Aktobe to shymkent
Trip Start Oct 15, 2006
27Trip End ??? ??, 2007
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the uzbekis no doubt.
i waited for somebody to wander thru selling water.
somebody didn't come.
i cosidered both the beer and wait, and the smoke and wait games, but due to the previous evening's fervour, i felt up to neither of those. besides, i had no beer.
i passed yernar and his wife's booth. they invited me to join them for brekky and tea.
i accepted eagerly, feeling guilty that i had no food to offer up for the feast.
that i had nothing to offere, didn't bother them in the least.
they both worked for the military, in border control. yernar was a captain of sorts, his wife (i forget her name, goshdarnit) worked in immigration, stamping people in and out of kazakhstan.
i spent the day loping about. talking to different people i'd met on the train, avoiding the cleaner/ maintenance guy who always wanted to talk to me quickly using his entire vocabulary in russian or kazakh, which vastly surpassed my own vocab of , by now, about 10-15 words in each. every time when he realised that i wasn't understanding even the gist of what he was saying, he had this revolting habit of spitting on his already filthy index finger and proceeding to draw all manner of diagram, map, or flow chart on the nearest available surface, usually my seat.
talking to the uzbekis, who were nearly home now after their own behemoth journey.
i promised i'd post them copies of the photos i'd taken of us together.
talking to yernar and his wife.
talking to a bloke who could speak a bit of farsi.
generally just loping .
and avoiding the spitty finger guy.
late afternoon, yernar asked me where i'd stay in shymkent. having been hoping to go couchsurfing, i explianed that i'd be staying with a friend whose number i could get once i reached in internet terminal. yernar determined that i would be staying at his place until i got in touch with my friend. having couchsurfed recently in baku, and stayed overnight at no less than 3 people's home in iran, i knew when to gratiously accept hospitality that is offered in a strange land. so accept i did.
so around 9pm, the train pulled into shymkent. having wished ma salama to my uzbeki friends and promised in various lack of languages that i would post the photos, i disembarked the train i'd ridden for 52 hours, across a timezone and more than halfway across kazakhstan, the ninth biggest country in the world.
we met yernar's brother and his mate and wife in the station and they drove us to yernar's family home, where his mum lived, with his brother and his wife and child, as did yernar with his wife for 3 months a year.
his family were lovely and welcoming, and barely had we arrived and put our baggage down, when yernar's mum had served a whopping plate of manty and bread and other bits and pieces, of which it seemed everyone wanted me to eat more than them by half. needless to say, i rolled away from the table about an hour later, having experienced some wonderful kazakh hospitality, some local cognac, and an education into the kazakh word for sugar.
in iran, there is a seperate word for ground sugar, and for sugar that has been chipped off a great block. one is shuker, the other i forget. in kazakhstan, it seems there are similar circumstances surrounding words for sugar. so over dinner, we chatted as those with language differences do, with warmth and joy, and a great will to understand each other.
i asked the names in kazakh for several different things, one of them being the sugar.
i nearly choked, then burst out laughing when they told me. and then i was quite embarresed when i was obliged to explian, why i was laughing so. you see, the word in kazakh for the sugar about which i was asking is.... possibly THE WORST word in the english language, a word often used in a derogatory manner to describe part of the female anatomy, a word that is four letters long and starts with C and ends in T!!!
anyways my host family found it most amusing when i described the meaning of this word in english and its uses.
bedtime now, and my hints to yernar about a wash gone unheeded or misunderstood, i fell into their comfy couch, feeling very lucky, a welcom stranger, again.
NOTE: TIME WITHOUT SHOWER
Last shower: 9am, Jan 21.
Time now: 1am, Jan 26
Time elapsed since last shower: 4 days, 16 hours.