I wouldn’t want you to get the impression that my stay in Kazakhstan was uniformly miserable. I found dealing with the problems resulting from cooping up 60 men in a closed, cold space for almost a week in a place far, far away from any source of entertainment rather, well, entertaining. After all, you never know what problem you will be presented with (and expected to solve) next, from missing visa stamps to the restaurant flooding an hour before our gala dinner to Turkmenistan(i) marital woes.
Never mind the fact that we had an aquapark (sans aqua, as mentioned before), various varieties of poultry and wild boars on the grounds (nothing like spicing up your evening run with a hog chasing you), and even an evening discotheque (from 20 to 22.30 every Tuesday and Thursday).
The disoctheque was a rather macabre affair. Contemporary Kazakh/Russian/I don’t really know what country music was blasted from speaker in the giant entrance hall in an effort to spark life into a rather sad and cold institution. The average age of people rocking out was about 60 (it was skewed towards the younger side by the 20-year old DJ). On the first evening I made the mistake of walking through the hall to reach my elevator after supper and soon found myself sprinting to the dark end in a effort to escape the amorous embraces of Kazakh golden-agers who were bowing forwards and backwards in their attempts to follow the rhythm of the techno music. I have a very learned and reserved friend who refers to dancing as “making your body move in vertical motion” and I have to say the description was rather apt in this context.
On the next evening, I stuck to the giant chess.
And one very special afternoon, we got out early and went to the mountains! More about that tomorrow (too many exciting things happening in this post already).