Surprisingly, German cars seem to dominate Karaganda. A lot of Audis, BMWs & Mercedes. Fewer VWs. Asian makers are well represented too. We’ve seen a couple of Opels and Peugots and only a handful of the very boxy, older cars that I would guess are Russian. We’ve seen zero American cars, but our driver told us he recently sold a Chrysler 300M.
On better roads, the number of lanes in your direction is often subject to interpretation. Frequently drivers push up on the left rear bumper of someone as if to say “I am coming through here, you should move to the right”. But it’s never felt the least bit unsafe. The most interesting thing about the driving in Karaganda is the different behaviors at high and low speed.
On a four lane high speed street, drivers can be counted on to stop for a pedestrian where there is no light. Just step out. But in the very tight parking lots and on smaller side streets, there’s quite a bit of low-speed chicken. “I continue to nose forward even though the rest of my car will not fit unless you back up. You must retreat.” Even pedestrians are pushed back by cars. Apparently cars have the right of way in low speed situations.
G is the tallest and plumpest in the room, even though some are at least 13 months old to her 8. Since the children all eat the same thing, we recently asked some caretakers (through our interpreter) why she was so plump. The short answer is she’s lazy. This is really going to cramp our active lifestyle! (Ha!)
This fact clicks with the behavior we’ve seen. We put toys out of reach to encourage crawling or rolling over, but she decides she’d rather lay there and look around. I think she’s actually rolling over less than when we first met her. Maybe because we give in and give her the toy? We did have some success with sitting recently. Not moving to a sitting position. But if we place her just right and put something entertaining in front of her, she will sit without being propped — for a while.
Today we went to the bazaar before lunch. It’s a very large and crowded flea market with indoor and outdoor stalls. There was also an indoor food section. Nothing for tourists though. It is interesting to note that a lot more people shop at the bazaar than the malls downtown — probably a thousand times more. Our (college student) interpreter shops at the bazaar. So far, we’d been seeing just one section of the city. We saw a lot more getting to the bazaar.
After the bazaar, we went to a restaurant called Dastarkhan for lunch. The restaurant features either Uzbek or Uyghur cuisine depending on who you ask. This may not be mutually exclusive as there are Uyghurs in Uzbekistan. We had laghmans which were very good and a horse appetizer that wasn’t as good as the other time. Also, the Baursaki was very disappointing. They were remarkably hollow. (Who knows this movie reference? “What the freak is this?” “It’s a popover.” “There’s nothing in it!”)