Posts tagged hospitality

Expats Impressions Living in Kazakhstan (Part III)

Please read the other day’s blog entry with an explanation of what survey I did and who were my respondents were about expat impressions while living in Kazakhstan.  I hope this is enlightening and encouraging for my Kazakh and Kazakhstani readers.

7. What is the most precious memory you have had when dining in a Kazakh friend’s home? If it hasn’t happened yet, just wait, it will.

1) About two or three times per year I am able to go to an employees home for dinner. I meet her father who is wheelchair bound and lives on the fifth floor. He cannot walk and can only go outside if someone carries him. This man is so positive in the light of so many difficulties. He inspires me in many ways.

2) Helping to slaughter a sheep

3) The food and the hospitality of the host

4) Just sitting and enjoying the fact that I can follow everything that is being said.

5) Have only gone to tea at a friend’s apartment but she went over the top to make us feel welcome.

6) food, and food, and more food and being offered all the “best pieces”……dining with them is an absolute pleasure!!!!

7) Being thanked for coming to KZ

8 ) Toasting, endless toasting

9) Eating self-made beshparmak (with horse meat!) with your hands. I even saw how it was prepared, in a very small kitchen with an electric stove on the ground. Delicious! Kazakhs make you really feel at home, not only because of all the food (the sweets in particular ;-)) but also because they share there family life with you for example by showing you all their pictures of major events in their life.

10) The genuineness of the hospitality, the desire to please

11) When my Kazakh friend fed horse meat into my visiting father’s mouth as part of a Kazakh tradition (as aty). The look on my dad’s face was priceless and he still tells everyone about that story

12) The joy of seeing their faces and experiencing their joy in sharing bishbarmak with me

13) Attending the ribbon cutting on a one year old’s birthday. It was so moving!

14) Being treated to one of the most hospitable meals and friendly company I can remember

15) Their incredible hospitality. They will share their last morsel with you, even if they just met you.

16) eating at a Kazakh home is always fun I try to go when ever im invited i’ve done the sheep head and bishbarmak more times than i can count but my favorite meal is invited me over for only borsh she said that she “I know its not much but you like it so i hope your not offended that i didnt make a big meal” i know that here having me over for soup is true friendship.

(survey results to be continued)

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Bleak Realities of Hurramabad (Part II)

My favorite short story from Hurramabad was the third one, “Sammy.” An old Russian woman has a garden snake live with her that slithered up from her basement. She domesticated it with milk and benign kindness only to find out later that it is a poisonous viper. Interesting ending which I thought must have a lot of symbolic meaning to it. If only the author would unwrap some of the mystery to this simple story. The others like “A Local Man,” “First on the List,” “The House by the River,” and “A Foreigner” are about men trying to fit into the society but because of war, prejudice and general chaos, the stories either have ambivalent or dismal endings.

Some quotes I found interesting from “Hurramabad:”

p. 20 – “The ills to which all flesh is heir.” [I wonder where that quote is from?]

p. 28 ‘ “Bud-nabud, iak kase bud…” Maybe it happened, and maybe it didn’t, but once upon a time…” Traditional beginning of Tajik fairtytales [Volos perhaps used much truth from his living in Tajikistan to build his fictional short stories]

p. 35 “Apparently, there is in this world a sophisticated pleasure to be derived from making a fool of a man, and knowing that not only is he unaware of what you are up to, but is actually under the impression that your derision is the height of hospitality. If Makushin had not later stayed in Tajikistan, if he had not insisted on squeezing himself into a foreign skin which rankled to this day, he would have remained in blissful ignorance of who they had crucified him, their drunk and happy guest, at the table of hospitality. He was a foreigner, an outsider, he didn’t belong. He failed to register even ten percent of the overtones with which their words resonated; he saw only what was on the surface. They played their game with him as if he were an insect blindly crawling over a puzzling glass surface which others could see through.”

p. 37 “In olden times, they say, at the feasts of the beks, there was one special little sheep’s bone they put in here for guests they did not approve of…Clever people say God created it specially for such a purpose…Do you see how? Yes, they would place a little, tiny bone so that the guest would surely choke and die…Oh, things like that the beks would surely do!

p. 49 “Then he heard the shrill voices of two old traders at neighboring counters and, coming closer, halted in amazement. To his ear it seemed that, however improbably, they were furiously reciting poetry, trading menacing, singsong lines from some infinite epic. Listening as carefully as he could, Makushin finally made out that this verse dialogue revolved around something called piez. He decided, upon reflection, that this must be the dawn, the beloved, a nightingale or some such entity. He had heard a lot about the beauty of oriental poetry. On the other hand, given the way those present periodically burst out laughing and slapped their knees, the poem might be of a humorous nature. When the recital finally began to pall, he sought clarification from a stocky greengrocer who, smiling courteously, explained that Shavkat and Fotekh were simply swearing at each other, piez being an onion. Fotekh was railing at Shavkat for selling his pathetic Reghar onions at the same price Fotekh was charging for his fine Danghara onions.

“But why are they arguing in rhyme?” Makushin asked in perplexity. Judging from the greengrocer’s expression he had no idea what rhyme was, but was not about to admit that to a stranger.

p. 66 “Farukh sits high on the back of a sheep. Bright shine the stars in the dark sky so deep.” [a kind of shibboleth/sibboleth test] So that was their game. They were making him recite this nursery rhyme in order to test his pronunciation. A Kulyab from the countryside would invariably come to grief on the sibilants in “sheep” and “shine.”

p. 218 “Muslim [that’s the character’s name] had called him brother since fate had set the two of them side by side in the ranks of one of the vigilante units, handfuls of frightened and unfortunate people who had joined together at the crossroads in tight little groups on a February night of pogroms. The crucified city was howling in fear and pain; the air itself seemed full of violence, rape and robbery.”

p. 228 “What kind of life are we living now? We’re like troglodytes!”

p. 232 “The past was open and comprehensible, but for some reason there was no future. In place of lively pictures of his aspirations he was seeing only a grey shroud in which there seemed to be no place for him at all.”

p. 237 “Beat your own people to scare the foreigners”

As we celebrate this Good Friday another “stranger” who came to earth and was beaten and brutally killed for our sins [just watch Mel Gibson’s “Passion” to know what bloody violence is], I pause to reflect on the hope that we have come Easter Sunday. Hurramabad has no hope though it is supposedly “the mythical city of joy and happiness where there is always an abundance of fresh water and shade.”

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