Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Constitution Day

Monday, 30 August 2010

Today was Constitution Day, and thus no school. I had heard that there was to be a parade, and so a coworker and I decided to go with my Kazakh friend R. and her daughter. It would be near the Pyramid, and so I thought that trying to get there by car would be best.

The parade was to start at 11:00 am, we left a little after 10 am. And never made it.

The road was blocked due the parade, and we couldn't even cross the river to get close to the pyramid. We drove around for quite some time before finally parking the car by Beyterek Tower (nowhere near the Pyramid) in order to walk to the parade. The weather was in the mid 30's (90s Celsius) and the sun was VERY bright. Astana is mostly a cloudless place.

We made it onto one of the huge bridges that cross the river, and there, under the gleaming of the bright sun, we watched the jet show. Jet planes flew in formation, maneuvering and circling as they flew quite fast. They set off fireworks or something like that as their grand finale. Rather impressive.

We continued to walk across the bridge, towards the bank with the Pyramid; although, as other people kept walking back across the bridge, we began to wonder if we were too late. Finally, after asking a few people, we learned that the parade was indeed over.

At this point, however, everyone who had been to the parade seemed to be crossing the bridge, and so we decided to sit in a bit of shade and wait for the crowd to pass. The girls were hot and tired, and this was a very good idea. When we finally started walking again, it was still crowded, and R.'s daughter soon became lost in the crowd.

My coworker and Sophia ran ahead to look for her, R. ran backwards, and I stayed in the middle. After several minutes of nervousness, I saw my coworker, Sophia, and R.'s daughter. I ran back to tell R., while calling her on her phone. She passed by me in a police car. She had realized that it would be rather futile to search the entire crowd alone, and so had enlisted the help of a police officer. There were quite a few around, dealing with the crowds.

It is nice to know that, as intimidating as foreign cops can be, that they are there to help.

When we got off the bridge, we took another break in the shade, near the Ministry buildings. Then, walking back to Beyterek and the car, we passed by Arman, the restaurant that caters the food to our school. The principal had taken the new teachers there on the day that I had had off (to sleep off jet lag), and my coworker said it was really good. So we went in, and luckily they served pizza as well, so Sophia was able to eat.

R., my coworker & I all ate the first dish that we saw--something like noodles with meat. R. explained how they make the noodles, they really aren't noodles, they're made differently, from dough, and are really good.

After that, R. drove us home. I had been planning on going into the school to do some work, but the hot sun and walking had gotten to me. I was exhausted.

But it was a wonderful day, even though we didn't get to see the parade. Spending time with friends and seeing just how beautiful Astana can be in the summertime.

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