Sunday, July 25, 2010


As part of the Soviet legacy, Kazakhstan is significantly more
centralized than the US. This means both politically and in their
collective thinking. For example, the nightly news on the non-cable
tv channels is always about all of Kazakhstan. I think about prime
time news at home, where channels devote most of their time to local
stories, with national news coming on later in the evening. But
watching the news with my host family the other night, I noted reports
about a new school opening in Kostanai, northern Kazakhstan, a
conference in Almaty, southern Kazakhstan, and a kymyz tasting
festival in Semei, eastern Kazakhstan.

When people talk to me about American politics over here, they
normally bring up one of three things. Sometimes they mention how
much they like Obama. Sometimes they talk about how much they
disliked Bush. And sometimes they ask me if we really have different
laws in each of our states. This must be standard school curriculum
here, because a number of people have asked me about this, and it's
always a fascinating subject to them. Here, each "oblast," like a
state, is basically in charge of carrying out the laws of the central
government in Astana, not making its own rules. They can't imagine
how a country can hold together when each state can make its own laws.

On a completely unrelated note, my new nickname is "Obama."
Apparently we strongly resemble each other in some way that I was
hitherto unaware of, because as I was riding the train with a friend
the conductor kept calling me, and only me, "Obama." And he
introduced me to other passengers as "Obama." Unfortunately, the
other passengers didn't believe him. Maybe the resemblance isn't so
strong after all.

And on another completely unrelated note, my parents are coming to
visit soon (yay!) so I won't be able to update my blog for awhile.
Stay tuned for summer news in the fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment