Saturday, March 9, 2013

March 8, 2013

I had intended to spend a quiet day at home performing a myriad of tasks that required concentrated effort, but instead my morning was disrupted by someone ringing the bell. It was a man I’d never seen, and I just refused to open my door. My landlady then sent me an SMS to let me know she had sent him ahead as he was the plumber who hadn’t shown up the day before.

They came in and he declared the problem to be much more complex than a simple leak. He needed to have the main valve that supplies water to the entire apartment complex shut off and for that they needed permission from whoever looks after it. They hope to have approval by tomorrow and she’ll just let herself into the unit if that happens.

After I had settled down at my computer again, Zamira called to insure I was at home as she wanted to bring me a present as a way to honor me on International Women’s Day. She brought me a single red rose wrapped in cellophane with a pretty bow and a toiletry set containing deodorant, lotion and shampoo. When she realized I had no plans for the day, she insisted I had to go over to her parents’ house and have dinner with the family.

Her parents’ house is located in what you might call a “gated community” for a guy sits inside a tiny booth and moves a piece of pipe with a rope inside up and down to let cars get in and out. The street was dark and muddy, but once we went past the tall gate it was as if we traveled many, many miles. There was a substantial garden with an empty swimming pool, two tapchons, a fountain and a smaller house to the left.

The main house was a two-story affair with lots of hardwood floors, chandeliers and Western-style furniture. The table was set for what I thought was dinner, but turned out to be appetizers and was introduced to the father, a couple of sons, their wives and children. I had already met the mother in Kazakhstan.

With Zamira serving as an interpreter, I held a spirited discussion with her father, who had been a minister of agriculture under the previous government, to counter his allegations that the United States had destroyed the Soviet Union all on its own. I felt that the Soviet Union had overstretched its resources, including the failed occupation of Afghanistan, and thus had been unable to provide for the needs of its citizens.

We then went upstairs to take a look at his magnificent library. Zamira and I stayed for a while looking at the photos of her presentation to teachers in Kazakhstan until we were called downstairs to eat the real dinner: sautéed chicken, lagman noodles, more funchoza, bread, dried fruit and tea. Another grandson had come in who’s about to graduate from the Russian Slavonic University and the grandfather wanted to hear my opinion on his English since he was paying the tuition. I wish I was not placed on that role at all.

Zamira’s mother gave me a beautiful polka dot, black and green, scarf before I left. It seemed to have been daubed in perfume as it smelled divine. We finally left and Zamira took me home. I have to say that this house is the first one I have been to that is elegant, warm, and comfortable.

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