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Karaganda Scrapbook

December 28, 2013



Well, I still find myself incapable of writing an orderly account of my time here. I will take the lazy way out and just annotate some photos.

DSC08185When I arrived in Kazakhstan, after two months of loafing away my money in Poland, I had about $10. Fortunately, my job gave me a care package of sorts. I had a bit to eat until I could get an advance. This is what I lived on that first weekend.

DSC08203My neighborhood. My building is on the left and my corner shop is on the right.

DSC08205I can read these signs on my street now. You would pronounce those something along the lines of  “Yerubayev” and “Yermyekov.” Unfortunately, they off by 90 degrees.

DSC08207You have to go into that blue and white building and go into some tunnels to cross the street here. 

DSC08427DSC08429I actually like the tunnels. There are little shops down there where you can buy your needfuls real cheap. 

DSC08227I didn’t understand this at first and couldn’t get back into my building except by hanging around until someone went in, then shadowing them. Eventually I learned I had a little electronic thing on my key fob.

DSC08231If you like weird old vehicles, Kazakhstan is an interesting place. This poor guy was crank starting this old bus.

DSC08236Hoisting a hefty tankard with me mate Stokey Pete.

DSC08243Most streets are coal black at night, but you could sit down and read a book outside ome of these government buildings. Not that I would recommend it… you don’t want anything to do with the security guys.

DSC08297I was very excited to get my packages from Poland, the ones I shipped myself from the post office in the rynek in Żory.

DSC08299My stuff! Clothes to wear!

DSC08308This is the can opener I found in my flat.

DSC08310My proud handiwork.

DSC08313Once again, Cowboy Beans to the rescue.

DSC08314Here’s something I know how to open.

DSC08337Bread here is cheap and tasty. This cost about 50 cents.

DSC08344The street where I live.

DSC08380One of my students took me and my friends out for an evening of drink and song. We had a great time. I heard lounge music sung phonetically by non-English speakers. I couldn’t believe how well they did it.

DSC08425A note on my door, telling me, as it turned out, that the gas would be off that day.

DSC08440There is some Soviet style architecture… statues of workers, imposing columns, etc.

DSC08442 DSC08451Now there’s a guy who knows where he’s going.

DSC08480The rynok (market) is a mile or two from my house. I love open air markets.

DSC08526 DSC08564Went with some friends to the museum of the Karlag, the old Soviet prison camp on which this place was founded. This is an effigy of an intake officer.

DSC08587My friends and fellow teachers, outside a pub near where we took Russian lessons.

DSC08594Music in the air… quarter notes, to be precise.

DSC08611View of the street from inside a marshrutka. You can rarely actually see anything outside… you generally have to know where you’re going and count stops.

DSC08613These old Ladas are everywhere. I love that they keep them running. I have ridden in one or two as taxis.

DSC08624One night this gloriously goth coffin appeared in the stairwell outside my flat. It was gone the next morning.

DSC08634The beginning of winter was not good for safe mobility. Until the snow cover got thick, what you had was ice, and lots of it. Some mornings, with the wind gusting, I could actually wind sail across patches of it.

DSC08638After my second paycheck, I bought a guitar at the local music shop. It’s made in China, but it’s not bad. Cost about $180.

DSC08675Outside a restaurant with friends.

So those are a few snapshots. The truth is most of my life here is just work. On weekends, I putter about my flat, cleaning up, decompressing, planning lessons.

Over the winter break, a fellow teacher and I are going to make the 18-hour train journey to Almaty. I will try to keep a real journal of that one. We should see some different stuff.

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