May 25-June 9
I am now into my final month of living in Kazakhstan, and now trying to think of anything Kazakh and crazy that I haven’t yet experienced. Two things that possibly would not be on a list such as this would be participating in a flash mob and eating in a restaurant that is situated next to a plane. Both, however, have now been sampled, and my life is better for it.
I’m sure you are aware that a flash mob is a mass participation dance that is ‘unannounced’ to those watching it. Though it may seem unscheduled to the unknowing eye, it takes much preparation and planning. We were invited to take part by our friend Ala, who was organising the flash mob as part of Africa Week in Astana.
After spending a bit of time learning the dance, and teaching it to our school children, the big day arrived. It was a big venue – the Khan Shatyr, Astana’s most spectacular shopping mall. Surrounded by a large number of children from school, we nervously waited in the crowd for our moment whilst other drummers and acts were performing. This included a strange local breakdancing troupe who looked a bit out of place in an African event.
Soon enough, Shakira’s song started to play over the deafening speaker system, and we seized our opportunity. The video is below.
It was an uplifting and wonderful experience to have so many people dancing in as much harmony as is possible in such a small space. Everyone was happy, which ultimately dancing should be about.
The origin of the other new, bizarre experience is in the depths of our first winter in Astana. During that particularly harsh November, I was part of a scavenging team in a competition organised by the U.S. Embassy. One of our tasks was to locate a place in Astana where a boat was sat next to a plane on a pond. We duly found it, and discovered that this was actually a restaurant…when it wasn’t covered with snow. We thus made a pledge to return one day.
It has taken a while, but we finally accomplished this mission on a recent Wednesday. It is quite a surreal place to wine and dine. In typical Kazakh fashion, they only stocked one of the numerous beers on the menu – the most expensive one. Nonetheless, it was a lovely evening.
Love you all