Topic: From Nanci
Almaty never ceases to amaze! Have I mentioned how cosmopolitan this city is? Imagine European stylized, beautiful, women walking around in an urban, new york style city with snow everywhere and buildings built for the soviet republic. What do they sell here? well how do chanel, brioni, cartier, yves st laurent, ermenegilda zegna, bang and olufson and (my fav) Ligne Roset(!) all sound to you? And thats just for starters.
The restaurants! Well, ok Kazakh food aside - but did I remember to mention the camel's milk (moloka) in addition to the previously mentioned horsemeat? anyway, the other meals in fine restaurants were to die for. i had entrecote last night (with chicken,mushrooms and melted cheese in a white a sauce and the best diced potatos, tomatoes, and green beans ever!) all for $8.00 USD. what can i say. but the locals never eat out. they want their "better" home cooked food and they can't understand why we eat out. well, we can't understand why they eat in?!..........to each their own.
Sights. Here is a brief update. More city walks, beautiful Panfilov Park, with unbelievably beautiful church, incredible park monuments (kazakh, yet soviet in style -> big hulking figurines representing - well, i don't know what - couldnt' read the signs - you get used to that here...), the beautiful city mosque, some incredible,delicate, old, kazakh-style buildings (few and far between) built all in wood and in startling contrast to the cement made, soviet-style hulking buildings, and lastly a wonderful museum of ancient kazakh instruments.
At the instrument museum, we paid 50 cents admission, and were followed by our personal, (unsolicited), "docent", a pleasant 70 year old (he told us) kazakh man whose descriptions of the history of the instruments were mostly decipherable through the (non russian) accent. we learned about the instruments of the kazakhs, uzbeks, russians, kyrgyks, turkmens, tartars,mongols, chinese, koreans, pakistanis, well, etc..... Oh and then he serenaded us with the 2 string dombra, performing songs of kazakh, mongol, chinese and some other styles - the contrasts and similarities were fascinating - well, then he brought out "his" tape cassette, and i suppose we were had. we had to buy it. nice scam. but it should be fun to listen to (once)!!!!! But really, he was a wonderful man to encounter and made the museum charming.
Did I mention the babuskha nazis? Genice will elaborate in the blog, but I have to say something on the subject. Babies MUST go outside with the hat on, the hood on, and the winter jacket buttoned ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP BUTTON (which is impossible to do because with two hats on, since its really too tight, she hates it and cries, and then we are stuck with an unhappy baby). But if you don't do this before you go out, you will be stopped by every woman on the street. I mean EVERY woman. So we always hat her up and button her up, to the very last button on her jacket, which i call the "Babushka Button."
The baby is doing GREAT. She eats and eats and gained ONE POUND in 16 days. Not bad. She loves to play and has a wonderful laugh. She makes sentences: "blah blah blah blah blah blah BLAAAAA". And she has perfected the fanciful raspberry spit-rolling, with delight. Watching the catchup development on a daily basis is heart warming. I identify areas of weakness, like she is a wobbly sitter, and we work on it. Every day she has sitting time. Now, she sits well for at least 10 minutes without falling over. Its incredible to see these changes.
I had my first experience GOING to the pediatrician. Can I say how bizarre that was? All morning i was preparing for the visit, thinking things like - what should she wear, should we feed her first, what if she spits up- oh that will be terrible. OH and then I had my WAIT A MINUTE moment: I am a pediatrician. Babies spit up in my office all the time, i never notice. their outfits, i never notice. Are they fed? Oh yes I notice. (Pediatricians don't like to examine hungry fussy babies! ) How funny it was to catch myself thinking not-like-a-doc.
Two more days. Have tix to opera and ballet (4 bucks each) in a fancy opera house that makes the Met look blase. Trip to the mountains upcoming. Some shopping and thats it.
Really looking forward to coming home though, as much as i love it here. I am far, far away in a strange land, like i've never been to before and literally on the other side of the planet. It will take me a while to complain about going all the way across town to the toronado for a beer or for a drive down to the south bay to meet up with my friends! (ok, maybe not too long, so don't be getting all your hopes up!!! :)
Miss you all, thanks for all your well wishes along the way,
ps still searching for Borat (for you HBO fans)
Thursday, January 20th