The School Bus

Nadia started her new school on Friday Sept. 1 – The Kazak-American Primary School, actually a part of the Kazak-American University. Today, Monday the 4th, was the first day on the bus. It’s really a mini van, no seat belts – no one wears them here. I reported at 5 pm to the school to accompany my child home on her first “bus day”. I can tell you it was a most successful exercise in ultimate childhood chaos.


It seemed the kids were ready to get on their buses and knew right where to go. The adults on the other hand were the confused ones. All the returning kids already know their driver and what the drill is. Our driver is a Kazak’s Kazak….strong facial features, almost chiseled, wiry hair and black eyes; that Mongol look that is very prevalent among men here. His name is “Ye-Es Beck” like the initials E. S. Beck and he was dedicated in seeing that every last screaming kid and every clueless, confused parent made it home safely on the first bus trip. I was not only clues less but language-handicapped. These folks mostly speak Kazak NOT Russian – not that I’m an expert Russian speaker yet but we made it through with good sign language and I wrote out my questions I needed answered BEFORE I left to join Nadia on her first school bus home.


Nadia is a bit of an oddity as well. Most of the kids in the school already know she is American and many of them are very academic and a little envious of the fact that a 4 years old American can speak two languages AND she announced on her own in class today she was ready too learn Kazak! They are in fact starting to teach it and Nadia is ready to plunge head first into her third language.


I watched Nadia on the bus. She is a bright eyed child, eager to share with other kids but she is pretty laid back. She doesn’t brag or strut herself like a lot of the Kazak kids do.


And for comparison, here we are on the bus ride home, let talk status symbols. All the stops we made to drop kids were all gated condo communities. We on the other hand live in one of the old 9-story Soviet-designed apartment blocks built in the 1960’s or 1970’s. We live here by choice because of the location (1/2 block for Sophie to her Deloitte offices and 8 blocks for me to walk to my work) and most of all its cheap. I couldn’t be happier that there is a growing upper middle class living in gated communities in Almaty; a clear sign that the oil money is trickling down and really greasing this economy. Big cars, big new houses, everyone is working.


New photos of Nadia at church. She insists going to an Orthodox church every Sunday and wearing the proper head scarf like the women are supposed to and light lots of candles. She is very curious about the chanting the priests do and the iconic pictures in the Church.


More later.


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