9:00 or so.  Okay, so we adjust, Friday lunch break may be our movie time.

I also discovered among my work colleagues, there are some extremely competitive people concerning their English proficiency skills.  Wow, what passion to get the grammar just right, to know the difference between an adjective and noun such as scarce and scarcity.  Or one word that had MANY of the people flummoxed was the word “conducive.”  Also, we went round about the synonyms “takes place” and “occur” as in an event or meeting.  There seems to be a difference according to the British but as Americans we wouldn’t know the nuances of that and other words in the IELTS quick placement test.

Since I don’t have much energy to write beyond just that, here are some photos from here in Astana or from Almaty.  Manhole covers gives us all pause in Kazakhstan and a weird preoccupation that we wouldn’t give a second thought to in the U.S.  I’ve had two American friends fall in to manholes and hurt themselves badly because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking.  Most people from the former Soviet Union, however, know NEVER to step on manhole covers. These covers are remarkable here in Kazakhstan because you often see men working near them with long wires or some covers are missing entirely, but not necessarily true in this new city of Astana, Kazakhstan.

I also wanted to show Kazakh carpets, one I bought back in 1993 in Almaty, the other is my friend Julia’s carpet that she recently bought in Almaty at a very good deal. I would like to buy a carpet here in Astana once I get paid. Again, Americans are different about their carpets.  We walk on them with our street shoes on without a second thought, whereas here in Central Asia you show respect by NOT walking on these pieces of art.  You must wear indoor slippers and NOT your shoes that you used outside.  Manhole cover and carpets, I guess I had something to write about afterall.

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