Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Happy new year!
Didn't get around to your New Year's resolutions in time this year? Well, here's your second chance!!
Tonight is New Year's Eve by the Asian calendar. Although not widely celebrated in Kazakhstan, it's recognized by Kazakhs because they follow the Asian calendar culturally, if not in everyday life. There's a beautiful fountain (my favorite in Almaty) that contains statues representing all twelve of the Asian zodiac signs -- actually, the Kazakh version is a bit different, instead of a dragon there's a snail (!!). Here's a nighttime photo of said fountain -- sorry if it's a little blurry!
Anyway, 2008 is the year of the rat. Even though rats have a negative association with most westerners, rats are actually supposed to be symbols of prosperity. So here's to the rats and all the goodies that they will most definitely bring this year. :)
Someone was shooting fireworks earlier, which I enjoyed unobstructed from my living room window. Of course, it might not have had anything to do with the New Year -- people shoot fireworks at the drop of a hat around here....
Good news on the contacts front-- my good friend Akerke is back in town after a stint in China and Germany. This girl is amazing, always touring around and giving concerts everywhere. And only 21 years old! She was my kobyz teacher during my last stay in Almaty, and she and I are good friends -- aside from her frequent chiding me for not being married at the spinsterly old age of 28!
I got in touch with another kobyz expert as well, Raushan. She did a really nice CD/DVD a few years ago that I've used for several class presentations on Kazakh music. I may start taking lessons with her, if I'm up to her standards (and if Akerke doesn't mind)!
Also had a nice evening chat with my landlady -- she and her two kids live next door, and she's super sweet and very interesting too. I had to pay her for my first month of rent, which was kind of an ordeal because I brought Traveller's Cheques with me and there was the inevitable infuriating bureaucracy in trying to cash them -- I spent about an hour at the bank today while the tellers tried to figure out what the correct procedure was. Amazing, here I was standing in a beautiful new bank lobby (evidence of the general face-lift Almaty is currently undergoing) that reeks of modern sophistication, but the bank's operations are still wallowing in the 20th century -- my transaction was actually completed via a handwritten note from one teller to the other because they didn't have an internet connection. Oh well...
Ok, happy new year everyone!