I just wanted to say a quick hello since it has been a while, and as cold as the 4-hour bus ride was here (Pavlodar) from Bayanaul I think it will be the last hello for at least a little while.
Our students insisted on having a haunted house since they had heard so much about them in American movies, so Jack and I had a lot of fun helping them put one together. Thanks to some great ideas from the kids, some very needed and very appreciated decorations from my mom, and one lonely rainbow colored plastic spider we found in town, we pulled off a pretty good house complete with labyrinth, graveyard with mummy, scary witches, and of course the American stand-bys, bowls of brains and eyeballs to feel. We had a lot of fun and actually made about $30 which the kids want to use to buy Christmas presents for each other (also a new thing to them since most of them are Muslim).
Well, we've now been here long enough for you to all know something about Kazakhstan. Time to test your "Kaz-aptitude" with this informative and entertaining quiz.
1. Double dipping (scientifically defined as going to a communal dish again with some food/utensil that has already been in your mouth) is:
a. strongly encouraged to save silverware
c. just as hygienic as you think it is
d. all of the above
2. Our thermostat is:
b. the lady who lives next door
3. As it is getting colder, the odor of the outhouse
a. is decreasing
b. is apparently a universal constant
c. is nothing next to the breeze
4. As we all know from Saturday night live, horsies are pretty. Horsies are also
5. "Prty" involves
a. you must give a toast
b. you must sing a song
c. you must drink a lot
d. sheep's head!
6. Lanes (as in demarcations on the roadway directing traffic flow) are:
a. as marked
b. purely discretionary
c. as marked with slight leeway
d. just like in the USA.
1. d. Our first family actually laughed at us for declining to take "seconds" when we had already used our spoon or fork. Now we just dive in with everybody else.
2. b. Our furnace is coal, which is very safe and reliable. The gas line can't rupture and it won't start an electrical fire. Actually it is a stand-alone unit, so the odds of us starting any fire is astronomical. The "thermostat" is in buckets of coal, carefully watched over by our Babushka. One bucket makes the house about 16 million degrees. This is good since -40 degrees + 16,000,000 is still very toasty.
3. b. I can't figure it out. There's snow on the ground and it still smells just like it always did. And there goes one possible advantage to winter.....
4. I actually really like horse. Don't knock it until you've tried it. Apparently it's served a lot in winter because it's easier to get. Hmmmm......
5. All of the above. If a party is for a person (like a birthday party) you must give a toast. If you don't it is basically like saying there's nothing good about that person (in front of all their friends)! Toasts can be long and complicated, and usually involve (at a big event) a game, or song, or something creative. Amy usually can't get away without singing now. At her school principal's birthday party there were 50+ guests, all of whom game a toast. We were there for 6+ hours, 3+ of which were toasting (which is over dinner). The oldest/most important person goes first, then next oldest, and so on. it is surprisingly organized.
6. b. Lanes, speed, and so forth are all at the discretion of the driver, and I can tell you, not all of them agree. Sometimes there is a lane for goats. The goats are the most amusing animal in town, mostly they hang around the market waiting for the old lady to go away so they can sneak in and eat something. Literally anything: apples, fish, bottles, bicycles, you name it. The other day they tried to get into the post office, but they were closed for lunch. The average business here is closed for lunch from 12-2, often longer.