WEEK 10: all dressed up and ready for women’s day

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Living in Kazakhstan makes it possible to turn a two-week-long craving for Korean food into an adventure:

Step one: Make plans to have dinner with friends on a Sunday evening. The Korean restaurant of choice is located in a storefront about a block-and-a-half from our apartment and has seen an almost constant stream of facelifts—modern cafe becomes sushi joint & pizzaria becomes unmarked Korean restaurant. It’s dark inside and smells like we just stepped into Southeast Asia. It’s closed.

Step two: Find another Korean restaurant. Believe it or not, there are many in Almaty—a consequence of the forceful move of nearly 100,000 Koreans from Russia to the Kazakh SSR in 1937. Locating our second Korean restaurant of choice requires making several laps around a mall before spotting a tiny sign in Korean that directs us up three flights of stairs to a restaurant that feels eerily like the community center in the small Midwestern town where I grew up. It’s open. There is a pregnant woman sitting at every occupied table. And tonight, it’s serving ONLY Chinese food.

Step 3: Make plans with the same friends to eat at yet another Korean restaurant one week later. Arrive at the restaurant in time to catch young families eating early dinners—each one with a child in a high-seat. We eat Korean food. We have a lengthy, hilarious conversation about breastfeeding. And when we collect our coats from the coatcheck, we are given a hyacinth just days shy of blooming—because it’s women’s day.

{Above: Sam snapped this photo as we drove down the hill from Shymbulak on Sunday—this bighorn sheep is ready for women’s day, too.}

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