Sunday, 29 March 2009

Green light for green city

Have you voted Earth tonight by switching off the lights for one hour? R and I have voted by falling asleep at 19.00 without having dinner. Now it's 04.00 in the morning, I'm awake and hungry.
I also read discussion forums what people say about the Earth Hour initiative. The positive ones make lists for "what you can do in the darkness", for example to paint the body of your partner in the darkness and then to take pictures of the result.
Many are not so positive. Some parts of the city were left today without electricity due to the electricity failure during several hours. People from this parts went furious about their "involuntary" voting. Electricity failure is still a common practice here. I remember it was even a common practice in old Soviet times and even more in post-Soviet. I remember when the electricity was suddenly off during Christmas and New Year celebrations. I remember one winter when the whole heating system AND electricity was off during several weeks. We slept in the fur coats with bottles with warm water and made fire in the garden to cook food.
I like the city turns green and here are the very first leaves:

First tulips

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Наурыз кутты болсын!
Today is the third day people in Kazakhstan celebrate New Year called Nauriz, the greatest Kazakh holiday throughout the year. It's nice not to go to work on Monday!

Nauriz is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Iran, Central Asia, the Caucasus and Turkey on the spring equinox on 21-23 of March.Since Nauriz’s central theme is renewal and joy hence is the tradition on the eve of Nauriz to thoroughly clean you house, return all your debts, forgive all offences and resentments and to make peace with all with whom you were at odds.
Particularly in Kazakhstan they cook a special dish -- Nauriz Kozje (yogurt soup) -- prepared from 7 ingridients , that symbolize 7 elements of life:water, meat, salt, fat/oil, flour, cereals and milk. We tried it for the first time and it was ok, R was not exited so I ate the whole bowl.

Festivities on the main square, +20 degrees

Traditional sweets are very popular. Easy to put on some extra kilos after three days...

Me and my balloons... It was hard to find a parking place, but the police was implacableKazakh national carpets made from felt (войлок)

Felt brooch I bought at the festival:

Friday, 20 March 2009

Non-boring weather

Don't knock the weather;
nine-tenths of the people couldn't start
a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.
Kin Hubbard

Almaty three days ago, sunny, warm and outdoor seating, + 21 C.

Almaty yesterday, lots of snow, cold and refreshing, + 3-5 C.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Russia through Swedish eyes

This doesn't have anything to do with Kazakhstan, but I can't stop myself from commenting on the Eurovision song contest finals in Sweden.

Living abroad, I got used to the same old image of Russia based on stereotypes.
Russian gangsters, mafia, vodka, bear, matreshka (also called babushka), balalajka, girls in tight cloths, Russian dance just to name a few. All these things were ingredients in the comedy sketch about Russia during the Swedish contest. The sketch called "Tingeling" is a catchy mix of techno music with Russian military chorus and folk songs. The song got even reactions to make "Tingeling"Sweden's entry to the Eurovision contest in Moscow.

To me it's fine to make fun of stereotypes in the ironical way about both Sweden and Russia in this particular song. But I think it went too long making fun of Stalin in the context of satire. Stalin is not about fun. Among not so many real Russian words you can hear: "Na zdorovje, Stalin!", "Na zdorovje, Lenin!", "Do svidanya, Putin!" ("Cheers, Stalin!", "Cheers, Lenin!", "Bye-bye Putin!").

Friday, 13 March 2009

Yoga for moms-to-be

I didn't like yoga at all when I tried it for the first time in 2002. It was too slow, too boring and too cold. Today I'm addicted to yoga.

These are the girls including me from yoga classes for moms-to-be . Since almost all pregnant women in KZ take paid maternity leave 70 days before the delivery date, we have enough time to stay after the classes and talk about pregnancy in hours. Fabulous and pregnant!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Panfilov Park

Located right in the middle of the city Panfilov Park attracts all kind of people and animals. You can also see lots of couples kissing on the benches. My role as paparazzi is useless, I don't dare to disturb their privacy by taking pictures.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Women in politics with many children

How contradictory can be two statements made by the same president in the same speech?

Nursultan Nazarbayev talked about gender equality and role of women in business, politics and public life:

"We need to foster women's business activity...Kazakhstan women should participate in the political and public life of the country. In Kazakhstan over last five years the number of women among Parliament and Maslikhat deputies has not changed. Today they make only 17%. The number of women who hold executive positions in central authorities does not increase. Our country has plenty of leaders among women and they succeed. Employers must encourage women in building up their career."

At the same time he says that women should "take care of well-being of the family"( how would you say "хранительницы очага"?) and have many children.

"Families with many children should constitute the norm of a successful family, just as it was “at all times in all nations”".


Мы должны и дальше расширять возможности женщин активно участвовать в политической и общественной жизни. В то же время в Казахстане за пять последних лет практически не изменилось количество женщин-депутатов в маслихатах и в Парламенте. Сегодня их доля составляет всего около 17%. Не увеличивается численность женщин, занимающих руководящие должности в центральных государственных органах и акиматах. В нашей стране достаточно женщин-лидеров. И они успешно справляются с поставленными перед ними задачами.Руководители должны смелее продвигать женщин по карьерной лестнице, способствовать тому, чтобы женщины реализовали себя как профессионалы.
Считаю, что нормой преуспевающей семьи должна быть многодетность. Так и было испокон веков у всех народов.Богатство человека измерялось наличием детей.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Another restaurant experience

Did you hear about the new restaurant on the moon?
Great food but no atmosphere.

"Alasha", an Uzbek restaurant, has be chosen by the public as the best restaurant in Almaty according to TimeOut Almaty. So we decided to test this place to celebrate R birthday there.

The entrance looked quite impressive reminding of famous palaces in Samarkand or Bukhara. We saw more foreigners than locals inside, the waiters were dressed in traditional Uzbek way, the service was good, live band played at a reasonable sound level so we could here each other.

The entertainment programme introduced different styles of traditional dance as you see on the pictures. The restaurant have a couple of traditional dresses for guests to put on and it's very well used by foreign guests. The only thing we were not satisfied with was the food. If you would like to have a dinner in a nice atmosphere, "Alasha" is a good choice. If you want to enjoy good food, it's better try other places.

What annoyes me most

Spitting on the streets! If you don't watch your step, you might step on one of the loogies.

I know it is not just exclusive to Kazakhstan, but i bet Kazakhstan can win a championship in spitting. It is smth only men do, probably it's their way to mark the territory similar to dogs. Do you have any idea what other reasons can be?

I think spitting is disgusting and rude. It's also dangerous for health in terms of disease transmission. Tuberculosis is still a problem in Kazakhstan and it can be transmitted by spitting.
People, if you don't spit on your health, quit spitting on the ground! You are not camels, aren't you?