Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lost in the City

Me and Johnny, my new best friend lol.
BLOG #19
October 11
Today was a pretty typical Sunday, went to Almaty with Anna and Denise and met Roshan there. Roshan is an interesting character, I like him. He's from California so he's super laid back haha - when I first met him I told him, "I think that you are the look Michael Jackson was going for but he didn't quite get it right.." lol. He has the longer black hair and smile and always wears a blazer. It was so funny introducing him to locals. First of all his name is a Russian name given to girls (Rashawn). He looks somewhat asian and they are just boggled that he is an American. He explains (in Russian, which people expect him to speak Kazakh by the way he looks), my mom was from China and my dad was from India... but I'm an American. People here can't fathom that someone would be an American if they looked different from white or black. (He said leaves out that he was born in Singapore, because that would just throw them over the top). Sidd, who is Indian, is known as chorny - or black lol. He is also not an American here :) People are funny.
The one thing I'm not sure I'll get used to in the two years I'll be here is the lack of consideration for others around you in general public areas. By that I mean, not the space issue, but the general unspoken walking rules. Like, you walk on the right side of the sidewalk - unless you are passing. Even more than that just letting someone pass by you, or not standing in the middle of a walkway, hanging out with your friends. It's so weird. I know it's not meant to be offensive, but if someone knocked you out of the way or stepped in front of you inconsiderately, that could be interpreted as a threat in New York or something... that's dangerous lol. I can't help but think it's rude to not walk in public correctly. And it's frustrating. People just push and shove to get where they want. This attitude is actually reflected in so many parts of the culture, walking, driving, speaking in classes, reaching at the dinner table, lesson scheduling. Ok. Now I feel better :)
So in Almaty today, we decided to take a different bus we had been told goes to the same place... We were on the bus just fine, but realized it was taking longer than normal... Anna, who studied in Russia for a semester, asked him about the intersection we needed. He mumbled some uninterpretable explanation. Then he told us to get off... not even at an intersection. We did. We asked some random couple for directions, who told us we should go near the circus. That also is incorrect lol. So we got a taxi and he did a complete U Turn as soon as we got in the car lol. We did make it there, eventually. (20 min late... not too bad) After church we went to the kok bazaar. Another unsuccessful trip to the bazaar for Nina. I just can't get used to that scene. It's so overwhelming - everyone yells at you, people beg, plus being there with 3 other people. You can barely walk, let alone keep track of your group. I don't trust any of those sellers either lol. My own host mom tried to pawn me into buying some turtle neck this morning! lol. Forget it. I'd rather be ripped off thinking I'm getting a sale, then be ripped off for being someone I can't help but be.
We then made our long trek to a coffee shop we had heard had wi-fi. Another below average decision. The bus system here is so confusing. (Maybe in part because we don't know the language) It's like buses stop whenever they want, they don't stop at the same stops every time. It's almost like it's everyman for himself with the buses. So, lost twice, in short, and at the insanely overpriced coffee shop, there were so many people there that the connection was super slow. ...Now I know. But to say the least, it was a perfect day to get lost in the city... beautiful weather and no time constraints. (But I am super relieved to not have been placed in a city for my permanent site!)
It's such an awkward feeling now, knowing my site. It's like I suddenly have a disconnect with Panfilova now... Like this isn't my real host family, these aren't my real students, or my village. Aigul leaves this Friday. Everything is changing again - of course. It's hard to remember today, and not be focused on the near, near future :) (I hope Johnny likes to hike!)

1 comment:

  1. Noelle - this is such a funny way to get to know someone - by reading their blog! A blog about adventures in places I could only dream of going. You are an inspiration! And I know your new village is going to absolutely fall in love with you!