Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Day 3 – A pre-Christmas miracle

December 2, 2012

It snowed today! This is good for several reasons. 1) It means it was warm today (only like -10!), 2) The snow covered all the slippery ice so my chances of falling on my face and/or shattering my spine greatly decreased, and 3) The humidity level was finally higher than 2%, so I didn’t get super dehydrated and my face skin is still in tact! It’s a pre-Christmas miracle!

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Quick update for those of you who I don’t trust enough to be my facebook friends: We went to some sort of Christmas bazar thing today with like, the only other 20 foreigners in the entire country. I bought some ornaments for myself and maybe some lil souvenir gifts for some people. Maybe. Then we went to the mall and I bought a sausage and ate it and it was delicious. Then we went home.

The End.

Oh and I might as well share some other things I’ve learned about this place so far (in case, you know, you need to come rescue me):

1. No one speaks English or has ever heard of it or even knows that another language other than Kazakh and mayyyyybe Russian exists. No joke. And this sucks because all I know how to say is da (yes), nyet (no), spaziba (thank you), pajalista (please), Stolichnaya  (Stolichnaya), Engliski (English), and dasvendanje (bye). And I’m not even sure if those are the same words in Kazakh. So to communicate, you need to be fluent in sign language. Or Kazakh. Whichever you find easier.
2. Kazakhs are apparently obsessed with Maroon 5. I’m not sure why. But in the grocery store, on the radio in the taxi, on the local music channels, you name it – Adam Levine’s melodious feminine voice is to be heard. And that shit stays stuck in your head, too. So I’m like, slipping on a patch of ice somewhere, and in my head I’m all, “I got the moves like Jagger…”

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3. Any part of your body that is exposed to the air will fall off within a matter of minutes. I had to go drop something off last night at Ma’s friend’s apartment across the courtyard. It’s literally 25 meters away. I had to get mad bundled up, and then I was all like “Oh it’s not that far – I totes don’t need my scarf and gloves.” WRONG. YOU ALWAYS NEED YOUR SCARF AND GLOVES! My face went through the entire spectrum of colours, from normal to red to blue to purple to white and back again, and my hands had no feeling or sensation left. You could have shot me in each hand twice and I wouldn’t’ve felt it, from how numb they were. The funniest part is watching me try to light a cigarette in this state. And by funny I mean, laugh and I’ll kill you.

4. I’ve lived in cold places before. I’ve experienced snow for years. I know what it’s like. I also know that proactive measures are taken to ensure that the roads are cleared of snow as quickly as possible. This is done with a snow plow and salt. In Kazakhstan, they haven’t learned this yet. There is no pavement. There are no streets. You’re just driving constantly on snow. And walking on ice. Don’t get me wrong – they try! But they’re doing it wrong. I saw a guy today use water to break up the snow and then shovel it across the sidewalk. Uhm. Water freezes, asshole. Thanks in advance for the spinal fracture.

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5. All female Kazakhs are born with high-heels on their lil baby feet. This is the only explanation as to how they can possibly walk long and dangerous distances (I’ve even seen chicks RUN! Like, run to catch a bus, or run across the street) in 5 inch hooker boots that have zero traction.

Okay and that’s all for now. I need to go lie on top of the radiator for a while.

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Day One – Captain’s Log

November 30, 2012

I’ve never felt this cold in all my conscious years of living. Like, seriously. It’s not even describable in words. When I landed, I honestly thought my hands would fall off while I was smoking. It was -18 degrees when I landed and still getting colder. And Ma had the audacity to tell me “It’s actually not that cold today!”

Some things worthy of note:

– I didn’t realise we were landing. I thought we were still in the clouds. This place is a barren wasteland, surrounded for like 500 km on all sides with tundra and wolves and bears. I took a picture when I landed. It’s on facebook, but my rendition looks like this:

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– There is a 90% chance that I will return without a face and hands.

– The toilet in Ma’s apartment has a heated seat and, wait for it… A BUTTON THAT YOU PUSH SO THAT WATER SPRAYS INTO YOUR POOP HOLE AND CLEANS IT FOR YOU! They have one setting for men, and one for women. Not really sure how that works.

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– There were fireworks at the palace across the street when we drove up to the apartment. I think they sensed my arrival.

– In order to go outside even for three seconds, a typical outfit consists of: a t-shirt, a sweater, a light jacket, a bigger jacket, a scarf, a hat (with ear coverage), leggings and/or thermal long underwear, jeans, and boots that cover at least halfway to the knee. If you miss one of the aforementioned items, you will perish.

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– Putting on the above mentioned array of clothing requires at least 15 minutes. We’re staying on the 11th floor. Perhaps it’s time to quit smoking?

– WordPress is actually blocked in Kazakhstan, so don’t tell the government I’m here before they come get m

An icy wonderland

March 2, 2009

Ten, Omar, Mohammed, and I decided to go to Dubai Mall. I was driving my Hummer limousine, Mohammed had shotgun, and Ten and Omar were in the spacious back part. Which had an ice-skating rink in it. They were rehearsing.

We get to the mall and manage to find parking, grab our skates, and enter through the entrance near the aquarium. There, we had to stow away our normal walking shoes and slip on our skates, because the entire mall was covered in ice. So instead of walking from store to store, one had to skate. Which was good news for us, because only few people could skate well enough to shop in that manner, so there wasn’t too much people-traffic.

We made our way through the mall, stopping at the Adidas store to buy some french fries (weird, I know), and finally reached our destination: a huge rink smack-dab in the middle of the mall that had bleachers full of about ten thousand spectators. The show was about to start!

