From Kranskop to Kazakhstan

2015-07-29 06:00
Lisa-Marie and Edward Clifford – winter in Kazakhstan.

Lisa-Marie and Edward Clifford – winter in Kazakhstan.

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FROM Umvoti to Kazakhstan is quite a leap, but that’s where Lisa-Marie Kotze (daughter of Awyn and Gertie, ex-Kranskop) has been for the past two years, and it is fascinating.

Although Kazakhstan gained independence from Russia 24 years ago, Russian is the language of communication.

Lisa lives in the city of Almaty and with her husband Edward, teaches at the Miras International School.

They are both learning Russian.

The city is very cosmopolitan, with malls and many restaurants – WiFi is available everywhere and it has excellent cellphone coverage.

All schoolchildren learn to play a musical instrument and nobody is shy to dance, sing and celebrate whenever they want to.

There are three New Year celebrations to cover the various cultures and Women’s Day, Veteran’s Day and Fountain Day are celebrated.

Lisa says the Russian word for work is roboto and the people certainly work like robots. Banks close at 10pm, shops at 8pm and cafés at 11pm.

The justice system is swift and decisive – a bomb threat led to an immediate arrest, trial and sentence - all on the same day.

The police are very smart and proud in their tunic uniforms, reminiscent of a president’s guard – serious and stern faced no one dares mess with them.

The downside Lisa says is “maybe the culture shock if you are easily intimidated by an inflexible system where everything runs on time, buses and trains arriving and departing as per schedule, administrative­ procedures being painfully accurate, influx control is effective and one has to register after five days in any city in which you are staying or visiting.

However, for locals and ex-pats living in Kazakhstan it is a pleasure – just as when you say thank you, there the reply is always “its a pleasure” and living there certainly is

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