Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Ok, I admit that I am getting a bit behind in my bloggin' - certainly if I'm doing a weekend update on Thursday, that should tell you something right away... Things on the research front have slowed, which is of course a bit worrisome, considering that I only have four more months in Kazakhstan! Of course, it's not as if I haven't been doing stuff. It's just that the nature of ethnography is so unpredictable in terms of pace and the kinds of things one is able to discover in a certain amount of time. Ack, no wonder I've been having trouble sleeping again...
Anyway, last weekend was fun from a social standpoint. Two other American gals and I went to see a double header of one-act ballets, "Othello" and "Carmen." As I was explaining the plots of both plays to one of my companions, it occurred to me that both of these stories end with a jealous man killing the woman he supposedly loves. Apparently good, old-fashioned misogyny (and homicide) makes for highly entertaining theater.... Ok, gender politics aside, it was a good show - both ballets used choreography by "contemporary Latin American ballet masters," although since there were no programs for the show I couldn't tell you much else about these mysterious individuals. I will also point out that shows such as this one point to the continuously strong current of Western "high culture" in Almaty, which has been the case for almost 150 years now (Almaty actually began as a Russian fort named Vernyi, and the town was re-named after the Soviet Union took over in 1917). The photo here is of my friends Jody and Anna (left to right) and me inside the Abai Theater of Opera and Ballet. It's a really pretty hall, and tickets are really cheap. To see this ballet, for example, cost 400 tenge - only about 3 dollars!
Saturday night, I went to another American's place for a dinner of manti, a Central Asian style of dumpling that usually contains meat, pumpkin, and onions. But since our host is vegetarian, so were the manti. Two awesome Kazakh girls from the American Councils office came to help cook - they made steamed and fried varieties (pictured here in the middle of the table), which were both delicious!
I also started tutoring Raushan's two kids (9 and 13) in English. They study it in school, but I'm trying to help them actually speak instead of just getting through their lessons.
This is what I'm also trying to do with a group of students at the Conservatory. We actually had our first group meeting yesterday - about 20 students showed up. The details are going to have to work themselves out over the next few weeks, since there are very different ability levels in this group. But I'm pretty confident that this will be an interesting experience - plus, it helps me because I am getting Conservatory affiliation in return for doing this service!
More soon, I promise!