Saturday, September 16, 2006
First of all, Friday was not a great day for baby. She tried to smile but the tiredness from being sick was too much. So we left the camera in the bag and just held her and walked. She was a sweetheart even when sick.
Between visits to Malutka on Friday, we worked on our tourist shopping. I’d seen nice stamps at the Post Office last Sunday, so we returned Friday during working hours. We got some very nice stamps of Kazakhstani wildlife, sports, music, people, space program for Aigerim. Something bizarre (but harmless and entertaining) happened with a stranger who asked if either of us spoke German. I said, in horrid German, only a little. This apparently means "open the firehose" in some protocol I don't know. His name is Enrico, he is fifty-sixtyish, he lives in Karaganda with his wife, has two sons, one of whom lives in Hamburg, his father was half Italian half Polish (hence "Enrico") his mother was Russa, he studied electro-physics in Tomsk, he and his wife lived in Germany (she doesn't speak German) , they moved to Karaganda for a better climate, he emails someone in German or maybe English, and he found my German a little substandard (THAT'S WHAT "only a little" MEANS) but decided I forgot because I learned it so long ago. Mitch could contribute in Swedish and electro-physical terminology, which was stirred without question into the mix. The stamp seller, another individual, was doing something for us the whole time.
We left, spun, after having had a discussion in pseudolanguage with someone who had explained to us that he had studied Maxwell's equations in Siberia.
That was fun.
If Aigerim was not well, neither of us was feeling all that great either. I am tired of the feeling in my stomach (you are tired of reading it, doubtless) and surprised at how many pharmaceutical products I miss from my house. I have not had this trouble traveling before. Until this trip, ibuprofen, pepto bismol, benadryl and immodium have been the only over-the-counter aids I’ve ever carried, and the immodium has only been pulled out in very rare situations. Dear Mitch coughs. We are fortunate that the apartment is warm, the bath water is hot, and our schedule is pretty simple and allows for a lot of time to recover.
The apartment is really nice. The city hot water (turned on, as you heard, last Monday) not only provides a nice shower, it silently heats the radiators throughout the apartment. If anything, the apartment is too warm when we return home! The updated windows can provide some cooling if we need it: we don’t need it. The cleaning lady comes twice a week and our hello/please/thankyou/goodbye repertoire of Russian is used earnestly. The apartment is quiet and clean and warm and comfortable.
Vladimir, the driver, got tired of our repertoire and added “home?” (Dom) and “good evening” (Dobria vaycha) just to shake it up.
We spend a lot of time in the little kitchen, at the table. We can watch the washing machine, brew up coffee or tea or bouillon, and get something out of the fridge all without moving more than one step any direction. It is convenient.
As far as bouillon, I’m still stocked thanks. The smallest container had 48 blocks of it. Only 42 left as far as I recall.
The washing machine is quite conscientious. It runs for about three hours. Of course, we have little idea what settings we told it.
Our afternoon with Aigerim was again spent indoors. Some of the other children are showing sickness too, just little sniffy colds, but it sure makes them uncomfortable.
Friday night, I wanted to indulge my stomach and got a grilled half chicken with cooked vegetables and hot French fries at “Johnny Walker Pub”.
On our way there, the sun broke through the damp clouds and lit up the Palace of the Coal Miners stunningly.
At Johnny Walker Pub, the waitstaff wear kilts, and bring you the pub menu as well as a sushi menu. The bigscreen tvs played “Patch Adams” silently. We decided that a good actor is one that doesn’t need to have his or her dialog heard to convey what is happening. Robin Williams certainly qualifies. I still cringe over the “Mork” days but we all have things we wish we hadn’t had to do.
For our homies at the Catamount in Santa Fe, we tried the local version of the margarita. The photo is blurry. It sort of suits. The salt is table salt, the garnish is a lemon, and while the menu said Sauza Gold and Sauza Silver, it isn’t clear if either made it into the mix. Something alcoholic did, doubtless, and the greenish liquid had a somewhat familiar sweet and sour taste to it. Here’s to the Catamount.
