My last posting was about work, but that’s only part of my day. Unfortunately, it’s most of most days, but not my whole experience. Life outside of work is pretty slow though.
I have found local pickup indoor soccer, which is a lifesaver most weeks. Team sports remains my favorite way to relieve stress. We play 4v4 at a local school on the basketball court with indoor goals set up on either end. I wish we had a futsal ball, but we usually play with a Size 4 instead. Some of the guys are pretty good with the footwork. The small court makes the game revolve a lot around making runs and passing, and really neutralized my speed advantage. I have a lot of room for improvement.
My host-sister and her daughter moved out because she is going to start working in the city. That just leaves my host mom and me in the house. I’m going to try and start cooking more often. We made tortillas last week and some version of a seafood taco with imitation crab meat. Earlier this week we had a movie marathon. She had borrowed a DVD from a friend that had 40 episodes of a TV series on it. So Sunday though Wednesday was pretty much made up of watching 40 hours of television during any free moment we had. It was actually great practice for my Russian.
I met my neighbor last weekend randomly. I was eating lunch with a guy I had met earlier in the week, and there was another guy there. So Guy I Know (Nurlan) says to us, you know you two live in the same house, right? (I live in a duplex.) We both look at each other, slightly confused. Nurlan continues, yeah, you live in the same house. My neighbor didn’t even know I was living in the house, which is weird, but I’d never seen him before either. So that’s how I met my neighbor.
For the reverse of that story, I was walking around town last Saturday because I had nothing else to do. (I’m still trying to find a good translation for “I have nothing else to do” in Russian, as it is something I want to say all the time.) I walked into a magazine that is clear across town from my house. And as soon as I open my mouth, the girl behind the counter asks if I’m the American that lives with Fatima. Apparently her mom is friend’s with my host-mom, and her mom had actually talked to me on the phone the previous night. So my own neighbor doesn’t know me, but people clear across town seem to.
I don’t know why, but I love answering the phone at my house. It’s hardly ever for me, but I enjoy saying “Nyet tu” when they ask for someone else. Last week two people actually talked to me for a while even though they weren’t originally wanting to. One claimed I had a phone number I did not have, and would not believe me when I said I didn’t. The other asked why I didn’t know Kazakh if I’m living in Kazakhstan. I get that question almost every time I meet someone. It’s really annoying.
I am learning how to juggle. For Christmas, my parents sent me a book about juggling that came with three bean bags. I leave the balls out on the table and practice a few times a day whenever I walk by. My basic three ball cascade is slowing improving, although I still lose it after about 30 seconds. I’m also working on some tricks. I think in two years, I should be decent.
This week I vowed to begin learning Kazakh, but I still haven’t started. I need to. I am tired of being left out at social events because I don’t know what on Earth the people around me are saying. I guess I could make local Russian friends, but our town probably has about a 2% Russian population.
Updates from when I wrote this a few weeks ago. My host brother has moved home for a few weeks. He's having trouble finding work with the financial crisis. So it's been fun to have him around. I was left alone last week and made gnocchi (maybe spelled like that). Its potato pasta dumplings and it was so easy and tasty. I am much better at the juggling now.
In response about people smiling in the photos, people here don't smile in photos usually. Some of the Kaz20s actually take a series of photos now. We have the normal smiling, the Kazakh (serious), the open mouth (in honor of Christina), and the dinosaur (in honor of Jessie trying to do the open mouth. I think that's where it originated anyway.)