Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Plans and A Quick Story

I’ve been busy. And not. And busy. And sick. And lots of things. I’m actually on a pretty packed schedule until the end of July. This week I’m helping at two camps. One is baseball camp which was AWESOME today. And the second is an ecology camp that my org is running that starts tomorrow. After that I’m going to a training for a new Youth Bank starting in my town sponsored by the Eurasian Foundation and Activ. Then I’m going to another camp hosted by my org for two weeks. Then Almaty for my Peace Corps medical check up. Then I look up for air and it’s already July 25h and my family is coming in three weeks after that.

Anyway, I am still enjoying the city. We went to a rock concert last week. I got sick last week. I read Dune finally and can’t remember being so satisfied with a book after I finished it. I doubt the sequels will live up to it. I’ve hosted three couchsurfers and met tons of great people so far in the city. And I went back and gostied at my old host family’s house for my Toma’s birthday party (she turned 3!) I hope to write more soon, but I wanted to get something up since it’s been a long time.

Oh, a quick unrelated note. Like any time you learn a foreign language, sometimes synonyms can be tricky. You want to know how words are different and you can learn false reasons just to distinguish them. I don’t know where some of these come from in Kazakhstan (maybe that dastardly British English so popular around these parts!) but below is an example of one discovered by my friend last week.(I wasn’t there, so I had to fill in the details as close to the real facts as I can imagine)

Hanman: Hey English Theater kids hanging out at the bus stop. What’s up?
One ETKHOATBS: We were supposed to meet today, but Michael is ill, so we didn’t stay long.
Hanman: Oh, yeah, I heard he was sick.
One ETKHOATBS: Sick? What’s sick?
Two ETKHOATBS: I know. That’s like ill, but in the head. (motions to the head while doing this)
One ETKHOATBS: Ohhhhhh.
Hanman (chuckles and thinks about how ripped he’s getting).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jingle Bells

I forgot to include this in my blog about singing songs on the bus. Because most of the songs were in Russian, I sat there trying to think of a song I could suggest in English that everyone would know. And honestly, even I struggle with most songs when they aren’t part of the chorus. I had one in mind, but it just seemed silly. But I was certain they would know it. Fortunately, my hesitation was solved when a sympathetic volunteer for our organization started the exact song I was thinking of: Jingle Bells. Everyone knew it. Maybe 20 of us belting out Jingle Bells on a bus in Kazakhstan at the end of May. And they especially enjoyed my embellishments of “hahaha” and “hey.” Next they tried “I just called to say I love you,” but we couldn’t get pass the chorus. Travel tip in Kazakhstan: if you want people to join in with you for the whole song, stick with Jingle Bells.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Perfect Weekend (two)

So my last blog left off with me moving into the great unknown of the city with few local friends and a world of unknown possibility. I’ve only been here a week, but so far, it has been awesome. With a combination of better Russian skills, warm weather, other PCVs, working in a youth organization, and living in a city, I had an amazing introduction to life here.

Last Friday night, I went with fellow PCV Hanman to see live music at a local club with some locals dancers that he knows. The band wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. It played mainly danceable songs in both Russian and English. But live music at a club! You don’t get that in the villages.

The next day we woke up and rode out to his village with some of the dancers from the night before to meet one of his colleagues. Yes, after hearing about picnics for months now, I was finally going on one. This one was complete with horseback riding (his colleague had two of his fourteen horses out for us to ride); kielbasa, tomato, and cucumber sandwiches; frisbee throwing; and a dip in the river. When I got back, I was supposed to go to a concert with a guy from work, but he got the times mixed up. It was okay; I was exhausted.

Sunday I woke up to go on my second picnic of the weekend. My work had organized a trip with a local dance school to go to the mountains. We played mafia, ate noodles with meat, and then went on a three hour hike on the hills around our site. Aidos and Acel and I got separated from the rest of the group but we climbed three of the hills ourselves. Of course, I forgot my camera, but it was awesome nonetheless. Then we got back and threw the Frisbee in a circle for about half an hour before packing up and going. On the way back, we stopped at a historical city with warm stones and sung old Russian songs on the bus.

So if you’re comparing this with the first perfect weekend, there are some similarities: friends, Frisbee, and singing on car trips. Mix those things together, and I’ll probably be happy.

I doubt that my life will consistently be as exciting as that, but that was a wonderful way to get acquainted here. I’m really excited to be here in the city and at my new organization. I’ll post more about my first impressions soon.