Saturday went GREAT at Malutka. We walked in to see Miss Great Big Grin who came paddling toward us and put her arms up. Oh yea. What a dear.
Remember the big pink snowsuit bag? We figured it was either going to be child abuse to put her into it, we thought it was so big, or as Mitch called her “checked baggage”: nope! Still a little quiet from being sick, she loved the softness and warmth and HELD STILL in it, loving it. I am no longer embarrassed to take it to the nannies as it will not look like I have zero idea of my own daughter’s size.
We went back into Room 4 after everyone was settled and the nannies weren’t so busy, and asked to take their photos with Aigerim. I call the lady on the left “Kondarush” which is not anything like her name, we know this from the giggles in the background, but my Kazakh stinks: I do hope to get her name properly spelled at least by the time we leave.
The nanny on the right took over and took Marie Aigerim through her paces. Oh my goodness! We got the “operations” manual for that baby!
She is a treat!
We shopped more at lunch, finding a child’s book of Kazakhstan (I have been able to translate ten Russian words – one hour’s work – so far – only about a thousand more to go…) and stopping at Aladdin restaurant for lunch.
Mitch, who does not live in the rich cat-like fantasy world I do, surprised me by stepping into Aladdin, looking around at the geni and lamp and gaudy painted walls and saying “Oh, our friends aren’t here – let’s go”.
What? Oh! I get it. We had already been sighted by the staff. We did not feel up to the purple clouds and the funhouse 1001 Arabian Nights décor. Dinara had told us “good for children”. We saw now what she meant…
We walked back in the direction we had come. We had heard of the pilot statue, and Mitch had found his story. In WWII, this pilot had run out of ammunition when he saw a tank column heading for his troops. The statue pretty eloquently shows his decision and his trajectory. A brave man.
There was a grill on the corner we had passed, and it looked like a place ordinary folks were having an ordinary lunch. No lurid turbaned fantasy creatures looming on the walls. It advertised Efes. It also said “grill bar” in English.
Efes is the brand of beer made at the factory we pass every day on the way to Malutka. In fact, on one side of the road is the Efes Beer factory, on the other, Karaganda Confyet – confections – candy! (We also had found a shop of Karaganda chocolates and got a test box. Oh, those are just fine! )
No English, so we laughed at looked at the Russian menu. Mitch recognizes Myasa as meat, so we sort of at least got onto the main dish pages. The waitress was really kind and helpful. I flipped through the menu book and she returned me to the pages of things proper for lunch meals. We tried “meat Kazak” to be told no, meaning there was none. We looked at some other things and the waitress pointed at an entry and gave it a thumbs up and we ordered two of them. Then what to drink. There was an Efes poster. We pointed. We spent the time waiting for the food translating the details of the dish we had ordered. “Mayonnaise”, “Egg”,”Garlic”, “Onion” – and then it arrived. Wowee it was tasty!
Other folks had metal cafeteria trays, but maybe that goes with what you order. You can see the pretty presentation and the variety of things on the plate. The rice and the meat were delicious and I can’t recall every greeting canned peas so warmly ever in my life.
Malutka afternoon was marked by trying the “new” bottle – a Playtex thing from the States, with the 3-6 month “fast” flow nipple. As if. It took half an hour to down the 4 o’clock bottle, the one we once clocked at 2 minutes. Before I boiled up the nipple last night, I enlarged the hole a little bit (of course it says not to. It also probably says don’t leave your kid in an orphanage.) and we will see how this goes. I am not looking to match the speed of the milk-bong but something in between would work.
We spent a lot of time watching Aigerim, wondering if the kefir was thin enough to even go through the opening of the nipple yesterday. She didn’t complain and kept at it until it was gone.
Yesterday, Olga told me I would have my Ministry of Education interview at 5:00 on Monday afternoon. She prepped me with some questions. I don’t know at what point I started having anxiety attacks about bureaucracy. My heart starts up and then I get my breath and slow it down. Maybe it’s because of my dismal experience with the USCIS.
It’s not so much that I fear the outcome as I fear the ordeal. I will survive. I know this :)
The MoE interview is the big test. It is another step forward. We keep taking steps.