I made a brief visit back in Karatau, Kazakhstan, in October, 1999, passing from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, heading to Talas, Kyrgyzstan. I was allowed to spend a night in Karatau to visit my Kazakh host family. It would be the last time I would see them. Volodya, my Russian driver, and I dropped my Kyrgyz assistant, Aelita, off at the bus station in Taraz. We both then headed to Karatau. My Kazakh mother was surprised to see me since she thought I would arrive in the morning. Then, as per Kazakh tradition, my driver and I were given a really good Kazakh lunch followed by more food. It was a memorable night.
The picture below was taken the next morning. I like this photo because it can show people why I was confused for being Kazakh my entire two years in Karatau. Many locals thought my host mother, Adigul in the purple robe, was my real mother. I think this similarity helped give me a unique perspective on the Kazakh culture. I was actually accepted in my host father’s clan, the Orshata (Baisara).
Yes, this day was cold but I left my fur hat inside the car by mistake. 🙂