Happy New Year! :) The first day of 2010, I spent New Years Eve in Taldykorgan with some other volunteers. Some 21's from afar came. It was a pretty standard celebration. I picked up a package from Grandma Z and a letter from Denise!!! My host grandparents have been staying at our house for the past couple of days. They are here for the New Year and my host grandma turns 63 on the 3rd. I had met her before but I don't remember saying much to her. It was around the beginning of when I arrived here. I was very shy. This was the first time I have met the grandpa. He is really sweet and very encouraging with my language progression! I like that lol. He also told me I'll be the next US President in 2 years :) and he'll vote for me. It's nice when people talk to me like a normal human. I'm expecting that he keeps his word on the president thing, although I'm not sure what, of our conversations, he actually remembers... he has several shots at every meal.
Anar, a new teacher at my school - who is also 22, Muktar, a 22 year old distant cousin, and Tima, my host father's youngest brother, came over to be guests today. I thought it was just to hang out lol - then I thought maybe my host mom was playing cupid between Anar and Muktar. Turns out my host mom had in fact arranged... for Anar to meet Tima, the 40-something year old single man. I didn't put that together until after the facts, and now feel a little silly for showing all of the normal pictures of my family, state, blah blah blah. Apparently my routine circus performance was not needed for this occasion. I feel bad for Anar. Who would want to be set up with some old guy by a co-worker, who clearly has a tie to the man. Awkward. Muktar is nice - we went ice skating at the disco skating rink a while ago. I remember how surprised he was when I told him that "ko ko jumbo" wasn't a word.
Weddings happen very fast here. I'm sure most of the friends I have now will soon be married away and I'll be left to be the strange American old maid lol. I cringe when people throw out - well you should marry a Kazakh man and stay here forever! Always a sticky one to fend off haha. Not that I'm absolutely opposed to the idea or don't recognize it as a possibility. I try not to limit myself, knowing that God's will for me is unfathomable. But still. There is a so-called "old tradition" here called brideknapping. During PST, in one of our training villages there was a brideknapping incident. It involved knives. Basically a man steals a woman away and keeps her in his house for a period of time, signifying that she has been tainted (or probably raped) and no other man will take her. Thus, forcing her to marry this guy. Usually, it is a violent episode, but it is sometimes treated like a light-hearted joke-y type of proposal/eloping.
Saltanat, one day, cancelled plans we had made the previous day because her brother had gotten married. I was confused. This was the first I had heard about her brother being engaged even and Johnny told me that she was making it up to get out of hanging out. It turned into an inside joke... but after many questions and through both of our sub par language efforts, I have come to understand that he brideknapped his now wife because he is going into the army. They had been together before, though. It wasn't a big deal. I gained a lot of respect for a PC staff member a while ago, when she told me a brideknapping story of her own. This Kazakh woman told a group of us that she had been brideknapped in her youth and to get out of it, she shaved her head and chain smoked for a week straight! The man kicked her out haha. Go girl!