October 29, 2008
Bonding Day 9
My days are falling into a pattern. At 7:15 a.m. I get a wake-up call from the front desk and mumble “spasibo” (thank you in Russian). True to my form back home, I don’t get out of bed right away. Yet, when I realize I’m going to be scrambling if I don’t get up, I head into the shower and get myself ready for the day.
The Pushkin Hotel has a free, daily buffet for guests. It’s good, but it really doesn’t vary much from day to day. Every morning there is a huge pot of oatmeal, toast, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, beans, mini hot dogs, fruit, yoghurt, and an array of pastries. These sweets are not like those we have in America. Sometimes, it seems you are eating a piece of pie or cookies. Of course, there is always juice, tea and coffee, and you can order eggs any way you want them. There are no pancakes, Eggs Benedict, or French toast. I haven’t seen a muffin yet, though I’ve thought about them more than once.
The waitstaff at the Pushkin is extremely efficient. Yesterday I learned that there are cameras watching the dining room…so I waved at them, of course. The cameras are to ensure that the staff performs efficiently. For several days, I tried to help the waitresses by bringing my plate to the counter when I was signing my chit (you have to sign even though breakfast is free). It was nothing for me to assist in this way, and I could see the waitresses were busy. However, they politely asked that I not help them anymore because their boss was watching and would think they were not doing their jobs. When I heard this, I was quite surprised but acquiesced. I didn’t want an act of kindness to be misconstrued as something inappropriate, and I certainly didn’t want to get these very kind ladies into trouble. They make very little money – about $100 dollars per month – and job security is very important here. I now leave my breakfast plates where they are.
At 9:10, Vladimir and Aliya came to pick me up at the Pushkin’s back door, and we did our usual drive to the baby house. Vladimir likes to vary his route each day, so he doesn’t get bored. Still, I’m beginning to familiarize myself with the different streets and landmarks. I know when we hit the car dealership, I’m almost there.
Emilia was still in her own little room when I arrived this morning, and she was actually sleeping. Although I didn’t make a sound as I peeked over her crib, she must have sensed I was there, and her eyes popped open. She seemed happy to go from the crib straight into my arms and was more like herself today. Her fever had disappeared, and she was ready to blow more food bubbles. During her meal, I was decorated with many porridge medals.
Since Aliya had to stop off at the Ministry of Education on the way back, I jumped out of the car and walked to the Pushkin. The walk was much shorter than I expected, so when I returned to the hotel, I decided to go to the gym to walk on the treadmill. Though small, the gym is quite adequate for my needs. I could have walked for hours, but I needed to use the rest room, and I didn’t want to take a chance on the one located near the gym. According to expert sources, if you don’t turn the knob just right, you can get locked in the bathroom. Since I didn’t want to hang out in a bathroom all afternoon – or experience the alternative of having someone walk in on me because I didn’t lock the door – I simply jumped off the treadmill after 45 minutes and had lunch. I had already worked up an appetite anyway.
I have been eating lunch in my room each day. I bought some groceries and have been working through them. I can’t say it’s a gourmet lunch, but I’m satisfied, and it’s not costing me a lot of money each day. I prefer to splurge a little at the Pushkin’s restaurant, Atilla’s, at night.
I was hoping to take Emilia for a walk this afternoon, as the weather had gotten a bit warmer, but since she’s had a fever the past few days, the nurses said, “Nyet.” Instead, after her bottle (which I love feeding her), we went to the playroom. There were so many times I wanted to take a picture of Em, who was having fun, but I couldn’t hold her and the camera simultaneously. You see, Aliya leaves us to have some quality private time when we are in the playroom.
Aliya is already working to get my required materials together for pre-court, which will happen some time after my bonding period ends on November 4. She needed to go to the Uralsk Airport to pick up a package, so I decided to go for the ride. I have to admit that I barely recognized the airport when I saw it. I must have been in an absolute coma when I first arrived in Uralsk after 24+ hours of travel.
Tonight I had an eating experience I expected would happen eventually. I ordered from the menu and asked the waiter if what I was ordering was beef wrapped in a big noodle (kind of like a noodle burrito) with parmesan cheese on top. He confirmed that it was beef and what I had described. However, when my plate arrived, it was simply slices of beef (kind of like prosciutto) sprinkled with olive oil and with cheese on top. It was still tasty, but I was a bit disappointed. Alas, I’m sure this won’t be the last time this happens to me.
One thing that I really like about Kaz is that the tip is built into the check. I never have to do math at the end of my meal. This is a very good thing.
I am now going to make myself a cup of tea. A few days ago, I bought an electric kettle, which boils in seconds. This was much less expensive than renting a kettle from the hotel – they wanted almost $5 a day! – and I can always leave it behind for Aliya or the ladies at the orphanage. It only cost me about $12, and having a hot cup of tea whenever I want it is certainly worth the expense. Too bad none of you can join me for a cup. It would be nice to have your company!