Sunday, October 10, 2010
Brazilian Singer & Super-Friendly Kazakhs
Friday Night, September 2010
The librarian at our school had informed us of a Brazilian singer coming to sing at the Pyramid--a free concert of Brazilian music! Sounds like fun! Once I learned for sure that it was at the Pyramid--not far from my former school--I was sure I could get there, although I knew it would take a while. Via bus and foot, my former school is roughly an hour away. Via car, it's much, much closer.
Another teacher, L., and I met up to take Bus 35 from in front of Mega (the mall). The accountant at our school (a local) had given us bus directions, which matched what I probably would have figured out on my own, but it's nice to have extra assurance that you're doing it correctly.
Bus 35 takes a long, ambling route through the new downtown, which is not nice if you want to get somewhere in a short amount of time, but it is nice if the sun is out and you want to enjoy the sights. So we decided to enjoy the sights of the amazing architecture of downtown Astana.
We got off in front of the Ministry buildings and waited for Bus 41. (Or was it 40? Now I forget which one it was.) We took this one until we saw the Pyramid, then we got off. We then noticed that the bus turned right and stopped directly in front of the Pyramid, whereas we now had a short walk to the Pyramid. Oh, well. Living in a foreign country you learn to smile and make most of mini road-bumps.
We were barely on time for the concert, and inside the Pyramid we noticed that many people were rather dressed up. We were wearing jeans.
On the basement level of the Pyramid is a theater, this is where we went. It was getting rather crowded, but eventually we found 3 seats in a row. We noticed that we were near Mr & Mrs L, two other teachers from our school. I noticed one of my favorite students from last year sitting a few rows in front of us.
The concert was a Brazilian singer, a middle-aged woman with an amazing voice, singing, well, songs that are fit for Lite Radio, songs somewhat reminiscent of Frances Cabrel and other calm, romantic French music. Her voice was amazing, strong and passionate, but the music was not the sexy Latin music we had been expecting. Sophia, especially, quickly became bored.
She first sang the Brazilian national anthem, and then she had the musicians play the Kazakh national anthem. She didn't know the words, but beckoned for every in the audience to sing. This was funny--because, nobody in the audience seemed to know the words! Sophia & I knew just as much as everyone else! Last year, everyone in our school had sung it at the assemblies on Monday and Friday mornings. So it was quite funny to realize how few people actually know the anthem.
Between songs, she spoke in Portuguese, and waited for a reluctant translator to translate into Russian. The translator seemed to be rather unsure of his translating abilities.
After a while, Sophia was antsy and so we decided to leave. However, the usher guarding the door wouldn't let us out! Several other people tried to leave, too, and she wouldn't let them out either, so we ended up sitting on the stairs and milling around the exit door, getting rather frustrated. Finally, someone discovered that if we climbed over some chairs, we could get out another door. So a large amount of people left that way. Not sure why we couldn't go out the door closest to us?
We milled around the lobby for a while. I saw my former student, he ran up to me and said, "Hello, Miss Elizabeth!" and then when I said something to him, he mumbled in Russian that he had forgotten all his English. Oh well.
We met up with the two other teachers who were there, and decided to figure out a bus home. If the buses in front of the Pyramid do a U-turn at the end of the road, as they did last year, then I felt confident that I could get us back. If they did not, and continued on in that direction, well, then, I wouldn't be so sure...
In the end we took Bus 40, which did U-turn, but did not turn back towards the new downtown and the Ministry Buildings, where we expected to get Bus 35. However, pretty quickly, everyone on the crowded bus figured out that we were foreigners trying to find our way to Mega (everyone knows that mall). Soon everyone was offering advice and ideas, in limited English and with tons of gestures. The decided-upon advice was the same idea I had come up with: Get off at Momyshuly Street and catch Bus 35 from there.
Several passengers and the attendant made sure that we got off at this stop, and that we knew exactly where to go to get to Bus 35's stop. We thanked them profusely, and got off--pretty close to where I used to live.
As we were walked towards the next bus stop (just across the street, really), a young man who had been on the bus with us came up to us. He spoke English better than most Kazakhs (not very well, but good enough for communicating without using gestures) and was eager to help us find our bus stop.
He was taking Bus 35, also, and so he walked with us to the stop, and rode the bus with us, eagerly talking to us during the whole trip.
Finally, we reached our stop, said good-bye to the friendly man, and returned home!
Quite pleased with the hospitality and kindness of Kazakhs towards strangers.