Friday, April 11, 2008

Borat is alive and well in Kazakhstan

As an American living in Almaty, there are several questions that people often will ask. How old are you? Are you married? How many children do you have? Why don’t you like children? (sometimes asked when you say you don’t have children) Have you tried our national food? And, of course, my favorite. Have you seen the movie Borat? The correct response to this is to say “yes, of course I have seen Borat. It is a satire of American culture and does not represent Kazakhstan.

Well, after living in Central Asia for almost eight months, I can say with some authority that Borat really is alive and well in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Let’s see…dislike of Uzbekistan? Yes. Hearing people say “You like?” Yes. Potassium reserves? Yes. Chickens on the bus? Yes. Okay, so maybe not LIVE chickens, but there are enough live birds running around the streets of some of the towns I’ve been to. People using the restroom very publicly? Yes. Insane drivers? YES!

There are probably many, many more scenarios in the movie that can be seen in everyday life in Central Asia. Tonight, it will be put to the test. Sarah, Amelia, and I are meeting to have a dinner of burgers and fries (something we don’t often have over here—unless you count the local ‘gamburgers’ topped with shredded carrots and parsley). After dinner, we’re going to watch Borat, snack on hot wings, and have a beer or two while we count the number of things in the movie that we have actually seen. The original plan was to have a sip of vodka every time we recognized something, but we quickly realized that we’d likely be very ill indeed! So, we’ll settle for some Baltika.