Posts tagged Furmanova

So What? Sewing in Kazakhstan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy Mom is pretty amazing with her sewing capabilities.  She asked for the measurements of our little two year old grandson on Facebook and got the response from the mother almost instantaneously. She finished her “assignment” in a matter of hours.  By the time we left for Arizona to visit all three grandsons, she had it ready to put in our suitcase.  Wow, that is efficient!

What about sewing in Kazakhstan? Do many people have this skill? I found this sign (see below) along Furmanova, just down from el Farabi street in Almaty several years ago.  I thought it was a clever sign incorporating the mountains that are in the backdrop with the look of stitches for sewing.  Uniquely Kazakh with the Cyrillic letters describing more about it in Russian.  I wonder if the shopkeeper has ever been bothered by the mafia elements. I remember when I first lived in Almaty back in 1993 (almost 20 years ago) that there had been a highly reputable cabinet and furniture maker.  Reportedly he was so good that he caught the attention of the bad characters who took over soon after the downfall of communism in 1991.

From what I understand he was “ordered” to make the specified furniture for these bad guys in a very short amount of time.  When they came back for it at their designated day, the craftsman had not completed the job.  They said, “I don’t think you understand, we need that furniture NOW!  Get it done or it will not go well with members in your family.”  I don’t remember whether the task was accomplished or if he went against his own creed of good craftsmanship to get the furniture done quickly. It seems he was left with no choice but to comply to their wishes and forced to do shoddy work in order to save the lives of his family members.  That would be a kind of slavery and for doing good work, this furniture maker had been penalized.

Sad that this kind of thing goes on in Kazakhstan. I know that many Germans and Russians left soon after the fall, they knew that they were no longer “welcome” in a land that was originally the Kazakhs.  I wonder how Almaty shop keepers who are trying to do a good business are doing in this kind of business climate.  I suppose those who have never learned a craft of which they can be proud of would just say “So what.” Clueless thugs.


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Trickle Down Thoughts

cascading-water-on-stairsNo, not “trickle down,” but I have cascading thoughts just like this photo of the waterlogged stairs along Furmanova St. When it rains in Almaty, you not only get the water from top down but also gushing under your feet following the laws of gravity to find the lowest spot to settle in a puddle. I caught this picture the other day with one of our spring rains. People all seem to have an umbrella at the ready because it could start out sunny in the morning and cloud over to rain in the afternoon or vice versa. In any case, I have learned to keep an umbrella at work and several at home.

I’m thinking about people’s orientation when it comes to giving to the needy. I live in a neighborhood that is not far from the President’s residence when he comes to visit Almaty. Currently his presidential palace is in the new capital of Astana but the buildings we live in, two blocks away from the former palace, were built to be substantial, perhaps earthquake proof. At least the little quakelette we had several Sunday mornings ago barely registered a tremor in my kitchen but I did note something was going on. Which reminds me that I had a dream that I was in a lovely home that sprawled in all directions. In this dream a quake happened, a minor one, so I got up to investigate the damage. As in all dreams, I was not sure where I was located but out in the living room area there were green plants and I saw a green lizard skitter among them. Then I saw a snake and another larger reptile sitting on the table. How odd, I thought to myself, I didn’t think my host or whomever lived in this place had pets like this.

Then I got to thinking once I woke up from my dream that when there are disturbances among those in the higher echelons of power, I mean at my university and not anywhere else in Kazakhstan, then the true critters come out for safety. These reptiles didn’t want to be crushed in the walls where they hang out but were feeling secure out in the open and showing themselves. Normally they would hide for fear of humans. Where’s the analogy here?

I’ll get back to the notion of giving to the poor but there is more than just physical poverty which many churches attend to with money given to orphans and widows. (That is a mandate right out of James.) However, there seems to be a spiritual, emotional, psychological poverty that is present at our institution of higher learning. As soon as there is a shake up in the power structure, the real reptiles come out and reveal their true natures. Not pretty. A tug-of-war is going on over who knows what compared to who knows who. What is it about giving money to educators who know too little but are part of a former communist system that was a failed system? Why not find those teachers best qualified to teach the future of this nation of Kazakhstan?

What is wrong with the merit system when it comes to awarding jobs to those people who really CARE about the students, care enough to step aside and let others more qualified and less divisive to teach? In the world of music, you have the best vocalists or musicians who are trained to sing or play take the hefty parts. In theater, the best actors who can memorize the lines, act their parts out convincingly. What is with that line, “those who can’t do, teach.” That’s a put down to those who are called into the teaching profession. How about “those who can’t teach, administrate?” I don’t think that line will stick because of the obvious slap down from those people who do the hiring. Ah me…

Those are my “trickle down thoughts” this morning. I have other stray thoughts about why people don’t give money to educators but would rather give to orphanages or hospitals. I’ll save it for another post.

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Views Along Furmanova Street

billboard-on-languagesWatched the classic movie “Barabbas” last night starring Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance and Ernest Borgnine.  Par Lagerkvist, the author of this book titled “Barabbas” got a Nobel Prize in 1951 for writing this best seller.  How times have changed from 60 years ago.  “Barabbas” rivals the action of the movie “Ben Hur.”  They sure don’t make good movies like they used to, this was filmed in sepia tones and not black and white.  Russell Crowe must have watched this classic before he took on the role of “Gladiator” because Anthony Quinn had quite a showdown in an arena with the Roman emperor and crowds watching his performance.  “Barabbas” is no chick-flick.  Note the photos of what I commonly see along Furmanova Street as I walk downhill to work.  LOVE the billboard, I need a translation of it.


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