Ten and Omar changed into their costumes, and for some reason, Mohammed and I weren’t in the show. But we were like, crew people, in charge of music and lighting and such.

Anyway, I cross-faded the lights and Mohammed aimed a spotlight at the announcer. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN…” boomed his voice, “WELCOME TO THE THIRD ANNUAL ICE-SKATING EXTRAVAGANZA!” While he was talking, I was supposed to get my music ready for the routine, but my computer was refusing to work! I tried restarting it and everything, but nothing seemed to get my iTunes open. Which sucked, because I foolishly forgot to make a backup of the music I needed. “…LET THE SKATING BEGIN!” Shit! Ten and Omar had already taken their positions, waiting to hear the music cue, but I couldn’t get anything up and running!

“Listen loser, you’re gunna have to improvise,” I told Mohammed. “Don’t worry about it, I got it covered. I’m gunna sing the song myself,” he replied smugly. This actually did worry me, because Mohammed can’t sing for shit. Let alone in front of ten thousand people for some huge ice-skating event.

Suddenly, the music starts. What? How is this possible? I thought. It sounds exactly like the real song! With syncopation and rhythm and snare drums and backup harmonies and instrumentals and everything! I turned to look at Mohammed, who was now plugged into an amp, and he just winked at me. “Dude, seriously. This is fucking weird, how are you doing this?”

He then explained to me that because he’d heard the song so many times before, and because he’s part bedouin, part robot, he has the ability to use his brain like an extensive CD-ROM and burn shit onto it. So the music we needed was written onto his brain, and all he had to do was set up the necessary connections, and the music would play. This same procedure could be used for anything, including studying, watching movies, learning languages, memorising dance moves, and everything else one can possibly do in life. I was in awe.

Meanwhile, Ten and Omar started their routine. And they looked amazing! Ten landed the triple axle perfectly, while Omar skated backwards in front of her, matching her every move in reverse. Then came the part of the routine where he had to lift her over his head and spin on axis, let her go so she would fly through the air, then do some weird flip-thing, and she was supposed to land on the other end of the rink and spin to a stop. This is the part during their practice runs when they usually messed up. Because he’d throw her too far, and she’d end up crashing into the bleachers. So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

They waited for the crescendo, then he lifted her into the air, and began spinning. After eight counts, he was supposed to fling her across the rink. Eight counts came and went, but the instrumental cue never came. In fact, it sounded like the CD was skipping. But then I remembered: there is no CD! I look at Mohammed, and he’s just standing there, looking confused. “Uhm… Sorry Ona, I don’t remember the next part of the song! My brain is stuck in this loop!”

I looked back at Omar and Ten, and things were not looking good. Because the rule of skating is, you follow the music cue. There was no way Omar would let Ten go until he heard that first note of the violin. So they were still spinning spinning spinning spinning spinning, faster and faster and faster. The ice underneath Omar’s feet was beginning to crack. He was literally drilling a hole through the rink!

“C’mon Mohammed, THINK! You know the next part! It’s like da-da deeeee, dadadaaa dum… da deeeee, dabadabadaaaaaaa… Remember?!” He obviously didn’t. His brain was indeed stuck. Stupid advanced bedouin-robot technology.

There was an ear-splitting crack, and the crowd gasped as the ice finally reached its brink and shattered, forcing Omar to stop spinning. He flung Ten in the direction he was supposed to, she flew gracefully through the air, and landed on a floating patch of ice on the other end of the rink. The audience went wild! They thought this was part of the performance! Omar and Ten were now on opposite ends of the ice-skating rink, which looked more like a semi-frozen ocean, with patches of ice strewn about the place. 

Not sure of what to do next, the two skaters began making use of their small ice-patches and did their own solo performances. But you could tell it was difficult, because the ice was all wobbly and stuff. I had to think fast.

Quick as a bolt, I turned the lighting machine on autopilot and ran downstairs to the garage where the Zamboni was parked. I jumped in the driver’s seat, put it on the submarine setting, and slowly submerged under the water, completely hidden from the crowd. Once I was fully below the surface, there was another garage door that opened into the rink, but from the underside of it.

I slowly cruised forward. On the dashboard were several buttons, with various useful functions. I was particularly concerned with finding the “ice restore” button. Finally, I found it. I then positioned myself in such a way that when I pressed the button, ice would shoot out from the top of the Zamboni, to reach the surface, and fill in the gaps. I did this for the entire length of the rink, and could see that Ten and Omar were back on track, because they were continuing the last part of the routine. Looks like Mohammed remembered the rest of the song after all! Now all I had to do was get back to the garage.

I turned the Zamboni around, to head back to the garage door, but it was nowhere to be found! Apparently it was only an entrance, not an exit. And the only other door led to the inside of the aquarium, where I definitely did not want to be, because there’s like, sharks in there. And everyone knows that sharks eat Zambonis for dinner. 

I heard the muted, underwater sound of the crowd applauding frantically, and looking up, I saw they were throwing roses and stuffed animals and other paraphernalia onto the rink, indicating their extreme level of enjoyment. Ten and Omar bowed several times, and after a while, skated off. Meanwhile, I was still trapped under the surface.

A penguin swam up to the passenger-side window and gazed sheepishly at me. He then took out a piece of paper and started scribbling something on it in permanent marker. When he held the paper up to the window, I could read what he wrote: nEEd hELp?

I nodded and signaled to him that yes, I did in fact need help, and he scribbled back: wAKE up!

And then I heard my phone ring, and Muaz was calling, telling me to wake up and come to uni.


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