Ugh...for some reason the past couple of nights I haven't been sleeping. It's 3:30am right now and I'm wide awake, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to squelch my usual academic blah-dee-blah and update all the little stuff I've been up to....this is sometimes more interesting than doing any actual work, which is probably why I sometimes have trouble actually working....
1. I bought a phatty-phat-phat faux leather bag at the bazaar yesterday, because everyone else has one here and for some reason I turn into a shameless conformist in Almaty (whereas in the States I'm kind of intentionally unfashionable). It cost about $20, and I'm proud to report that I talked the salesgirl down a couple bucks. Hey, it's not the amount that's important - it's the effort that counts!
2. My friend Anna and I went to a really good Korean restaurant a couple days ago. We had a good laugh over some of the English translations, which I know is kind of mean but c'mon - I think one of them was called a "HodgePodge of Food" and another dish involved something called "Pork Hork" and "Frizzled Rice." See, you're laughing too, i knew it.
3. I've discovered that it's a lot easier to just buy two or three yummy fried piroshki (fried pastries filled with veggies or meat) for lunch instead of having to cook or purchase more expensive items from the grocery store. And they cost like 35 cents each, so it's cost effective too -- although probably not figure-effective.
4. The weather was getting really nice and warm for the past couple of days, raising my hopes for an early spring. Today it rained all morning, and when I looked out the window around noon it was snowing! Argh. Back to the Almaty Sidewalk Ice-capades....
5. There's a nice new cafe in town called 4A, run by an American guy and his Kazakh wife. They have the *cutest* little 2-year-old girl (can't remember her name) who's there almost every day I go there. She always smiles at me and runs around, it makes me miss my little niece! The other day she had a little book in her hand and we looked at it together - she kept pointing at the pictures of balloons and saying "sharika, sharika!" Cute-ee.
6. Ace of Base played a show at the Palace of the Republic during my first week here. I forgot to mention that before, but I knew those of us who are nostalgic for the early 90's would appreciate it. Does this mean they're staging a comeback? Or just scraping the bottom of the barrel? Not sure.
7. I just finished reading Gary Shteyngart's Absurdistan. I cannot tell you how trippy it is to read a satire of the post-Soviet world while sitting in the post-Soviet world. It makes the points of his satire simultaneously that much more funny and that much more depressing.
8. I ride the buses every day. I used to rely more on taxis when I lived here two years ago, both because I had more money on hand (or at least thought I did) and because I didn't live near as many bus lines as I do now. But buses are SO much cheaper (30 cents per ride) and it gives me a chance to just kinda mesh with the Almatintsi (aka people who live in Almaty). Today, however, we were all meshing just a bit too close for my total comfort -- it was rush hour, the weather was bad, and I guess everybody wanted to get home at the same time, on the same bus, as me. We were squished in so tight that I couldn't even reach my hand into my pocket to get money for the fare, and they kept squeezing more people in. I must not be claustrophobic because it wasn't that big a deal, but if I were this would have been an absolute nightmare.
9. I've been buying bags and bags of these tasty little mandarin oranges that cost like $4 for a kilo. They're so pretty, with the leaves still attached. Mind you, I'm used to seeing mandarins in a can (usually Geisha brand), so I'm enjoying the fact that I can peel and eat the little seedless goodies fresh (and minus the slurpy syrup found in the canned variety).
10. My crappy dial-up internet only costs 10 tenge (5 cents) per HOUR between 3 and 8am. It costs $1.50/hr. during normal waking hours. So I am taking my sweet time in writing this. :)
OK, back to the battle to knock myself unconscious....