Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts from Kokshetau

Once your eyes adjust to the retina-numbing whiteness of the steppe, you realize that Kokshetau is a city of colors. The trash cans are parrot green. Iron gating appears in all shades of aqua and lime and yellow. The hundred year old mosque in the center of town is as blue as the Kazakhstani flag. The windows on the white dakas are framed in saphire blue. The little girl walking home from school has a light pink puff on the top of her white knit cap. The woman at the market smiles with the glint of three gold teeth. In the midst of the snow and slush so thick and whitegreybrown that the spattered cars are drained of their tint from waistlevel down, these little shreds of color stand out bold and brave in the whiteness. Like the notes of a song finding their way through the static, you strain to hear more.

The babyhouse caregivers have pasted strips of thin cotton cloth to the seams around all the windows in an attempt to keep the heat in and the cold out. The cloth is a blue floral and was probably crib bedding before it got too worn for that purpose. It is beautiful and resourceful and sad.

The babyhouse smells like stewed cabbage and watery potatoes but it is very bright and clean. All of the babies are fat and dressed in a wild assortment of pink and yellow and blue cotton layers

Being here reminds me a little of being a child. I can't understand a word spoken between the driver and the interpretor, so for the hour-long car trip to and from the babyhouse I listen loosely to the conversation between the two, letting the rythmn of the words wash around me. I'm like a bouy in the ocean. I find myself repeating sounds which have no meaning: diavichka. diavitchka. diavitchkee. I remember doing the same thing on trips with my parents as a small girl. Also, I'm tired so early that I am going to bed at dusk,while most Kazakhstanis are still getting home from work. Now, just as when I was a girl, I love the sensation of sleeping while the world is still in motion.


ault family said...


I just came across your blog and am enjoying the "sites of Kaz" that you've posted. Your little guy is darling. His eyes just sparkle! What a cutie pie! :)

My husband and I are in the process of adopting from Kaz. Our paperwork should be going to the embassy this week (fingers crossed).

I'm really looking forward to following your blog on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous said...

I love looking at your blog everyday! Garrett is a doll. I'm shocked at the bottle. Our little one had to drink out of a china tea cup (filled with hot tea or really stinky kefir) Also, we're enjoying the pics inside the baby room. Our son was in isolation with an ear infection the whole time we were there. Talk about a daddy wanting his son out of institutional care!! Anyway, we never got to see where he lived when he was well. Enjoy! Donna

SS Garrett said...

Hi Becca and family,

Congratulations - your new son is absolutely adorable! He's so happy and smiley - as are all of you!

We were in Kokshetau this time of year last year and came home with our son Max! It's so fun to see the sights of Kokshetau again. I'm following along your journey and enjoying seeing Max's home town. I hope your adoption goes smoothly and you enjoy the interesting time in Kaz!

Kind regards,
Sheila Garrett (PS I like your son's name :-))

Pat and Alli said...

Greetings from PA. I've been following from afar and enjoying your journey. It brings back so many memories of our amazing trip to Kaz. And much need enjoyment as we slog through our dossier paperwork.

Your sons ore beautiful. Best wishes for continued happiness on your amazing adventure.


Caro K said...

I'm never going to have enough photos of my favorite little family, but geezus, you're such a good writer! These reflections about color make me sense the whole feeling-world of Kokshetau and the babyhouse. Thank you for your seeing and your bravery, and for sharing.

with Love,

Sam,Gabby and Ryan said...

It's amazing that you guys are literally on the other side of the world and that things there are so different,yet the same. I love to see how different the culture is there from the U.S., but fundamental things are the same. Thanks for all the interesting photos, it is amazing how brightly colored everything is and how beautiful it looks there.
Take care, give Garrett & Calvin a hug from us.
Sam, Gabby & Ryan

Gabby said...

PS-I showed Garrett to Gabby who says hi "batta" and "baby" and to Calvin "ta". She likes looking at "the baby" a lot!

Anonymous said...

I'm responding to your threat. Please don't stop the photos, and the narrative are terrific.

Jeannine said...

Hi Tim & Becca,
Garrett is absolutely adorable. What a little love and a welcome addition to our family! Becca your blog is amazing and Leah and I look forward to your daily update. It’s going to be such a wonderful gift for Garrett to look back on someday. We love you so much and are grateful that you are sharing your incredible experience.

Jeannine and Leah