Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012

A funny thing happened this morning when I sat at my computer and first saw the weather had been 1 degree when I went to bed, but upon refreshing my screen, Google indicated the current temperature to be 37 degrees. I knew there was no way in hell that there could have been such a steep rise overnight and went to the weather bug website to double check and it confirmed that it was indeed a lot warmer today than it had been for many days.

I dressed in the same fashion I have lately, but switched the heavy duty sweatshirt for the fleece one and arrived at the American Corner to find it closed. By 9:30am, there was still no one to open the door and I called Natalia to have her contact the coordinator. A few minutes later, a young woman, her face tied up into a frown, opened the door and was none too happy to hear me ask for paper to copy our handouts. She later told Gulnara she had to account for the paper used there and our session wasn’t considered part of their program. Gulnara promised to return the paper sometime next week
Just as I had suspected, only a handful of teachers were gathered by ten o’clock and few of them could follow or sing along with the booklet of Christmas carols Willoughby had painstakingly put together for them. I personally can only sing a couple of them and chose not to take part in the sing along. Elena agreed that carrying the program for two whole hours would be extremely tiresome and we agreed to ended by eleven, have a coffee break and then I’d take over with the activities I had brought.

                        The ancient rotary dial telephone still in use at the Children's Library

The teachers had fun with the “Call to Santa” pair activity and the “Let it Snow” practice where they needed to make changes to the lyrics while listening to the song several times. I really like the modern rendition by Michael Buble and wished we had access to the YouTube so they could have actually seen him sing it.
The Forum board met for about an hour to discuss the winter break professional development series and the nomination of Gulnara to attend the women’s leadership conference in the U.S. I had already agreed to have dinner with Willoughby on Christmas Eve at a Chinese restaurant and other members decided they wanted to join in the fun too.

Zarina had a samsi waiting for me when I got there along with coffee and some pastries. I reminded her that my landlady hadn’t called or come by and that I was sick of the noise in my place. Zarina would like to be present when she comes by to collect the rent so she can interpret for me.

Olga and Leila were going to help out with some games for the conversation group, but wanted for me to go first. I did the same two activities I’d done for the Forum teachers and the students were delighted with them. The games provided by the other teachers weren’t related to Christmas, including the popular “Pop my Balloon”, but the students really got into them and had a good time. Candy was passed out at the end.

Given the rise in temperature, it was then 45 F, the snow was melting everywhere causing huge puddles to accumulate on the streets and sidewalks. I decided to walk home and save myself the claustrophobic ride in the minibus. The Christmas tree was going up in front of the Ala-Too Square and a small crowd of onlooker had gathered around it along with individuals dressed in costumes related to the holidays. I took some photos and some of them willingly posed for me while families paid to have their photos taken with them.

                                   I'm not sure whose characters they were representing

At the Beta Stores, I frantically looked for a suitable present for the Santa exchange, an activity I have always loathed, and could find nothing remotely appealing for that sum of money. A clerk at the store recommended I go up to the second floor where more choices existed and just about when I was ready to give up, I saw a simple necklace for exactly 200 soms. I asked the shopkeeper if she had a pretty bag for it and she did for just an additional 15 soms. I spied a pretty bracelet and got it for Zarina hoping to give it to her privately.

                                  Fanciful Christmas tree outside the Beta Stores

The commotion at the apartment was so bad that when I heard voices on the landing, I opened my door and found a heavy-set woman across the landing bringing out boxes and something that looked like a small generator. I mimicked to her that the noise was driving me crazy and she responded she didn’t understand. I was so furious I slammed the door in her face. Whoever is above me continued to drag furniture or drop heavy objects on the floor or against the wall, or whatever in the hell it might be they’re doing all night. I couldn’t concentrate on doing anything at all. Even watching a movie with my headset didn’t prevent the noise from coming through.

I need to get out of this place for sure. The sooner, the better.

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