Thursday, February 8, 2007
Oy, oy, oy
That's what Russians say to you if they think your child isn't dressed warmly enough. "Oy, oy, oy" means "shame, shame, shame." A lot of the other Americans here have gotten such lectures; fortunately I have not although one woman berated me for letting Veeka's hat fall over her face. The *good* thing about this culture is that these folks really like kids, so the other night when Madina and I and her son went out to dinner, Veeka was in high spirits, running about the restaurant. One of the couples there - strangers - let her climb on their laps and they played with her. That would never happen in the US of A. The restaurant staff where I eat breakfast every morning is accustomed to Miss Veeka wandering in and out of the kitchen. She is so disarming and everyone likes to pick her up.
The down side is that restaurants here have never heard of high seats so one must balance the child one's lap and aim carefully at the open mouth. I have gotten quite good at this. Today I was walking Veeka about, trying to get her to snooze so I could come here. She would NOT drop off, so we toured a local mall where we found a restaurant that served me some buckwheat groats with beef. Veeka refused the buckwheat after a few mouthfuls. Fortunately I had brought along potato chips which she munched on. This kid is not getting the most balanced diet.
I shopped around the mall, looking to buy a very pretty - but expensive - hat. One thing I've noticed about the store help here; they can be quite unfriendly! The woman in the hat shop spit out the price - 15,000 tenge (more than $100) - and wouldn't come down a bit. It had been less a few weeks before. Anyway, she was rude and obviously didn't want to make a sale so instead I bought Veeka a Kazakh doll at a shop where the clerk was a bit nicer and came down 100 tenge for me. The exchange rate is 125.2 tenge to $1 today. Got some Orthodox icons for gifts, and also because *that* clerk was super friendly and help Veeka as I was trying to decide between St. Andrew and Mary of the Desert and some Russian angel I'd never heard of.
The photos here are of yesterday when I took Veeka for a walk in the park and she was trying to talk to the pigeons. She was on a push/sleigh - a stroller with blades which comes in quite useful in these snow-covered parts. One of the wheels on my stroller is kaput - after 2 weeks - the folks at the hotel said it was cheap Chinese goods and that it was not made for freezing weather. Still, I paid 4100 tenge for it! Mike says he will help me duct-tape the wheel so I can get it through my final week here. We've noticed how badly things are made here. The Chinese goods that flood this country are sloppily made and fall apart easily. There must be some kind of manufacturing hierarchy whereby the good exports get shipped off to the USA and Europe and the junky stuff comes here.
Anyway, it was the loveliest day with everyone outside and yellow-breasted chickadees and white birch trees and pink park benches and bright blue sky. Later we went to the circus, which Veeka LOVED - especially the clown. She would sit in my lap, her hands in the air, swaying back and forth. It's the kind of circus one would have seen in the US maybe 100 years ago - almost vaudeville - with scantily-clad girls, a few animals and acrobats and magic tricks. But the kiddies liked it.
Today (Friday) should be a red letter day for me as supposedly our adoptions are finalized at 6 p.m. Our coordinator is in town but true to form, we've not heard from her. If all goes well, we fly back to Almaty tomorrow.