Saturday, March 30, 2013

Karaganda - Shopping & Doctors

Monday, 25 March

Today we ate breakfast at our favorite restaurant, Charlotka in City Mall. The food took forever to be prepared, but was quite delicious (omelettes and blini—like French crepes). Then my friend took her daughter to the dentist while I dragged Sophia shopping. My friend is from Karaganda, and prefers the doctors here.  Karaganda is also known for having cheaper shopping than Astana.

We hopped on Bus 43 and it was only 3 stops to the big bazaar. Many of the stalls were closed today, because today is part of the Nauriz holiday, but it still was fun wandering the bazaar. I stopped at a shoe place and as Sophia tried on winter boots (for next year), a woman came up to us and said she came because she had heard us speaking English, and she hasn't heard English in a long time. She was quite happy to talk to us. The woman selling the boots was very friendly and also curious as to why we're here, and in the end we bought the boots for 4500 Tenge ($30), which is pretty cheap for winter boots. If they are cheaply made and don't last long, that's fine. Sophia's feet grow so fast! (I bought one size up, hoping they will fit next winter.)

We bought a few more items before heading out of the bazaar and across the street to a huge shopping center. This one is like Artyom in Astana, huge and easy to get lost in, with tiny hallways leading you through a maze with tiny shops separated from each other by glass walls. I found a fashionable autumn coat for 9000 Tenge ($60 - most were much more expensive than that) and we found the Reebok and Adidas outlet store, where I bought a pair of running shoes for myself.

Then, Sophia was tired (she hates shopping) so we headed home. My friend and her daughter arrived a few minutes after us. They had been to the dentist, the eye doctor, and the hair dresser! The dentist had pulled one baby tooth and they had scheduled an appointment for a cavity to be filled the next day.

The eye doctor had said that the girl had vision problems, but could not what. She gave my friend drops with instructions on how to adminster them and told her to return by 6 pm (when the office closed). The drops seemed similar to the kind my eye doctor gives me—they make your pupils larger so the eye doctor can see into your eye. But they were a bit different—my friend was to adminster them, not the doctor, and she had to put two drops in each eye every 10 minutes for 6 times. Then, after a half hour wait, she was to return to the eye doctor.

So we went to eat and then my friend gave her daughter the drops after we ate, while still at the restaurant. That took about an hour, and then we walked to the eye doctor. Since her pupils were large, she couldn't see very well, so she wore sunglasses and closed her eyes as my friend and Sophia helped her along. We must have been such a strange sight, helping this girl along, and also Sophia and I were just in short-sleeved shirts while everyone else was in coats! It was probably about 50º F (10º C) so it was cool but not too cool, and I was tired of getting hot every time I went indoors, so we had left our coats in the hotel.

The eye doctor was located on the second floor of another crowded shopping center, and it looked just like every eye place I've been to the in US, nice and neat with displays of eyeglasses. While waiting, my friend's daughter poked her head behind the door that led to the doctor's room, and she asked if she was ready. I would never do that in the US, but the doctor didn't seem to mind.

They let Sophia go in, but I stayed in the lobby. Within minutes she was finished, with a diagnosis of far-sightedness (she needs reading glasses). But the doctor can't give her a prescription yet. She has to examine her again, when her pupils are back to normal. Again, this is different from when I go in the US, when everything gets done in one visit.

We had planned to return to Astana on Tuesday, but now we have to wait until Wednesday afternoon. I guess I'll have more time for shopping...

In other news, my friend's sister's release date from the hospital was changed from Monday to Tuesday, which is fine, because we were so busy today we wouldn't have been able to visit her.
At the huge shopping center

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