A Typical Day in Kostanai

October 18, 2008 at 4:25 am 5 comments

Friday, October 17, 2008: Day 44 in Kostanai
Today was just your typical day in Kostanai. Well, it was my typical day. Hope this isn’t too boring, but if you’re coming to Kostanai this could be one of your days, too.

After getting up, I lit the stove, heated water for my instant coffee, and caught up on emails and various web pages. I picked up the apartment and started a load of laundry. (It usually takes about three hours for one load to wash and then I have to set the spin cycle once the wash cycle has completed.) With about an hour and a half before being picked up for our daily baby house visitation, I decided to run some errands.

K is growing quickly and needed a couple new koftahs, cotton long sleeve shirts with snaps down the front. He’s already grown out of two I recently purchased. There is a great children’s clothing store right around the corner from our apartment where these cute little articles of clothing come in bright solids and stripes and are only $400 tenge (just under $4.00) each.

There are days when I do well with my Russian but today was not one of my best. I seem to keep mixing up the two phrases “I want…” and “I have…” saying the former way too often when I mean to say the latter. After letting the woman at the counter know the color and sizes I wanted, she offered to show me additional articles. At this point I thought I was saying, “I already have these,” when instead I was telling her that I wanted more. She then sent someone to the back of the store to bring out multiple colors and styles in the size that I wanted. By the time I figured out what they were doing, it was too late and all downhill from there. I finally just said, “No thank you,” and “Yes,” grabbing the three articles of clothing I wanted. They were fine with my ignorance and tried asking me questions that I could not answer. I have a feeling they were asking me if I was adopting a child. It is only a guess…but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.

Being totally flustered by this point, the woman showed me the calculator telling how much I owed and I responded by giving her two $2000 tenge notes. When she said, “Nyet,” I was completely confused until the other woman showed me how much change I would get from one $2000 tenge note. I pointed to my head and said, “Duh,” and then realized it sounded like I was saying yes. Thankfully, these women are very nice to idiots like myself.

Errand number two was to exchange some US money for tenge. It is good to do it before the weekend because the exchange rates go down on Saturday and Sunday. I walked around our block to find the best rate for the day. (Rates of exchange are posted on signs outside each business.) Money can be exchanged at banks but most of the time we go to establishments that exist to buy and sell cash, which are numerous. (I really don’t know how all of these places can stay in business.) The best rates were at the little exchange spot by our apartment. Doug and I go here often and have become friendly with the plain-clothes guard at the door who spends much of his day, I think, watching his portable DVD player.

After a warm hello from him, I entered the little room where exchanges are done. These little rooms are slightly intimidating; like your exchanging illegal goods or something. The woman behind the glass partition greeted me with a big, “Zdrastvuteur,” this morning and went on to tell me in part English and Russian that she had seen Doug and I taking pictures by the University. (Probably our poses with President Nazarbayev.) I replied, in Russian, how beautiful I thought Kostanai was in which she responded, “Noisy!” in very good English. “Choot, choot”, I said indicating, “just a little” with my index finger and thumb. After counting my cash ($19,880 tenge for $100 U.S.), I wished her a nice day (oo dachey) and was on my way to errand number three.

I have to say that one of the things I really like about being here for a longer period of time is that we’ve come to recognize and kind of know different people in the neighborhood and many now recognize and accept us. We see our neighbors out and about and always say hello. We’ve run into other people we’ve met here in various parts of the city. Faces are familiar and it feels comfortable.

Which brings me back to errand number three. Chili is on the menu for our next Scrabble game and I needed to buy some tomatoes so I was off to the Green Market for my last stop of the morning. I’ve purchased cukes and tomatoes from the same vendor a couple times and decided to go back to her again. Recognizing me, she asked if I wanted cucumbers to go with my pomadories of which I declined. (Again…love that familiarity.) I then headed over to the bakery section and bought four scone-like items that taste similar to shortbread but not as sweet. (This could be a new addiction, as they taste great alone and even better in ice cream.) I looked for some ground beef but didn’t see any and got out of the meat section as soon as possible. There is just too much exposed raw meat in one area…the smell just gets to me.

I returned home just in time to put the washer on spin before being picked up to go to the baby home. The kids seemed fussy today but K was excited, as usual, upon our arrival. We haven’t seen him on the potty since that first sighting. I’m hoping he’s still in training.

Today was another first! We were in the hallway talking with our adoption coordinator and she wanted to hold our little guy. After about two seconds of letting her hold him, K looked at her, puckered up as if to cry, turned to me and held out his arms. He wanted to come to ma-ma instead of being held by someone he didn’t know well. “A good sign,” stated our coordinator and I have to agree. He’s seen by so many different caregivers and people that we didn’t think that it would matter who held him; that he would be happy with anyone. We were wrong and am I glad!

Our visit was fun as he continues to be amused by clapping hands and seems to be more inclined to snuggle and lie his little head on my shoulder than before. As always, our playtime went by very quickly and it was time to head home.

