On Saturday we are having a few friends over to our flat for a birthday celebration. Here in Kazakhstan, people tend not to celebrate such events prior to the actual date, and as on the 20th itself I’m going to be checking out the American Bar & Grill restaurant (located where TGI Friday was on Respublika Avenue (they are apparently both owned by the same parent company/franchise co-ordinator)) with Irina, Tim, Anna and Ira’s parents, the 21st was the next closest date when people would likely be free.
Friends who have visited on such occasions before can probably guess what will be served when we all sit down to eat – various deep fried meat products, chips (there is a real shortage of other potato based deep fried garnishes in local supermarkets right now) and baked beans. Irina was concerned that on a person’s birthday celebration, they shouldn’t be doing the cooking, but we reached an agreement where things I don’t normally cook or enjoy would be handled by her, like salad or cups of tea, where as alcohol, unhealthy but tasty food and audio/video entertainment would be sorted by me. This way, I am happy to be cooking things that I see as a treat, Irina is happy that guests won’t be floating on a sea of sunflower oil all night, and we will both be happy that the compromise reached is one agreeable to all involved.
I have scoured local shops for the required ingredients to make a good few litres of Long Island Iced Tea (just need to add the lemon juice and coke (many thanks to Justin, for the heads up on a possible location for an orange liqueur)), stockpiled various chicken-themed main courses, discovered that chips are, for some reason, the only potato-based garnish that are currently stocked locally & ensured the music and video collection are up to scratch. The friends coming are a mix of ex-pats and locals, people younger than me, and a little bit older, so I’ll try and cook up a playlist that mixes up the genres enough to be to everyone’s agreement. I suspect a little Happy Hardcore & Scouse House will still slip through though. If people don’t think it is enough of a compromise, I’ll play the birthday boy card 😉
Realized this morning that Tim has been absent from the blog recently. Freshly nappied, here Anna checks he is OK – http://t.co/3Bw9Yo1v
So, the plane tickets have been purchased. We will be leaving Britain in four weeks, and moving back to Astana. Our friend and her daughter have been looking after our flat (and more importantly, our cats!) whilst we are in Britain, so I’m assuming we will be living at Ira’s parents’ place for a while. Beyond the obvious logistics of the journey itself, we also need to think about all the little changes that will be required with Tim now adding to our Kazakh life! From car seats that will fit in the back of our car (no more passengers in the back for a while!), to budgeting our savings until Irina goes back to work again, planning for the future just got that little bit more complex 🙂 Well worth it though, obviously.
Other updates involve a law that I believe has just (?) passed over there that means my reporting of events that may occur in the country pretty much have to not deviate from any official press releases if you want to ensure that a) You’re not liable for prosecution (need to check if fines/prison or a combo are the punishments), and b) Any future visa applications are processed smoothly. Also, if any more work opportunities arose that involved the civil service/media department of the President, I’m thinking they’re not likely to employ someone with black marks against their name. Although I doubt I will be scouring the local job listings the minute I get back, I need to ensure I’m able to earn some money over there. That said, I haven’t done any voiceover work for them since before Anna was born. Anyway, if I was in the country on my own, knew the right people in uniform to get out of the country quickly should a problem arise, and I was basically braver, there could be a lot more information and links on this site.
For now, once we have settled into our own place and got some sort of routine in place, I’ll check if Interhouse still need me back to give English lessons, check the local scene for any crumbs of IT work that Itreco hasn’t already hoovered up ( 🙂 ) and if Dan finds his workforce temporarily saturated with workload, carry on freelancing/consulting there. Which reminds me, I need to make sure his better half received our birthday greetings.
