Sunday, February 27, 2011


Well, we didn't make it to church today and here is our story.

We left the apartment at 10am, scurried down to the bus stop across the street to wait for bus number 8.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited.  It is always interesting to observe the fluidity of a bus stop,  people and buses and marshukas coming and going, a constant flow of many streams.  But this morning it was cold.  And the wait was long.  And it was cold.  When we'd been there about 25 minutes and our toes were growing numb, we decided to walk up to the corner where the sun was.  We would still be able to see oncoming buses and it would get the blood moving. 

Well, we walked up to the corner and pretty much straight up to a policeman who had been standing there for a little while.  This man hadn't bothered us when we were at the bus stop about 20 feet away, but when we walked up to him, we were fair game. 

First he asked Peter for his passport.  (We carry a copy of our passport and work visa around with us.  We've been advised that its safer to leave the originals at home).  Peter gave him his copy.  He looks at it and asks him, "rabotaesh?  Gde zshvesh?"  (Do you work?  Where do you live?).  Peter looks at me for translation and all I do is shake my head and say, "Play dumb".  So we just stared blankly at the officer.  Then he asked for my passport.  I gave him my copy.  He looked at it and looked at it.  He said, "Tourist?"  "No, we work."  I replied.  "Where work?"  I pointed in the general direction. 

Next to us, another policeman stopped two Russian looking young adults and asked for their documents.  The guys said they are at home.  Next thing we know, Peter and I are following our officer as he walks down a quieter street.  Behind us the other officer is leading the other two.  Hmm... what will happen next? Now we will miss the bus for sure.  And in fact, I turn and see number 8 go by....alas, alas, alas!

I see one of the Russian guys head off by himself, ahead of us and then across the street.  He returns a little while later and gives his policeman a pack of cigarettes.  All three men shake hands, and the the two Russians are free to leave.

We, on the other hand, are standing near our policeman's car.  He's pulled out some paperwork from the car.  He still has the copies of our passports.  He is asking to see the original passports.  We decide it is time to call up our dear, beloved, life-saver Anna from the school who does everything for us. 
Peter: "Anna, can you speak to these policemen who have the copies of our passports?"
Anna:  "Yeah, sure!"
-------------Conversation with Anna and the policeman-----------

As the policemen discuss the phone call, we catch that Anna must have told them that our original passports are at the Kazakhstan embassy awaiting visas to Kazakhstan.  Not true- but quite probable.  The men stand there.  We stand there.  My toes are even colder.  One guy says, "chai budesh?"  Will you give us tea?  "Coffee budesh?"  How about coffee?  We play oh so dumb.  "Coke budesh?"  We stare at him blankly.  Finally, he pulls out our passport copies from his pocket.  Peter motions towards them and says, "Eta harasho?"  "This good?"  I chuckle inside.  The guy gives them back and we say goodbye.

Alas, our fingers, our toes, our innards were too cold to warrant waiting another 25 minutes for another bus (needless to say church would've been almost over) and a very disappointed Katie walked home, her chance to worship in another language, and her one language-learning opportunity a week gone because of some policemen who wanted tea.  Such is life.


  1. It sounds like you got some language time with the officers!

  2. Do you need me to send you some extra Levi's and Nike's so you can get away quicker next time?