Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quick Update

Brad's here! We've had fun being super Kazakh. Yesterday, we built a
yurt, banya-ed, slept in it, then went horse riding today. Before
English Club! The trip has been great. Now, I'm sitting in an Internet
place where the people are amazed by my typing. Oh, the microregions.

Nauryz was cool but no Kokpar! And Almaty was fun. I even discoverd
the Raxat factory! And finally went to Medeo.

Well got to go eat us some manti. And Brad tried kurt but not when I
was around. Blin! More soon and guest blogging from Brad!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Russian Update, or In my opinion, we don’t have time and will be late

In my opinion, we don't have time and will be late

People tell me my Russian is getting good, but it still has a lot of gaps in it. I can watch movies and sitcoms pretty easily, but the History Channel or National Geographic still trips me up quite a bit. I can understand a basic newspaper, but most children's books are still full of unfamiliar words. However, I still find myself amused at certain parts of the language. Perhaps these only interest me, but here are some interesting words Russian has.

The first word is the verb "opozdat." That means "to be late." In English to express the same idea, we need an adjective and the form of the word "to be." But Russia has its own word for it. Why did you late? If you don't hurry, you will late. He always lates. Personally, I try never opozdat. And I think it's funny that in our culture that is super-sensitive to being late, we never evolved a verb for it. (Or is possessing the quality of lateness more shameful than committing the act of lateness?)

Another time verb that Russia has and we don't, is "uspit." It means to have time for something. I never realized how cumbersome, "to have time" is. And who are we to possess time in the first place? In Russian, I oo-spei-you, you, oo-spei-ish, we oo-spei-im. Or maybe you did not uspel, and you ended up opozdal.

They also have multiple words for "and." One is the regular "and" that you would use in a list. As in, "I am going to buy beets, cabbage, and(1) potatoes." But the other one is used to change the subject of a conversation. "How are you? I'm good, and(2) you?"

And(2) something I can't stop saying is "po-mo-e-moo," which means "in my opinion." Something about the way those syllables arrange themselves is really amusing. Probably because I'm saying moo twice.

Po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-spei-im i mu opozdaem. Or is maybe its actually, po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-speviam i mu budem opozdavaet. (I don't know if I'll ever grasp all the situations for perfective and imperfective verbs.) I just checked with my counterpart, it's actually variation 3: Po-mo-e-moo, mu nye u-speviam i mu opozdaem.

Michael Hotard
+7 777 323 8192
Peace Corps Volunteer - Kazakhstan

Monday, March 8, 2010


This is a great article on the exit sign around the world. I don't remember exactly which variation they use here, but it certainly is "The Running Man." I always thought it was funny that someone was running for the exit.

Michael Hotard
+7 777 323 8192
Peace Corps Volunteer - Kazakhstan

Thursday, March 4, 2010

48 Hours

(This happened back in Janauary; the month when interesting things
were still happening)

This past weekend managed to be really busy for me. It doesn't always
happen that way, but I decided to write up a detailed account. It will
probably bore most of you guys, but it was fun while it was happening!

