Christmas in KZ (sort of)

I always follow Tina Fey’s rule: “say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” This explains a lot of how I ended up in Kazakhstan. So when The Billfold asked contributors to write about what they were doing for Christmas this year, I immediately volunteered.

The end result was a personal essay written from an inner place of great kindness and love and a geographical place that evokes a lot of reflection on “what is life?”

Denmark and Sweden were oh-so-lovely! I ate lots of great things, saw people I love, and drank in the scenery. The weirdest thing I noticed: it was the first time since moving to KZ that I had gone to someone’s house that wasn’t provided to them fully furnished. As a result, I bought a number of household things. And cheese. You can’t get good cheese here.

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I ate lots of fish.

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Made some flettede stjerner.

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Went for a run around Växjö Lake.

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Saw nice scenery.

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Ate my all time pastry fav: frøsnappers.

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And cried while eating a hot dog on the way home.

It is Christmas Day today, here in KZ, and in a strange turn of events, I am actually leaving for the airport to fly to Malaysia. My workplace came into some extra cash at the last minute and decided to send some of us to a conference in a nice sunny place – a great Christmas miracle, as one of my co-workers and fellow Malaysia-goers aptly put it.

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Watching the Malaysia No Reservations episode and drinking champagne with said co-worker. It was boring, but who cares*!

At first, I was reluctant. Pretty much every flight coming into Astana from Europe is a red eye and I’d gone into work an hour after coming back to KZ from Denmark. I was so tired that I entered the wrong PIN 3 times that morning and locked my bank card. And that evening I leaned over a candle and my dry-as-kindling hair caught on fire**. But then I remembered the rule of yes and recognized it for the thoughtful gift that it is and happily accepted.

So I will be spending the rest of this Christmas day in Almaty, walking around and eating honey cake and then hopping on a very long plane ride to a warmer locale.

Happy holidays!

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Here is a cat I was looking after for one of the professors. Now someone else has to look after her! She is so soft.


*The Uzbekistan episode of No Reservations is so similar to life in Kazakhstan! I highly recommend.

**My hair looks okay.