Russian Word of the Day

  • present = padarak

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tid Bits

Day 20

No subject matter today, just tid bits from our day.

1. What's in Becca's i-pod? Having a full ipod is a must on the long drive to and from Schuchinsk each day. I loaded mine up with audiobooks before I left and so far have listened to Vicas Swarup's "Q & A" (a.k.a. Slumdog Millionare), Bernhard Schlink's "The Reader," and the hilarious P.G. Wodehouse's "Code of the Woosters." That is a combined total of over 20 hours of audiobooks. That drive really adds up! Right now I'm listening to "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. It's really good! When I don't feel like "reading," I've found myself drawn to a ridiculous mix of 1970s and 80s pop, including: "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & the Waves, "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" by Paul Simon, and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen, just to name a few. There is something enjoyably, almost hysterically, incongruous about listen to the Pointer Sisters "Jump for my Love" (the song that Hugh Grant dances to in Love, Actually) while driving through the muddy and crumbling outskirts of Kokshetau.
2. After over two weeks in Kazakhstan, today we found an American style grocery store. Now, don't get me wrong... I'm not the kind of traveler who is spending this precious time in Kazakhstan wishing that I was back in America. There is a definate charm to the scavenger-hunt shopping of the Viola Market, where you ask Ula for some tea (chai), pay, and then ask Zena for some cherry juice (vshe sok) and bottled water (bottelka vadre), pay, then ask the surly bread clerk for 2 loaves (deva klerba, pajaloosta) and pay... but when your vocabulary is as limited as ours is, it is awful nice to be able to walk up to the shelf and pick up what you want!
3. Calvin is a wild man on his little Kazakh bike. Lance Armstrong (or Leonard Armstrong as Makhabbat calls him) is one of the few American athletes anyone knows here because he rides for the Kazakhstani team Astana. Makhabbat is sure that Calvin is going to give him a run for his money! In the three days that he has been riding, Calvin has all but mastered that little bike. He can pedal, steer, and of course ring his bell all at the same time! Cal loves to ring his bell at everyone as he speeds around Kokshetau on his little green machine.

Here is Calvin biking around Kokshetau!

4. The neighbors here are starting to get to know us. Once solemn and watchful, the folks in the building around us are starting to smile at us as we pass. Some even startle us by shouting "Hallo!" and then smiling knowingly as if they are in on our little secret. While I would love to make some friends or at least easy acquaintences while we are here, I find that these greetings put me in an akward predicament. We have been cautioned repeatedly by those "in the know" not to make ourselves too visable as Americans and certainly never to tell anyone that we are here to adopt. But when a pretty young mother, Nadia, from across the street practiced her English on us while letting her one year old Ana admire Calvin's bike, these warnings burdened me so heavily that I wanted to escape back to the cottage as quickly as possible. At the same time it seemed so silly, I can tell that she's really nice.

From the belly dance instructor, a lean blond ex-gymnast with a pert little nose and inch-long maroon nails, to the sweet clerks at the Viola market, to the little boys playing cars with Calvin outside... everyone has been really nice. It feels both false and unnecessary to be so guarded. Mom, especially, has a tough time keeping a low profile. I may have mentioned before that all of Kazakhstan seems to have fallen deeply in love with my mother. Well, the feeling is recipricated by Mom who navigates the Kokshetau streets with a beaming California smile waving at small children and lobing friendly "preevets" at curious onlookers. I'm inclined to join her and, using my best judgement, cautiously enjoy my neighbors while I'm here!Here is a picture of Calvin being handfed sunflower seeds by his favorite clerk Ula at the Viola market. She smothers him with kisses when they meet. Here is the family next door. The eldest daughter speaks a little english and the son, Ali, is Calvin's fast friend. When we asked them to take this picture, Calvin ran up and held Ali's hand.

Here is a picture of Calvin playing with the neighbors. The boys have switched cars and the girls are happily giggling at the Americans.

5. For those of you who are interested, I uploaded the pictures of Sasha and Kerial from my posting four days ago. Check out the blog posting called "Garrett's Playtime and the Big Kid Lunch" and scroll to the bottom for pictures of these highly adoptable cutie pies in their frilly aprons helping with lunch.

6. Our baby is absolutely adorable and practically perfect in every way. He was all smiles when we arrived today. We have so much fun together. I wish I could take him home right now!!! We are so ready for our court date!

7. We left Garrett in his orphanage clothes today so that you would be able to see what he is dressed in before we pick him up. The babies here don't get diaper rash because they don't wear diapers. They just have these cotton overall leggings on all the time.




Caro K said...

Gracious--what pictures! I love the neighborhood play scene, and Calvin being hand-fed sunflower seeds like a little squirrel! And the delight on Garrett's face is so amazing--you can just see him opening up to you.

Sending so much love and thanks,

Nicole Faraclas said...

Oh my, what an account. Becca, honestly, your blog makes me feel closer to you and your family than ever before. Is it odd that I feel like I know you better? You're a beautiful writer and this journey you are on is such an incredible one. I understand so much better through your words. And the details like what's on your iPod, American pop tunes in a foreign land, put it all in perspective. Little Cal, riding a bike in Kazakhstan?! Your mom turning into the talk of the town. The neighbors getting to know and adore you all. Not to mention a most beautiful new baby! Wow. You are all such inspirations. So much love to yo all.

Anonymous said...

What a great day at the baby/kid house. Looks like so much fun! Personally, I think you should just bring Sasha home too, a "twin brother" for Calvin and fellow Kazahkstani from his earliest days for Garrett. Let me know how I can help :-)

ps: It was really cool to see the pic of the kitchen and how inspiring to see your generous donation at work. Becca, are there any particular types of toys that we can buy and send over with you to also donate for all the kiddos during your final trip to bring Garrett home!?

Love ya,