7:30 PM Finish work and meet my friend to go to Avatar
8:00 PM Avatar in a real movie theater on a big screen, but with
really old seats that slanted funny
11:00 PM Meet AC at his place to hang out
11:45 PM Decide to check out a place I'd heard described as an
Almatanski (Almaty-like. If you want to turn a noun into an adjective
in Russian, usually you add ski if it's a place. Ni if it's a thing.
American => Americanski. Applecin (orange) => Applecini (orange
adjective (fruit, not color)). Palmedor (tomato) => Tomatni (tomato
adjective)) café. What was that I asked. You know, she said, it's
different. No, I said, I didn't know. She finally said candles, and
films on the walls, and just classier feeling.
12:00 AM Discover Taraz has a legit Lounge! So Almaty café = lounge.
Meaning, dim lighting, couches surrounding tables. Somewhat overpriced
drinks. Loungey music playing. And they also have an actual bar with
barstools there as well. Also a rare commodity. (Said Lounge is
Bacardi Bar and Lounge on Toli Bi behind Fresno if you ever want to
12:15 AM Meet manager of said lounge when she comes over and speaks to
us. Gives us her business card and says we're always welcome. Points
out a British guy at the bar.
12:30 AM Meet said British guy when he comes over to talk with us.
He's been working in Kstan for 8 years, but has been in Taraz for
about 2 weeks.
12:35 AM British ex-pats two friends come and join us.
1:00 AM We decide to go dancing at Navigator.
1:05 AM The five of us squeeze into a taxi and go to Navigator
1:10 AM Arrive at Navigator
1:15 AM Dancing begins.
4:00 AM Dancing ends.
4:10 AM Arrive home.
10:45 AM Wake up.
11:00 AM Leave for work on a Saturday begrudgingly.
11:20 AM Arrive at work to find that no one else has shown up for the
meeting as well.
11:30 AM Meet with Faruq who will take us to play soccer with some
people at his school.
12:00 PM Marks meets Faruq and me at work.
12:02 PM Leave for Faruq's school.
12:40 PM Arrive at Faruq's school to see children there in uniforms.
You guys had school today? Yeah, it's the first day back from break.
On a Saturday (yes, they children go to school on Saturday here). Why
12:50 PM Meet the director of Faruq's school and have a normal
conversation. Okay, so maybe after a year in a country I should expect
to be pretty good in a language, but I'm honestly amazed at how easily
I can communicate with people. It still seems strange to me that I can
talk with people.
1:00 PM Begin to play soccer. It is me, Mark, Faruq, and another kid
versus four other kids. I am 24, Mark is 27, they are all about 15. We
are playing indoor soccer at Faruq's school because I asked my
colleagues if they knew where we could play soccer. They talked to a
friend, and the friend said we could play there. Not quite what I had
intended, but it worked out well. The gym was rather small though,
probably about 3/4 of an actual basketball gym. The ball went out of
bounds a lot.
1:30 PM Win the first game with a score of about 3-2. Begin game two
with kids about 17 years old.
1:31 PM The other team scores their first goal.
2:00 PM Lose game to older kids with a score of about 4-2.
2:05 PM Go to lunch at the school with Faruq, Mark, and some of the
teachers. They offer us chai and kasha (porridge). Mark says that chai
and porridge are not good when someone is running around. They
disagree. I stay silent and drink the chai and eat my porridge. It's
my first meal in about 24 hours. I didn't have time to eat before
Avatar and I don't usually eat breakfast.
2:25 PM We begin game two of soccer.
2:45 PM Game two of soccer turns into a strange mix of basketball and
rugby. Perhaps it actually resembled Team Handball, but since I don't
really understand that game, I can't say for sure.
2:55 PM Soccer is pretty much over for the day, but we try to reassemble a game.
3:00 PM Mark says he needs to get going. I agree, and we bid the
school farewell.
3:10 PM Get on a bus going back to the center where my office is.
3:20 PM While Mark and I are talking in English, a guy on the bus
interrupts and asks, "Excuse me, but are you speaking English?" in
English. I answer, "No." He says he studied in American ten years ago,
but not he works on a bus.
3:30 PM Call Jennie who just had book club to ask her to go to lunch
at Mark's house.
3:40 PM Arrive at Mark's house for lunch. This is the third meal I've
eaten there in a span of five days. His host mom is a great cook. I
only self-invited myself over Tuesday. (Thursday was shoshlik and Mark
invited us. It was Jessica's first time eating shoshlik. She used to
be vegetarian, and still hasn't completely given it up. I argued that
if she is going to eat meat in Kstan, then she should at least eat
delicious meat.)
3:50 PM Chris tells Mark that he and Laura are about 15 minutes from
Taraz. They were supposed to get in at 5:00 and meet us at my place.
4:00 PM We are served our food. Beans with meat, a side of cabbage,
and a side of rice. Yes, beans! Beans! I know! A local cooked
something with beans. This is the first time I have ever seen this in
4:15 PM Jennie arrives at Mark's house. She too is amazed by the beans.
5:00 PM We leave Mark's house and call Chris. No answer.

Michael Hotard
+7 777 323 8192
Peace Corps Volunteer - Kazakhstan

February = cable TV

My friend Kyle recently posted that February seems to be a rough month
for PC volunteers in Kazakhstan. I'd agree. Even though I'm down south
and don't have the -40 cold they do up north, February just seemed
bleak. The trees are dead. The snow comes and goes and comes and goes.
It was pretty much a forgettable month.

Some things of note though... Okay, so I just noticed that I haven't
posted three of the blogs I have written recently. Or rather months
ago. That will be corrected soon. But back to February.

Cable TV! So for the first year in PC, we try to rough it. Or I did.
I'm a PC volunteer, you know? We want the hard life. However, by our
second year, we realize that often we try to rough it too much. Why do
all my students in English club have cable and internet and I don't?
Cable seemed unneccessary though. What will I really watch?

Answer: The Super Bowl. So I was down because it was going to be my
second year with no super bowl. When I thought, why? Turning on cable
is only 1500 tenge. And the monthly charge is 500 tenge. Surely I can
budget that somehow. So I turned on cable for the super bowl. And yes,
Mark and I did watch it as it was broadcast live at 5:00 in the
morning here. I did sleep through the half time show though.

And then I thought okay, now what? What else is available on my 75
channels? The Olympics! 24 hour coverage every day on Eurosport. Way
too much ski jumping and cross country skiing, but overall not bad.
And I got to see the figure skating programs. I think I'll post more
on cable TV and the Olympics later.

But now February is over. March is beginning. That means two major
holidays and a visit from Brad.

Happy Women's Day, too!