Archive for March 10, 2010

Checking out Taras, in southern Kazakhstan

I’m temporarily away from the bitterly cold winds, ice-packed sidewalks and wintry snow of Astana, the northern capital of KZ and in the southern territory of Taras where it is springlike yet today gloomy and overcast.  We flew into Chymkent yesterday and we were picked up at the airport by Aigerim’s (translator/assistant) friends.  They had red/yellow roses for us in keeping with Intl. Women’s Day and celebrating us as women a day later.  What women doesn’t like getting flowers? I reminded the guys that it was still March 8th in western U.S. so it was still wonderful to be treated in such a way. I also told them that no Americans really know about this holiday and that it is celebrated in China.  They knew that European women don’t celebrate this holiday either, so what is so international about this holiday?  Anyway, we swiftly went to Aigerim’s mother’s place, a palatial house with more room than she knows what to do with.  She had wonderful beshbarmak waiting for us (five fingers dish).  I will show photos later when I download them from my camera upon my return to Astana in a few days.

How wonderful to see the green grass and know that I was clearly overdressed with boots, long underwear, heavy coat with scarves, hat and gloves.  All that was quickly ditched and the strategy was how to stay cool with the clothes I did bring along.  When I am done with our presentation at the big university in Taras, I hope we can do a bit of sight seeing.  For now we are in a LUX place in a hotel somewhere in Taras, I have no idea where.  I did some work late at night and fell asleep on a hard bed with an overstuffed pillow.  Finally, to sleep better I took the pillow out and stuffed the casing with all my extra clothes.  There, I was able to sleep up to 9:00 a.m.  That is when I go to work in Astana.

Seems that work hours are uniform in Astana close to the government offices.  People show up at 9:00 to 9:30, have an hour and half lunch break (1:00 to 2:30) and then work until 7:00 or later.  You will see propki (traffic jams) around the main arteries close to the Baiterek monument around 9:00 but after that, it is normal again.  Nothing like Almaty where there seems to be propki (pronounced proop-key) all the time.  As far as checking out Taras, my update will have to be later.  I’ve simply crossed the street to this Internet cafe to find out what e-mail I’m missing, much traffic there.  Anyway, good to see another part of this great nation even though it will be for only a short stay.  I’ve always wanted to go to Taras and now I’m here.  It looks like any other post-Soviet town.  I had been in Chymkent back in 1993 when I was first here but again that was only a quick visit I made back then.

Something tells me that I’m going to have to live here in Kazakhstan a LONG time in order to see these different cities and find out their own unique characteristics.  We will find out what kind of students we will get from the Taras area as we will do a presentation about our new university today and tomorrow.  I look forward to meeting the secondary teachers, students and their parents.  Our presentation will be in Kazakh, Russian and English.  Lots of ground to cover…more later.

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