Bob's back in the game today and we're off to the gym at 8:30. An hour of lifting, sit-ups, rope jumpong and exercise bike riding later and we're ready for some ping pong. Bob's not at his best today and I'm playing very well. I win the first four games before Bob finds some consolation in taking the fifth. The summer tourney tally now stands and 7-4 in my favor.
Back at the hotel @ 10. We'd asked Olessya to have maintenance come look at the air conditioner: It seems the more it runs the less effective it is at cooling the room. She told us someone would be by before noon or after our return from the baby home (usually around 3:30). Alli's been waiting for the possible morning visit, but we tire of it at 11 and head out for a walk.
It's another BEAUTIFUL day! We walk for about an hour, leaving just enough time for me to get showered and ready to leave for the baby home between 12:15 and 12:20. We arrive just before 1:00 to find the kids outside and everybody fed! Bob and Beth grab a blanket and head for some shade; Alli and I opt for the marble room. Still no rug on the floor so we play on the furniture. The kids are lightly dressed and in great spirits. We get some good video and great photos.
They really only do a handful of things each, but we enjoy every minute and every occurrence of Molly shouting at no one and nothing in particular, Aidan blowing bubbles, Molly rocking side to side, Aidan trying to figure out how to stand from all fours. We try to measure improvement in mobility, communication, attentiveness and name or voice recognition, but mostly we just love being with them. We look at them and they look at us - We wonder what they're thinking and they seem to wonder at everything: Why are YOU ffeding me today? What language are you speaking? What are those things on your face and why won't you let me grab them? They are pleasant to be with and seldom even fuss. It's ninety minutes of magic every day however often it might read like the same daya over and over again.
After we walk back to the hotel, Alli and I head for the internet cafe. Another power outage creates a problem: Alli is a couple of journal pages into her Blog entry and loses it all. Our hope is to finish our posting and e-mail quickly today so we can get back to the hotel and take naps before dinner. This setback cuts into nap time, but we persevere. Alli gets her Blog entry posted and spends the last twenty minutes sending a new picture: a very cute shot of the two kids playing on the sofa. NOTE: We can't post photos to the Blog until the adoption is final. We have sent photos to several people and requested they forward to others stateside. If you haven't seen the photos and would like to receive future additions, please let us know.
Tonight's activities: The "Shiskabob Place" followed by a cabaret/nightclub. Alli and I manage about twenty minutes of sleep before it's time to get ready for our 8 PM car ride. Olessys tells us the Shiskabob Place will be crowded tonight: In fact, she had to make reservations with a cash deposit yesterday in order to assure us a table. When we arrive, the dance floor is packed with folks celebrating National Health Workers Day: Doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care workers shaking their groove things and having a great time. The demographic is about five women for every man throughout the restaurant and maybe eight to one on the dance floor. Most of the women are in their late forties or early fifties and all are dressed to kill. We join the dancing - circle dancing is popular - while waiting for our kabobs.
After dinner, the fun starts when a girl arrives with a birthday singing telegram complete with balloons and party hats for two of the ladies. There's singing and well wishes. I dance in the circle with one of the birthday girls, and two songs later she's at our table for a ladies' choice. As that song ends, someone we think is the son of one of the two birthday girls shows up with flowers and entertainment: A guy in drag! Now things get very entertaining....
The guy/gal goes through several minutes of jokes followed by an elaborate bit involving a jester's hat (each of the women in the birthday girls' party had to wear the hat and dance to a song of the guy/gal's choosing). Finally, he organizes yet another circle dance, then walks right up to our table and (apparently) invites me to take part. Olessya explains it's an old joke/story about a match and a match box: She will be the match and I will be the box.
The guy/gal is going a mile a minute in Russian and gives Olessys a microphone so she can not only play the part of the match but translate for us as well. Alli, Mary Ellen and Mary Ellen's husband, Brian, who arrived today @ 2:30 are on the other side of the circle. They are playing the part of the fuse. The story goes something like this (and remember, the guy/gal is speaking Russian, after which the crowd roars with laughter, Olessya translates and, depending on what might have been said or done, the crowd roars again). I'm including Olessya's words below:
"So once there was a match and a box"
"So the match likes the box"
"So we should pretend we like each other"- we hug
"So we should probably rub against each other because I am a match and you are a box" - we
rub backsides (remember, the match is thirty-two weeks pregnant!)
