Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life-Part 1

I love Sundays because I do absolutely nothing or basically whatever I want. No ESL, no students, no TOEFL–utter peace to roam the city, do art, cook, etc. As tradition has it here in Astana, every Saturday night I get together with my friends Walton, Asel (his wife), Chris and Irina (his wife). We found each other through our blogs back in October and have been meeting practically every Saturday night since (I think we’ve missed two since 28 October). Either we go out to a restaurant or to each other’s house to eat, drink and be merry. Now Saturday night without Walton, Asel, Chris and Irina isn’t a Saturday night.

Last night we went out to "Samovar" the Russian restaurant last noted in my blog as the place where my colleague asked loudly what "YEB TVOYU MAT" means. We went to the other "Samovar" on the Left Bank by the enormous KazMunaiGas building–a monolithic structure that looks like something out of the last Star Wars film. Chris is off to England next weekend for the holidays and counting the hours, yesterday it was 206, don’t know what it is today, so this was our Christmas dinner together before we part ways for the holiday. After a whole afternoon of teaching, I was starving and ready to gorge myself with delicious Russian food and have a few shots of vodka. Herring, mushrooms, salo (pork fat–don’t tell Dr. Vail), salads, delicious entrees, chocolate bliny, fresh delicious black bread. Put that together with a few bottles of vodka and you got a pretty good party. The shot glasses clinked like bells pealing "Merry Christmas" and toast after toast we realized how special our Saturday nights have become.
A few weeks, Walton and Asel hosted the Thanksgiving party with chickens and manty (homemade meat dumplings), Chris and Irina have hosted a party so when we all get back, it is my turn to have everyone over. I may have to borrow furniture from the neighbors but I’ll put on a good dinner party.

After our feast at "Samovar" we took a stroll along the grand promenade toward Baiterek, the giant tower with the gold ball on top, the Eiffel Tower of Astana. After 2 bottles of vodka, it was warm enough to walk around the freezing streets of the new part of town. Irina was looking so fucking fabulous in her new red fur hat. I love it and want one just like it. A big puff of red fur like an enormous pom pom, it makes quite a statement here in Astana. She let me try it on last night but it just made me look like Martha Raye in "The Bugaloos".
Irina is fabulous. So much fun and a good sense of humor to boot. So refreshing for regimented, uber-serious Astana. We were feeling good enough to flop around in the snow making snow angels. I don’t know how they turned out but we had fun waving our arms and legs back and forth to leave our mark in the snow.

Afterwards we made a trek to Walton and Asel’s for some tea to warm up before we headed home around 2:30 am.
Walton and Asel got a fake tree (I guess fresh trees are banned because people have been cutting down trees in parks and selling them) which was sparsely decorated. I may make them some ornaments today in my free time. Asel recently went to South Korea for a business trip and brought back "It’s a Wonderful Life". AAAHAHAHAHAH!!! I want to watch it so bad. That’s like a must for me during the holidays. They haven’t watched it yet so I resisted from asking to borrow it. Anyway, I’ll be doing my "It’s a Wonderful Life" bit in Brooklyn when I meet up with some NY friends and neighbors on the 21st at BBQ in the hood, so I can wait to see it later. Walton also had downloaded some Xmas tunes from Itunes so we had some apropos music as we sipped our tea late into the night. Aaaah the holidays, simple celebrations like these make them so special.
I love being here at Christmas time for many reasons. The cold and snow of course but mainly because you have the city decked out for the holidays and no crazy commercialism that wears me out in America. People aren’t frantically running around buying useless crap for each other or waiting in line for the latest gizmo for their spoiled brat kids. Closer to the 31st, things will get crazy but mostly at the food and liquor stores as people stock up for New Year’s Eve dinners. Gift giving is not a huge overwrought process here and it is so refreshing. For me, all I want for Christmas is to snuggle with my cats, see Pete and Jackie and my other NYC friends and have a nice meal with my family in California. I don’t need anything else (oh well maybe some flippers for swimming and another pair of long underwear).
OK, I promised Irina, my fabulous Astana friend, I would post this before 12:00 because she’s going to read it at 12:01 so I better move my ass. Dial up takes a little time. Ho Ho Ho!

1 comment:

Irina said...

Hi! You kept your promise! I think we can forgive you a few minutes delay :-) I had a great time yesturday! Thank you for keeping me a company in babochki-making.