Friday, June 6, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

Many of you have been asking how we are managing with the language here and how we spend our time when we aren’t visiting M at the Baby House. We can honestly say that one must always be careful what they wish for. Yesterday after our visit, we walked down to the store to do some grocery shopping. On our way back we passed by a household goods store and noticed that they sold fans. Thinking that a second fan might help to get the air moving to cool down our apartment, we ventured in to check out the price. Of course, no items had prices on them! No problem, we knew we could ask for it with a simple, “Prajalsta, skolka eta stoyeet” (Please, how much is it?) and hand them our calculator so they could punch in the cost, which has worked very well for all of our other shopping adventures. Well, apparently Tammy finally got her wish of not sounding so foreign because the very kind saleslady started to talk very quickly and didn’t bother to use the calculator, thinking that we were fluent in Russian. Our eyes must have widened to the size of dinner plates and Tammy managed to babble out a “Prajalsta, ya nyehz-ni-yoo parooskee” (Please, I don’t know Russian) which is actually a bit of throwback from her Ukrainian family, but seems to work equally well here. But anyway, we successfully found out that the fan was 2800 tenge, but since the handle was cracked, she would sell it to us for 2700 tenge. SOLD!

Other than that, we are managing quite fine with the language. With a few important words (please, thank-you, etc.) most people are very patient with us and appreciate our efforts to learn and use their language. We don’t imagine we will be joining coffee row anytime soon, but with a little forethought we are able to get by quite well. We’ve also done some clothes shopping and have bought a few outfits for M. We have also brought along our PDAs on which we have installed pocket dictionaries, so when we get stuck, we can at least find a word or two to get the conversation pointed in the right direction.

It finally rained here this morning, which cooled the temperatures considerably, at least for awhile and also knocked the dust down. The dirt here is a very fine, black powder similar to wood ash. It gets into everything and is hard to wash off.

Speaking of washing, it would appear that many of the apartment buildings have a central source of hot water, which has conveniently been shut off for a few days for maintenance and will likely be off for the better part of the week. The downside is that we have to boil water for washing dishes and bathing, but the upside is that we don’t have heat pouring off of the towel warmer in the bathroom. Since apartment buildings are heated by water, each bathroom has a set of hot water pipes that twist back and forth and act as a towel warmer/radiator. A brilliant plan, most of the time, but seriously not needed when the temperatures soar to 30+! Again, be careful what you wish for – no hot water, no towel warmer.

When we aren’t visiting M, we spend our time doing a variety of things. We usually do a bit of shopping every other day because things like bread, fruit and vegetables are very fresh and therefore have a very short shelf life, so you don’t want more than a couple of days worth or else it spoils. Over the lunch hour and between visits we catch up on emails and blogs because we don’t expect any calls since all of you are sleeping. After supper and dishes we usually do a load of laundry or two (the washers here are quite small) and then sit back to do some reading, watch some sports or CNN or watch a video that we brought to watch on our laptop.

As for visits with M, they continue to go very well. He is excited to see us and except for with a couple of his favourite caregivers who play a lot with him, he prefers to stay with us at the end of visits. He goes well to both Mom and Dad and looks for us if one of us is out of sight. Today Tammy had to go pick some things up from the coordinator so left her boys together for a little one on one play time. We expected that to not go over too well, but to our delight M’s lip only quivered a little and he quickly returned to playing with Dad, who is the all time party guy. Usually M sits on Mom’s lap and Dad gets to play. When Tammy came back around the corner and M heard her voice, he threw his toys down and sped across the blanket on all fours to be picked up for a hug. After a few minutes of reassurance, he was ready to get back to the party with Dad.


Deamel said...

Hi Rod & Tam
Good to hear your "Russian" is coming along, we're sure by the time you come home you will all but mastered it. Little M sounds like he is reaching out to you well, but that's a given knowing your sparking personalities. It is getting tough to walk downtown or go grocery shopping as people are always inquiring. Keep the blogs coming, the boys enjoy reading them to me.
Take care and love ya:
Dean, Mel, & the bad eggs

Jo said...

I was wondering if you had taken any Russian classes prior to travelling or are you self taught? What tips would you give to other future adopters before travelling to Kaz (anything you wished you would have brought or known etc.)

Butch & Tracy said...

Sounds like you all are doing great. Glad to hear that M is bonding a bit with good ole dad!!!

Moms will always be #1... well... most of the time! But good that M is ok with his dad.

We are looking into Russian Cds now. Hope we can pick up a few phrases to use.

Thanks so much...