Almaty : Paris of Kazakhstan

For quite a long time, my Kazakhstani friends from Almaty were nagging me to visit Almaty by saying “it’s gorgeous city, it’s the New York of Kazakhstan…”! I didn’t need to have wild imagination to believe their saying but just compassion. After so long roaming around the globe, I am quite familiar with this kind of exasperation which is correlated with the longing for the homeland and as consequently the beautification of it.

Almaty was the previous capital of Kazakhstan, south east of the country close to the borders with Kyrgyzstan and it has totally different scenery, climate and population from Astana. It’s surrounded by mountains and forests, it has a mild climate comparing to Astana and an established multicultural population. The latter, I’m suspecting, gives the right to my Almatian friends to be a bit superficial in their description.

The distance between Astana and Almaty is around 900 Km and by airplane  one and half hours.

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Looking out my hotel’s window, I was quite happy to see something else other than  steppes.

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P1080188Abai’s statue in the city center. Abai (1845-19040) was a prominent Kazakh poet, composer and philosopher
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Remnants of the Soviets. The portrait of Lenin in the entrance of an old building with apartments.
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I was quite impressed by these Moscow like kiosks (newspapers agencies).
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The smaragdi colour traditionally is the most popular colour of the whole region.
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An elegant girl is waiting for taxi.
P1080173On the way to the airport we passed  by this mini replica of the Eiffel’s tower  and I’m still wondering why my friends didn’t mention Paris and  were insisting on calling Almaty “New York” !!??

From nothing to something : Anonymous women sequel

As the economic crisis is going from strength to strength, it’s worthwhile to mention some other important social issues that are happening the same time because of that, in a quite paradoxical way. Heterosexuals distance themselves from the institution of marriage giving space to the homosexuals to indulge themselves by tying the knot with their partners. And the foremost weaker sex, the women are  getting ahead with their own issues by moving their campaign to a step further than that of equality and  equal opportunities in the work environment…

In the Western world,  during the month of October, there is a widespread campaign about promoting the issue of Unknown-2women’s leadership. Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook CEO and author of the book ‘Lean in’, has brought the issue on the surface and supports it in every opportunity. Around the globe and in various educational Institutions, there are a lot of happenings, conferences, lectures about  the same topic  “women as  leaders”.

It is obvious that women are learning and moving slowly and steadily to the area of being competitive rather than shuffling around the notion  “just being nice to each other”.

Interestingly, while women are getting ahead and get some important positions, (eg. Lagarde, Merkel) in some industries they are still in the stage of being anonymous. One example is the publishing industry which is traditionally populated by women and targets a bigger audience.

It was quite a long time ago that I was thinking about this phenomenon, but recently an article about Alice Munro sparked Unknownmy interest once again. It was titled “From  a quiet housewife to a Nobel Prize Winner”. As we are saying from “Rags to Riches”, the most appealing topic for storytelling  in the history of  humanity.

Looking more closely at Alice Munro’s biography, it’s worth mentioning that she has started her career as bookstore entepreneur and has continued  by having more than 30 books under her belt and  numerous awards and prizes. But all the above were details for the journalist, he had to assign to his article an attractive title.

Another example is  J.K Rowlings. Her full name was dropped intentionally by using only her initials. Insinuating that  Unknown-1John is more able and acceptable to write a blockbuster best seller fantasy fiction for children but not Joanne.Unknown-3

And another, E.L James who has raised a lot of eyebrows all over the world with her “different” shades … Ho, ho, ho, what a surprise! Who would’ve thought a woman can write another blockbuster “erotic” series of novels. Let’s put only her name’s initials and classified her as housewife, avoiding  her long and established career as producer in the BBC- to enhance audience imagination and inspired them with the idea “from nothing to something”. It goes well with all the marketing package.

Good old Penelope- at least she had an established full name from the start of her career- still  has long way to go!