Thursday, March 29, 2012

From steppe to shining steppe

Last year I made the mistake of emailing the Kazakh embassy in Washington to ask about a town in Kazakhstan. I got a more or less helpful reply (mostly less, now that I think about it) but I also got on the embassy's email list. Almost every day I get news about Kazakhstan that I don't want to read. I have tried putting the address in a spam filter, but all that does is put a yellow flame in front of the email--it still pops up in my inbox.

So I am glad to read this Washington Post story about the huge, landlocked country that used to be a "Soviet Socialist Republic" but now is independent, albeit with the radioactive waste of many Russian nuclear explosions. It seems that a Kazakh woman won a gold medal at the Arab Shooting Competition in Kuwait. This is doubly interesting, given that the Kazakhs aren't Arabs (they're actually more closely related to the Cossacks, as suggested by the similarity of the names) and also that the Kuwaitis put the wrong national anthem on the public-address system. Instead of the actual anthem, they played the spoof from the movie Borak: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which makes fun of a whole lot of things, America and Kazakhstan included.

Serves Mr. Nurgali Arystanov right, say I. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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