"So now we should probably have sex" - I point to her belly as if to say that's been taken care of,
but the crowd roars its insistence so we hold hands, wave and pretend to leave for more sex
At this point, Olessya goes around the circle to light the fuse and tells Alli et al to make a sound like fire. They hiss, the guy/gal says something, and Olessya translates: "He says you sound like snake, not fire, and he's not happy with you." The guy/gal says something else, and the women in the circle shout in one voice and throw their arms up in the air to simulate fireworks kindled by the match and the box. The guy/gal walks up close enough for me to see the glitter on his fake eye lashes and says something quite earnestly. Gaels of laughter ensue and Olessya finally composes herself enough to say, "So he would like to know if you want to go home and sleep with him."
Now it's one thing to be propositioned by a man in drag, and it's something else altogether when it happens in another language in front of hundreds of people. I'm completely caught off guard and stammer somethin involving no as the crowd roars at my embarrassment. The din is only
beginning to die away when another man walks up , grabs and starts shaking my hand and jabbers at me for a good ten seconds despite the glazed, I-have-no-idea-what-you-are-saying look in my eyes. Thankfully, Olessya is at hand, so I ask, "This guy doesn't want to sleep with me too, does he?" She explains he apparently thinks he knows me but of course he is mistaken. His wife arrives, he tells her who he thinks I am, Olessya tells them who I really am, and much embarrassment ensues as we say our nice to meet yous in languages neither can decipher. I run for my beer and the sanctuary of our table....
Safety is only fleeting: A woman from the table behind ours would like a dance and, apparently, a little bit more if there's any to be had! She's about 5'5" and weighs every pound I do. Tonight, buoyed by vodka and inspired by my performance as the box, she's feeling dead sexy and wants me to light her fire (at least, that's what I think she said...?). I'm at an immediate disadvantage: This gal likes to lead. We twist, spin, twirl and bump. At one point I'm on my knees bending back to touch my head to the floor with the expectation she will dance over me. To my surprise and the agony of my knees, she sits on me mid-thigh! This gal is having the time of her life and I'm wondering if I'll ever walk again!
The song ends, but before I can bid her a galant farewell, another song begins and I'm back in her arms again. Now I'm looking for help: Bob's laughing and snapping blackmail photos. The flash catches my partner's eye, she turns and see's Bob and for just an instant I'm yesterday's news. I see my window and jump for it, leaving Bob for Ginger Rogers (I figure he's a mrine with training in hand-to hand combat and can probably handle her a little better than I can).
She comes back several times throughout the remainder of our stay. She drags brian out while Bob and I cower behind our wives.
We leave at 11:30. I ask Bob if I can see the pictures before he puts them on the internet. he tells me he's already made arrangements for copies he can give to Aidan and Molly. We laugh all the way to the cabaret....
As we enter the club, there's a casino area and a dance club. The dance club has a small stage, and as we take our table, three young ladies are dancing in bikinis made of flowers. When they finish, things start to get eclectic. A woman plays violin over pre-recorded dance tracks while music random music videos play on the screen behind her. Next, a very attractive exotic dancer takes the stage and even Alli - she of the legendary pole moves - is impressed! A male vocalist follows the dancer, begins with a ballad and moves to three pop tunes, the first of which inspires one of the two men at the table next to us to get up and dance - by himself! Moments later his friend joins him, though they both appear to be dancing alone. A young lady makes it a threesome, but she pays them no attention and the favor is returned in kind.
Another exotic dancer follows for one song before the DJ takes over and spins a series of good club dance songs. Alli and I join a crowded dance floor of men dancing with men or alone, women dancing with women or alone and the occasional old fashioned couple dancing together. A young lady takes the stage and sings a series of dance tunes over pre-recorded tracks and the dance floor continues to hop. When she finishes, the violinist returns. Bob, Brian and Olessya order ice cream! In a nightclub! The performers continue to cycle through in similar order as before and we head home around 2 AM.
If I had no clear picture of what Kostanai, Kazakhstan would be like during our six to eight weeks in country, I can honestly say an evening like this one was never part of any scenario....