Sunday, July 1, 2007

It isn’t Canada Day in Astana

[Once more a big thank you to DM for supplying illustrations for this blog]

It was just another day. The small basketball court beside my apartment building acquired a green outdoor carpet and became a small soccer pitch. More railings were being painted and sidewalks torn up to be replaced with interlocking stones. The outdoor bazaar has indeed moved but no one can tell us where it has gone. It may not have been a holiday here today but there is one fast approaching and preparations are underway. From what we can understand it is the “Day of Capital” and used to be in June but is now on July 6 to coincide with President Nazerbayev’s birthday.

There’s a detailed description of all the festivities on the Astana city website that Sarah, one of my fellow mums, showed me at her place. For some reason I can’t access the website from my computer but I am providing the link here in case someone reading this blog can get to it. If you can, please see if you can make head or tails of it and tell me what’s going on. While we have tried ourselves, I believe what is written there is the output of the worst machine translation ever.

Here’s another link to some background to the day that is far more comprehensible and cynical:

I didn’t see KMG today (because it’s Sunday). I think this coming week is going to be the hardest yet. I am definitely ready to take her out of the baby house. I had been anxious before about where to put her to sleep (there’s no crib in the apartment) and what to feed her (the boxes of cereal and formula are all in Russian). But these worries are all becoming secondary now to my desire to start being her parent. One day last week, one of the stern nurses allowed me to feed her. Kiana didn’t seem to be hungry and resisted being fed. I spent a good five minutes and then gave up. I lifted her up out of her high chair and started to leave. The stern nurse commanded me to stop, ordered another caregiver to take KMG, put her back in her high chair and feed her more food. Again she resisted, so the stern nurse herself took over and force fed her. I stood by trying very hard to display neutral body language. It’s hard to supress one’s opinions about things like feeding babies, even the opinions you didn’t know you had.

Yesterday the nice nurse was back and my translator happened to have come with me. As I was feeding KMG (who was hungry and ate every last bit of her food) the nurse told my translator that they’ve been afraid I’m angry at them for dipping into Kiana’s diaper stash. I had suspected for a while now that I was supplying diapers for more than just Kiana and I didn’t mind at all. I was surprised that they thought they’d offended me and realized I really have to work harder at my neutral body language.

My translator had come with me so that I could say goodbye to Kiana’s doctor who is leaving on holiday. I gave her a gift (more on gifts in another post) and asked her to write something for Kiana. (This – having caregivers write something for your child – is just one of the many ideas that adoptive parents have come up with. Another is buying eighteen gifts from the country of origin – one for each birthday. I haven’t done this yet.) So the doctor wrote a note and I could tell that it was heartfelt and I was touched. I have looked at it several times since and have absolutely no idea what it says.


BT said...

I LOVE the idea of 18 gifts and notes from caregivers. I wish we had thought to do something so comprehensive.

Any way you can have your mom bring formula and baby food when she comes out?

You've definitely reached the stage of frustration with part-time parenting. I thought I would go nuts during this stage. You just sound ready to have Kiana to yourself and fully under your care. You are going to love it! You are almost almost almost there. I'm taking a minute right now to think back over how far you and Kiana have come.

Happy Canada Day and maybe you will raise a fervent Cdn patriot as we seem to have in Peter who popped up this morning and announced that we must all stand in a row (facing out our front window to where our flag is even though we couldn't actually see our flag) and sing Oh Canada. A definite first for M and me. M commented thankfully that we continue to live in the absence of conscription.

I will try to check out those web sites about your Day of Capital and get back to you if no one beats me to it.

As I am writing this, it is almost July 2 in your part of the world, which means you are well on your way to having Kiana with you all the time.

BT said...

The first link works, but it's hard to make sense of all the details of the significance of the day. The gist seems to be that the celebration is for the birthday of the city??

A choice excerpt:

"Here each interested person can plunge into violence of colors, taste some ice-cream of every possible grades and participate in festival «Cheerful zooworld». Probably, not casually Singing fountains, one of the most picturesque places in capital, are chosen as an original workshop where talents can communicate to the admirers in easy conditions."

The second link also works fine. You're right: it's more skeptical, mostly about the use of tax revenues for such an elaborate and long celebration. Here's an illustrative excerpt (also, about as far as I read):

"According to official data, nearly $15 billion was spent on city construction since the capital had been moved, though many believe this figure is underestimated. However, not only construction demands money, but also celebration of its finish. According to the Government Decree №1102 dated November 22, 2006, more than $1.5 million was allocated from the budget for presentation of the “Peace and Consent Pyramid” (construction cost - $69 million) last year.

"Recently, the authorities of Astana told how they plan to celebrate the Day of the City. This symbolical “birthday” is neither a state holiday, nor a memorial date (besides the Day of the Capital has weak traditions – initially, it was celebrated on June 10, now it’s on July 6. By chance, July 6 is the president N. Nazarbayev’s birthday as well).

"As reported, the city Astana administration plans to hold a full-scale celebration. Even Almaty (which alongside with the oil-rich Atyrau oblast is the major donor of the republican budget – unlike Astana) and rich Moscow do not celebrate the Day of the City such grandiosely. The festivities will be taking place for six (!) days."

It seems you'll have plenty to entertain yourself with while passing the time til July 7 and 10.

Anonymous said...

Happy Canada Day, JG. The fireworks are starting, my dog is freaking out, and, as always, I'm thinking of the (illegal) pyrotechnics Dan and I set off for your birthday at my house.
Let's do it again when Kiana turns one!
(Yes, Rilke turns one this week--the same day as George W. Bush, Sylvester Stallone, and 50-Cent. Poor kid. Nonetheless, I am very excited about her big birthday.)
Tomorrow, Alison & I (and David and Warren) are going to see the White Stripes. I wish you were here, so that you could come too.