We still need to sort a new pushchair, visa, baby supplies that are difficult/expensive to source in Kazakhstan and data housekeeping (backups for Anna & Tim’s photos, all our files on our drives, all Mum & John’s on theirs etc.) Must remember to avoid TGI Friday in Kiev airport this time around, unless most of the staff lost their jobs and were replaced by efficient/friendly people. A man can dream…
Almost four weeks since this blog had a “proper” post on it. Since Christmas, New Year and Amsterdam all took my focus away from the blog, I tried to tweet photos or updates occasionally to keep some fresh content coming in. Anyway, back home now, though in a month or so we will all be moving back to Astana. I will try and post up the rest of Anna’s photos from last year, and also some info/pictures from the recent Amsterdam trip as soon as I can.
Before I forget, if anyone has noticed graphical glitches in the last few months, after a few WordPress core and plugin updates, please do let me know.
Anyway, I’ll be trying to use this netbook’s keyboard more often when adding to this site, and once Anna is at most one month behind in her photos, I’ll try posting Anna and Tim pictures within a week or so of them being taken. That way Ira’s family and friends can see Tim before he gets there, and once we move back to Kazakhstan, our family and friends back in the UK can keep an eye on the children in something closer to real time 🙂
When we are in Kazakhstan, Irina has some more maternity leave available, so it will be both of us looking after Tim and Anna a little longer. One possible direction to take would be me taking on more daytime work, and finding a nanny/childminder for a few days a week. The obvious field of work would be more IT based work, as this requires virtually no preparation time (beyond my normal techy-based idle research) compared to teaching English, my main other work when in Astana. Given regulations soon to come into force in Kazakhstan, I will not be able to write about some current topics of interest, but others who aren’t based in Central Asia have been doing a good job keeping people updated with links and thoughts. When fund management jobs were recently juggled around a little, KZBlog, eurasianet.org and neweurasia.net all caught some articles worth reading.
Anyway, I have not had any voice-over work since before Anna was born, and although there are definitely a lot more students who want extra lessons, the time spent preparing for each one can sometimes double time away from Anna (and now Tim). Fixing computers, installing new set ups and recovering from digital disasters also don’t require me to pay special attention to the (English) vocabulary spilling out of my mouth, lest I should pass on any bad habits to locals wanting to use English for academic or job related reasons! I just have to hope we can get a GPS sorted for our Kazakh car, as trying to find streets can take a long time in Astana, not only do you have the near gridlock achieved when traffic lights are turned off in favour of manual control, but with names actually changed fairly frequently, you want to spend your time away from home working on a errant computer, not battling against the massed 4x4s around the city!
When we return back to Kazakhstan, I will need to start considering how to use my time more carefully, and try to ensure I maximize earnings along the way. When Irina goes back to work, looking after Tim and Anna at the same time is likely to be pretty knackering at first, so I’ll need to try and set aside a few hours every couple of days where I can focus on work related tasks. I probably need to start thinking about changing the physical work environment a little as well. I had wanted a little whiteboard to write tasks to do, contacts to chase up etc., but as my PC is in the living room back in Astana, this adornment would not be welcome on the wall. In the end of the living room that we’ll call my office chairs are not a problem, however trying to type from a sofa or armchair is a bit impractical.
We currently have a dinner table seat at the desk, as the original proper office chair was broken when a couple of friends decided that it could take them both at the same time! It now permanently tilts all the way back. Even I had to agree that it looked messy. Rather than throw out a mostly functioning piece of furniture, we relocated it to the living room balcony, which is where people can smoke. Once Anna was able to walk though, I no longer had use of a comfy reclining seat on the balcony though, as Anna proved very early on that she had the dexterity to lock Daddy out!
Part of the problem is that any PCs/hardware I’m attempting to fix then competes for desk space with another couple of PCs and a printer, and all sorts of odds and ends. Maybe I should set up a very narrow study/office on the balcony!
Taken Anna & Ira to music group. Tim in front of a weir (?? man made mini waterfall type thing) here in Clydach – http://t.co/SCmraG8r
Anna made cakes again today, to celebrate Nana’s return. Tim doing fine. http://t.co/udYvB7sd