Natascha joined us for a late lunch around 3 p.m. as we tried out another restaurant (the yellow building across from the crepes place) with an English menu. The food was good and reasonable but once again my Russian failed me. I ordered water without bubbles (biz gaza) and was brought tap water. It is better to get bottled water and I’m sure the waitress asked me if tap water was O.K. and I’m sure I said, “Yes,” but I actually wanted bottled. I WAS a little distracted during the whole ordering process, though. Another adopting couple from the Philadelphia area was sitting at the table beside us and we were all caught up in conversation, so it was hard to focus on ordering food and drink. The mistake was easily corrected by miming the opening of a bottle. The waitress was very nice, as is everyone here.

Lunch was followed by a walk to the “Underground GROS” (grocery store), as we call it, to buy bread and juice. I like to get my bread there. It seems to be very fresh and cheap. The bread we usually buy is a round, flat Kazakh bread about the size of a paper plate for about 40 tenge each (35 cents). Another type is a small dark rye loaf (30 tenge) that is great with cheese. I was looking for this flat, gyro bread to bake into tortillas to go with the chili but they were out. That means another walk to store tomorrow and more exercise, which is fine with me. As far as juice goes, there are quite a variety of flavors. Apricot is one of our favorites but I found banana today and am looking forward to its sampling.

The KazPost was the next destination where I purchased two $1000 tenge Internet cards. These will last about two weeks if our dial up connection is used mostly during the cheap hours, 11p.m. to 8 a.m. Doug tends to use the later hours where I manage to be up before 8 a.m. and get the inexpensive time during the morning. Another good strategy (thank you Doug) to save time on Internet cards is to download or copy your emails and compose your answers off-line. This has also helped us to maintain our cards for longer periods.

After walking home, putting away groceries, hanging up laundry in the living room (sheets, mind you), washing baby toys, and watching Scooby Doo in Russian, a nap was in order. Dinner of leftover carrot soup and ice cream followed with chili making until around 9 p.m. The remainder of the evening was spent writing this Blog entry, which I am finishing up at about 11 p.m.

This concludes a typical day in Kostanai. It is amazing how quickly each day goes by while you are here and it is even more amazing how each day is filled by the little events that have become commonplace in our Kostanai stay. Not a day goes by when there is something new to do, another site to see, or people to meet. We’ve been blessed to have this time to get to know our child and to spend with each other. Our time here has been truly special.

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Entry filed under: Kazakhstan Adoption. Tags: .

Potty Talk When it Rains, it Pours

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mcmary  |  October 19, 2008 at 4:21 am

    To me it didn’t sound boring at all. It sounded like a full day and it sounds like you are really getting to know your area. Despite the difficulties with your Russian today–I am impressed. I imagine you will miss it when you return home.
    Good to hear that K is bonding and knows her Mommy already.

    Reply
  • 2. Susan  |  October 19, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    you went to Nick Nacks….that palce is good. we went there several times. I like the “sizzling chicken with mushrooms” and their desserts are good too.

    I loved Kostanai and i miss it.
    Almaty is wonderful-big city, lots to do, and Joe likes it better.
    However, NYC is his fav place and he did not spend 10 weeks in Kostanai like i did.
    My daughter was born there, I was treated like family, and I met you guys…what is not to like?

    Leeza was the same way with the caregivers are your son-would not go to anyone but momma. She would smile and give high 5’s, but only come to mom. 🙂
    It does warm your heart. 🙂

    glad all is well in Kostanai. miss you guys!!

    I know you cherish your time there, just like I did.
    🙂

    xoxoxoo

    Reply
  • 3. Carol Nylen  |  October 20, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Kelly, I hadn’t read your blog in a week, and so much has happened there.

    I can’t believe Susan left–I feel like I know her through her comments, and now she’s gone! (But not from your blog–just from Kostenai)

    The potty training is too much! I was amazed to read that the babies don’t wear diapers. I think they’re on to something!

    The entry about the stray animals just about killed me. I wanted to take those dogs and cats in your pictures; they were so cute, and I know those were just a few of the many that roam the streets.

    The trauma of the room change–from baby to toddler– came through loud and clear.

    A lot happens in a week!

    It sounds like you are truly enjoying your time there and not taking anything for granted. What a life-changing experience, in so many ways.

    Reply
  • 4. Tricia  |  October 20, 2008 at 4:16 am

    You sound like you are doing really well. What a great sign from K reaching out for his mama. It makes all of your time there worth it!

    Reply
  • 5. Susan  |  October 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Hola amigo…we leave in less than 10 hours…our embassy appt is over and done with (took 5 minutes, no big deal!)

    the Tsum store is overwhelming. they did have some things that I had not seen in Kostanai, namely thise cool purses. I got leeza lil ones like the big ones i got here…..

    i would have spent MCH longer there than the hour and a half or so we spent there, cuz there was SO MUCH TO SEE, but we did spend 17,000 tenge. I would have gone back and looked more, but alas, I had Joe . ha ha

    plus, Leeza was in the ergo at that point for 4 plus hours….so she was done too.

    enjot the rest of your time in kostanai and have fun in almaty.

    loved meeting you and we will keep in touch…

    xoxooxox
    Susan, Leeza, Joe and Seanie too

    Reply

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