Monday, November 30, 2009

Zhamballers Do It Again

I remember my first Thanksgiving in Kazakhstan. I was in a small village looking at an organization with no work. I went home and shyly asked my host mom if I could make mashed potatoes. I did. But she put in too much animal lard and runied the taste.

Then I was swept away to Taraz where we had a fabulous meal Saturday, met all of our new 'blasties, and entertained locals with the game of Cowboy, Bear, Indian. This year we (me, Jamie, and Jennie) felt like we had to live up to the expectations.

Although I had claimed the turkey responsiblities, Jennie was the one that came through. Apparently, Kulan is the turkey capital of Kazakhstan. She had no trouble finding and picking out a good-sized bird (4 kilos, about nine pounds). Our menu was elaborate and detailed. And then I was scheduled to work! A project we just started was launching and then the youth bank was having a crucial meeting. So I had to go in for most of the day. However, Jamie and Jennie was great in the kitchen.

We cooked for the whole day, and the newbies joined in as they arrived. Mark made great potatoes and Jessica handled the veggies. Courtney handled lagman. Laura and Chris came a little late but still brought apple sauce and squash. And then our local friends brought sushi, chips, and dessert. Overall, we had about 16 people (8 volunteers, 8 locals), and a menu of

Mashed Potatoes
Hotard Casserole
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Glazed Carrots
Macoroni and Cheese
Sauteed corn
Fried lagman
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Bread
Spice Cake
World Famous Morris Rolls
Apple Sauce

We were all stuffed by the end of it, with the only problem maybe being a lack of leftovers.

Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm now in Jaipur. I've been here in India for over week and the first stomach problems are cropping up. :( But I guess they are unusallly inevitable. I don't have much time to write so I'll just sum up some hightlights I may talk more about later:

Meeting CS Vikram and having dinner with him
Seeing Octopussy in Udaipur on a hotel rooftop with an old Hindu temple nearby
Meeting CS Jai and his family
Playing cards on the sleeper bus from Mumbai
Swimming in maybe crocodile-infested Tiger Lake
Clubbing at Red Light in Mumbai
Seeing the slums of Dhavi.
Reading the Maraharabatabataa (sorry for misspelling it) while in India
Most of the food

Things I haven't liked:
honking horns
autorickshaw drivers
everyone trying to sell me something
evergreen hotel in Jaipur

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


So yesterday for those of you that follow Mumbai news, they were supposed to be hit by a cyclone (about equivalent to a tropical storm.) Somehow we missed this fact while we were on a 27 hour train ride and ended up getting a hostel right near the bay. But it was okay because despite canceling schools and closing offices, the storm never hit! it was just rainy in the morning and windy.

No pictures right now, but here are some thoughts. Trains in India are different (more on that later) than one's in Kazakhstan. There are way more men than women. Everywhere. It's strange. Food isn't as spicy as I hoped. Definitely not enough tears. I bought lunch for 60 cents yesterday and it was huge. People here who try to sell you things can't be trusted. Other people are nice though. Couchsurfing is about 0 for 20, but that's what happens when you have three people and wait until you are in India to ask for couches. We saw hard rock at a club here last night. It was very very loud. Oh and the Taj Mahal was beautiful.

Today: islands, beaches, and maybe a Bollywood film!

Friday, November 6, 2009


I'm going to India for a two week vacation. I spent the last week watching The Story of India made by BBC and dreaming of Indian food. I'm not going to speak Russian or think about all the work looming or the fact that I have to find and kill a turkey when I get back. Just India, Indian food, and hopefully warmer weather. I may blog from there but I probably won't.

Monday, November 2, 2009

40 Things to Do Before You Die

This list was compiled by my English speaking club a few weeks ago.

1. Clean the house
2. Travel the world
3. First Kiss
4. Say I Love You
5. Take a shower.
6. Go to the banya museum.
7. Help
8. Steal and fry a chicken
9. Parachute
10. Taste new foods (sweet potatoes, snake, Chinese food, human meat)
11. Buy presents for my family
12. Write a will
13. Change your style
14. Be emo.
15. Rob a bank
16. Get credit
17. Get a Korean BF
18. See sharks
19. Jump w/ a kangaroo
20. Be on the moon
21. Have a harem
22. See Lady Gaga, Rob Pattison, and Hollywood stars
23. Get a tattoo like 50 cent and Timati
24. Learn new languages
25. Speak w/ animals
26. Marry George Clooney
27. Be popular
28. Know English
29. Play ultimate Frisbee on a really soft field
30. See family
31. Find Alexandra parents
32. See old friends in S. Korea
33. Solve all the mysteries
34. Read minds.
35. Kill your neighbors.
36. Do a gobstop
37. Get a Michael Jackson coffin
38. See a demon
39. Get a Masters and a PhD
40. Read The Sound and the Fury
41. Have children.
42. Say I love you to my parents.
43. Be happy.