Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Avat Host Family

"Swearing In" was November 10th, televised on all 3 National Kazakhstan television stations, I was on TV, said my name and where I was going. I said goodbye to my host family, gave them some tea and some teacups and a Tom and Jerry dvd that I bought on the streets of Almaty for their 5 year old granddaughter. I was given a traditional Uyghur hat which is what I'm wearing in these photos with my old host mother and father. It was such a nice gift and i felt bad cause all i got them was tea. I jumped on the train heading straight north for 20 hours and got off in Jenghis Tobe, a two hours drive from Ust-Kamenogorsk, where my camera was promptly stolen. I took a cab to the city then a bus to the village where I met my new host babooshka, a 66 year old woman and former director of the collective farm that was Vinnoye under the Soviet Union. Ive started teaching, 6 classes back to back on Mondays and Wendesdays, and Im looking for things to do in the rest of my free time. Im only 30 minutes from the city so its good to have the opportunity to experience both urban and rural Kazakhstani life. The transition from New York City to Vinnoye is as expected, quite difficult. However, getting to know the people and creating good relationships is much easier here than in New York. I have internet access from an internet cafe in Ust, so I should be connected at least once a week. While walking to the internet cafe today I passed through a meat marker, rows and rows of fresh meat on makeshift tables, plus the heads of every domesticated animal you could think of lined up under these tables. Most of them had gaping holes in their skulls where Im guessing the brain was removed. The weather dips below freezing every day now and its only a matter of time before the snow comes. Time to try to find some nice wooden skiis.
My transition to a Kazakh man must first come with my attire. It becomes pretty obvious that im a foreigner when i walk around in real Nike's. Usually I get looked at from my feet up, so ive purchased some snake skin looking pointy dress shoes to wear wherever I go. Ive also found a nice warm hat with some ear flaps (the traditional Uyghur hat just doesnt cut it in the winter up north unfortunately) and am searching out some tight dress pants and the kitchiest tie i can find: hey, there are some things about Borat that just might be true.