Friday, September 6, 2013

Things I've learned

1) Sturgeon look like giant swimming rats. They're like awful mer-rodents.
2) Fake concrete brain coral is just sad.
3) Karaoke+nightclub is an excellent combination.
4) Waltzing is harder than it looks.
5)  The hava nagila circle dance cures everything.

So I ventured out into the world of karaoke in Kazakhstan for the first time, and it's a world I like. Forget Zaza and its smoke bombs--the karaoke nightclub scene is for me. I think I spent most of last Friday night wearing a Ukrainian bridal headdress, chewing on chechil and marvelling at the long, long list of English songs I could choose from at 8 drops, a karaoke club that is set up like a wedding reception site, with a little dance floor and a slightly raised stage surrounded by a semicircle of tables. (We were at a prestigious table, apparently, to the delight of my companions.)

On the English songs list: Baby Got Back. Bowie's Wild is the Wind. Bon Jovi, of course. Sinatra, of course. Manic Street Preachers NOT of course but amazing. And in the midst of all that happiness, the dj called a halt to everything, gathered all the patrons in a circle on the little dance floor, and led us all in the hava nagila dance. Borat be damned.

So that was fun. I also hied myself to the aquarium on a fine day last weekend, to see what the aquarium located at the greatest distance from the ocean in all the world was like. Answer: OK. The exhibition on fish of Kazakhstan was surprisingly interesting, mostly because Kazakhstan has some funky looking fish. And sturgeon take the cake, with their narrow, twitching "noses" and weird beards and muted spines. They look like something that came into existence before the species of the world got ahold of themselves and figured out where they were best suited. I imagine that at one point a cousin of the sturgeon was swimming around, reached up to stroke his horribly misaligned whiskers, and thought, "Oi. Hold on. I'm clearly supposed to be a thing that sneaks around dumpsters," and hauled himself out of the water. Apparently one member of the family didn't get the message.

I've also been to another free ballroom dancing lesson...about which it's best to say little, I think. Through great effort and much under the breath counting, I've mastered the "rock and roll step"--except, pathetically, when my partner and I try to actually match our steps to the beat of the music. We were about to step away triumphantly when one of the Russian instructors stopped us and said to wait, wait for the beat. So we did, and we tried, and we fell apart. How pathetic, to be a competent dancer except for, you know, actually feeling a rhythm. Ha ha. Then I lost my shoes when I tried to waltz. We're on the tango next and it might kill me--but ah, it's fun. I like this about Astana--there seems to be all kinds of stuff on, if you know where to look.

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