And the living’s easy.
Summer has come to Almaty, and that means so have two of my favorite things: fresh raspberries and outdoor water polo. People pick the berries at their suburban or rural cottage (dacha) and then have grandma sell them in plastic tubs on the street for a few dollars a tub. They are sweet and tender, as raspberries were probably meant to be. The pictures of water polo are from the USA v. Kazakhstan match, which the USA won 11-8 (give or take a point). I consider this revenge for the winter’s bandy match. The Central Pool doesn’t have a terribly original name, but it is a really beautiful facility: 50-m with a 30-m all-deep section for water polo. The pool is framed by Almaty’s mountains in the background, which impart a sense of the dramatic. Someone joked that the US players must have felt strange getting on a plane to Kazakhstan because it is such a remote location (and because of “Borat,” of course), but I imagine even they, who train at Stanford, would respect the Almaty pool. I’d love to swim in it, but day passes are USD60 a pop, and the Fulbright is not that generous.
All through the winter, friends have been promising me that summer is the best time of year in Almaty. There is certainly a life to the city that I haven’t experienced before; people are far more athletic and active than I’d believed, and there are a fair number of outdoor activities of which I hope to take advantage in the next two months.