Saturday, January 27, 2007

Taxi drama and Gena's story PT 1

Pitch black outside at 6:52 a.m., snow, wind , freezing cold outside. Another deep winter January day beginning. I’m feeling sluggish the last few days, would rather sleep all day like a bear in hibernation than get up and go swimming and teach English. But still I drag my ass out of bed, throw my swim stuff together and jump into my waiting Mercedes and head to the pool. Gena Goose, my driver and I have been having some great conversations lately. He was telling me some story the other day and drove right past Kaspii (my sports complex where I swim). Yesterday he told me in vivid, dramatic detail his wife’s stay in the hospital for a blockage in her intestine. How he yelled like a crazy man at the surgeons, threatening to shoot them if his wife died (now that’s love and motivation for the lazy surgeons). 3 months she was in there, a big hole in her side while the stitches healed, food and other stuff coming out the gaping hole in her side. Seems that they haven’t discovered colostomy bags here so Gena rigged one up to his wife’s side to the amazement of the doctors in the hospital. That’s medicine in Kazakhstan for you.
Gena’s been having a problem with Kairat, another driver out at the cab stand by my house. Kairat is jealous because Gena drives the American everywhere and I don’t give him any business. Kairat is a nice guy but the one time I used him, he charged me an arm and a leg. Gena is reasonable, charges me a fair price and he’s a great conversationalist. I like people here who treat me as just a person and not a “foreigner” who must be gouge for more money. Gena and I laugh, crack jokes, have become friends in a way. He’s very much the simple Russkiy muzhik with a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off his back. Not many of these guys left over here.
Gena Goose lives in Chubary, a neighborhood of private homes in Astana. As monolithic, ugly apartment complexes take over, Chubary is threatened. The president wants to get rid of it but the homeowners fight it in court. Rightfully so, they built those houses and most of them are really nice. Gena lives there with his wife. He has two daughters, both married (I think) one lives here, one in Almaty and an 8 month old granddaughter who he loves to pieces. You can see it in his eyes and smile when he talks about her. He has a picture of her on his cellphone, framed in a floral heart wreath. His granddaughter recently had some mishap, bumping her head on a heating pipe by her bed. There was blood, a hospital visit and her head has been wrapped up in bandages since, but I think they’re coming off soon. I’ll check with Gena this morning.

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