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New Direction: Writing about my Kazakhstan Adventure

I haven’t written for a couple of weeks. I admit I’ve been reeling from the “attacks” of my Writers Group colleagues on the poorly developed dialogue in my manuscript, Peaces of You. I am taking their advice and trying something easier while I improve on the basics of fiction writing. For most writers, the easier way is to share our own experiences. I’m trying that. Here’s the first installment of memories of my Peace Corps experience:

The Kazakh woman was walking sideways, trying to use the overhang of the dipalidated shop roofs as protection from the downpour. Then she waved at me. I’d been told by my Peace Corps supervisor that my new host family would pick me up near the Almaty headquarters, but I didn’t see a parked vehicle.

This was a little disconcerting, coming alone to meet a stranger in this strange land, but it couldn’t turn out worse than my first experience with a local family. I was moved from that home because the father made lewd gestures when no one else was at home while trying to follow me into my bedroom. This lady had an inviting smile, and her hair with its henna color—the exclusive hair dye used by local women—was neatly combed. She looks just a few years older than me, which would put her in her early fifties. I could see loaves of unwrapped bread sticking out of the shopping bag she carries. I took the bread as a sign that she’s friendly and harmless.

“Hallow, Djoic! I’m Saulye. I have no car so I bring you to my home. My English not good. Do you speak Russian?”

“Very little…nimnoga.” It’s a good thing I didn’t forget my Russian-English dictionary because it was immediately clear that understanding each other would take considerable effort.  She tried to keep her umbrella over my head while we walked the several blocks to a building with chunks of cement missing from the front steps and exterior walls that hadn’t seen a paintbrush in a very long time. Yet when I entered Saulye’s sparse apartment, I felt rather at ease, and even more so when I saw my duffle bags in the tiny room that had been a storage area and would now be my bedroom. That meant a Peace Corps staff person had been here earlier to deliver all my earthly belongings, well at least all that I could stuff into the two bags I was allowed to bring from America. (more…)

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