Friday, August 28, 2009

The little things in Almaty

After being here for a year, I was feeling like I had done just about everything. Life is becoming more routine. It’s now my second August here. I’ve done the weddings. I’ve done the gostings. Life is still an adventure, but some of the surprise seems to be gone. However, during my last Almaty trip I was happy to:

Meet the English theater group at KIMEP. KIMEP is an American-style university in the center of Almaty. All of the students are required to speak English, as the classes are taught in English. They have a library full of books in English. And because it’s a business school, they had a ton of economic books in English! I felt chills. And they have an English language theater group ( They were a lively bunch, and this year will be staging How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Grease: The Musical. I wish I could buy my tickets now, but I don’t think their available yet. From one of the students, I found out about…

Find a free Nintendo Wii in Almaty! Not free to take home. But free to play. It’s in Omega Zone on Gogol near Ablai Xan. It’s in the downstairs of this Internet café. They also have Rock Band and PS3 to play, but those cost money. For some reason though, the Wii is besplatno (free!). Maybe it’s not popular. And I guess for the crowd that would be attracted to a gaming center, it may not be. But after Ainalain had received a free Wii in July (but haven’t been able to get electricity until September), I’ve had a Wii craving. I just wish I would have known about the game selection before playing. Now I’ll always have something to do when I find myself bored in the city.

Find the Konaev Museum. After failing to find a museum with my family, I happened to stumble upon one myself while wandering the streets. It was small. And a typical museum in dedication to a person here. Lots of pictures of him. Some memorabilia. Little information on what he actually did. I need to brush up on my Kazakhstani political history. Konaev? He sounds important enough that a ton of stuff is named after him, but I don’t really know what he did.

Be in a commercial/infomercial/something for a Singapore technology company. The director of KELT told me her friend needed extras to play tourists in a video being made by the Ministry of Education. Turns out it was for a technology company whose products are used in Kazakshtani schools. I had to pretend to be lost and a young Kazakh girl gave me directions in English. Of course she was able to speak English because of the technology in the schools! Unfortunately, my friend was cut as they started the process after they sent her to change t-shirt colors. I don’t know who it will be broadcast for, but I hope I make the cut. Take that Krystal!

Meet the new trainees! Although my life is becoming normal, a new group of Americans just arrived last week. Sixty something young, middle-aged, and even slightly older new volunteers ready to change the world and have their dreams crushed. Or expectations lowered. Or managed. We even persuaded some to hit a nearby café for a few drinks. They were eager and full of questions. It’s hard to remember what I was like back then, but it must have been similar. I wish them all success, and hope the coolest ones end up replacing Dave and Susannah.


jamie said...

Cheers to the coolest new volunteers heading to the Zhambyl Oblast! I'm finally back in Kaz, let's try to meet up one of these days. I'm going to need a break from Kazakhstan. :)

Anonymous said...

Just a small correction - KELT is, not bz. Good luck!

A friend of KELT