Sunday, 18 October 2009

Never boring, Philip Kurkorov and Kazakh excess

The last few days have been great, everything running smoothly after my trip to the UK, everyone happy and healthy. We have been in a routine, noone late for school, no bags forgotten, no chaos. In fact, so ordinary, that I did begin to think "Gosh, our life is so normal here!".

And then I got to Friday.

Ha ha ha.

I arrived at school to pick up Eldest and take her for a one on one hot chocolate as a special treat, only to find that the somewhat delicate traffic system there was being disrupted by the most enormous, white stretch limo that I have ever seen blocking the drive. On further enquiry I discovered it was taking some year 3 kids to a birthday party.

As eldest daughter and I walked to the car, we were looking at the gigantic, white ostentation-mobile and chatting about it. She then commented that a girl in her class was particularly well off, and had some really amazing stuff as a result.   Of course, kids notice if someone in their class has all the best kit. In Kazakhstan there is some stiff competition for gadgetry and utterly cool toys but fortunately, our kids' school has a pretty strict uniform and rules on taking things to school. So we don't have to cope with kids running around with Louis Vuitton school bags and Macbook Pros aged 7 years old (they have them all at home, but are not allowed to bring them to school!).  The particular child she mentioned happens to be quite closely related to President Nazarbayev, so I explained to her that, you know, the fact is that when your grandfather is the benign dictator of the oil-rich, ninth largest country in the world, that you might get the odd toy more than normal. So just an average after school chat with your kid.

Then, we got an email from a guy setting up a black tie St Andrew's Night dinner in a hotel in town. At first glance, you would think that this would be very run of the mill: an expat boozy night (isn't that what expats get up to all the time, anyway?) some Scottish flags, lots of whisky, cock a leekie soup to start. But reading down we realised this would be a night with a difference. The same guy is very interested in rugby and the Kazakhstan Ladies First XV is one of the top ranked ladies rugby teams in the world. So at the end of the normal information about a black tie event, we read:

During dinner, we will also be holding Kazakhstan's first 'Ballroom Scrum' competition.  The winner of the Scottish (& friends) men's vs Russian (&friends) men's team will compete against the Kazakh women's team for the 1st Annual Ballroom Scrum Trophy.

ha ha ha. As you do! A totally normal evening!???? Sounds hilarious actually, and I think we will probably go to see this event. 

And finally, today we attended the wedding and reception of the son of a business person that my husband does a lot of work with. This was a reception for more than 300 people at the newly-opened Rixos hotel in town. 

The wedding organisers had hired 30 top of the range white limousines for their entourage, including Rolls Royces and brand new stunning Mercedes etc. The rumoured cost of the event was over US$400,000 and I can well believe it. From the very beginning we were pretty over-awed. The descent to the ballroom was lined with stunning models, on one side dressed in gorgeous traditional Kazakh dress and on the other, in similarly gorgeous Korean Hanbok (dress). Between these very attractive human ornaments were 9-foot-tall arrangements of flowers, mainly white and pink roses. 

The ballroom was decorated with huge arrangements of flowers, candleabras, and stunning white tables. In one corner stood a full Yurt, another corner had a half yurt serving kazakh delicacies and drinks (If you wanted to chew on some dried camel milk curd, this was the place to be!). The bride emerged from the main yurt in traditional Kazakh dress, accompanied by the music of a nine-piece kazakh band. That was the start. 

The whole event was spectacular and deserves its own post. But the most notable thing about the event was the entertainment. There was literally no expense spared. They had 11 acts before dessert. The Bride and Groom were accompanied on their first dance by 6 ballerinas from the state ballet. We listened to, I think they are called, Yalla, an 70s Uzbek folk/rock band who were apparently huge in soviet times (they were brilliant), Korean drummers, some modern Kazakh beautiful female instrumentalists who do classical music with kazakh instruments with a beat, a couple of opera singers, a superb jazz band, and finally a gigantic star flown down from Moscow called, I think, Philippe Kurkova, who looks like a fat, Russian Michael Jackson and lip synced his way through a set while the guests went wild, and his dancers (who looked like a bunch of muscly eunuchs) writhed around him. It was fabulous! Amazingly entertaining and spectacular. I just looked him up on Wikipedia and it is worth a look, especially the Controversies section at the bottom of the page. Or not to be so mean, you can see him perform one of his hits on You Tube if you click here.

And so the last couple of days have been a bit of a refreshing break from our normal routine. There have been some eyebrow raising moments, which I have to admit I really like. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are having a really interesting time. The controversies were interesting, especially the bit where "all charges were dropped". Ahem.