This is Argyn's blog. I comment on topics of my interests such as software, math, finance, and music. Also, I write about local events in Northern Virginia, USA and all things related to Kazakhstan

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nauryz 2009, REston, VA

This year's Nauryz of Capital area Kazakh's was in Reston, VA at the Community Center on Colts Neck road. It's quite far from any metro station, which certainly caused inconveniences to many car-less folks, like students or those who came from other regions. The tickets were distributed only through some "paper bag" online service. The only good thing about this service is that they're supposedly supporting some charitable cause like environment protection. Ticket sales stopped on April 8th, while the event itself was on April 11th. This is so contrary to Kazakhs habits. Kazakhs are impulsive people to a great extent, we tend to postpone ticket buying decision for the 11th hour.

The location was quite a downgrade compared to all previous Nauryz celebration in this area. Last time it was in DC, the previous before the last was in McLean, VA. However, the venue place was spacious and of high quality. When we drove to it we recalled that we've been there before on some jazz concert a few years ago. As a matter of fact the community center's hall was so big that it felt empty all the time. I think there were about 200 or so people, but they had no chance to fill the huge space.

Interestingly, we sang Kazakh anthem in the beginning of the event, but didn't sing American one. That's unusual. Another weird thing is the spelling of Kazakh in English. The organizers like the idea of using Latin alphabet for Kazakh language. There's this whole movement within Kazakhstan to move the alphabet from Cyrillic to Latin. Some people think it's a good idea. Apparently, there's also Pan-turkism undercurrents present too. The idea of great Turkic nation, Kazakhs, Turks, Kyghyz... Yeah, of course! Kazakhs better sort out tribalism within Kazakhs before thinking about Pan-turkism. Anyways, these people are pushing to use Turkish alphabet. It makes me sick, and made me post on the subject here. The funny part is that those who push for Latin alphabet can't figure out how to spell properly themselves :) Look at the banner in the center of the picture. They managed to use three different letters for the same sound on one banner :) That's hilarious.

There was a bunch of people from Kazakh embassy in USA, including his highness the Ambassador. I spoke with one embassy employee, who told me that the embassy itself wasn't an organizer of the event. It went under the banner of Kazakh American Association, who call themselves "Kazakh diaspora in USA". The embassy only provided the catering. I recognized the food and some waiting staff; and the same embassy employee told me that although the catering was by the same company, food wasn't on the level they expected. I tried it and it tasted bland. There was good roasted meat, but grilled meat was too dry, tasteless. Apparently, plov (pilow) wasn't good either, but I didn't try it myself. Soft drinks ran out quickly. Wine and spirits were not free, luckily I didn't have any cash with me. Someone else told me that the catering was by Amerigo restaurant in McLean. I acn't confirm it. I was in the restaurant once, it's owned by Soviet Union emigre, refugee or something like that.

There were some games, like tug of war, arm wrestling and others. I didn't participate. I consider the Nauryz celebrations mainly as a networking opportunity. It's always great to meet new people and chat with old friends. This Nauryz wasn't an exception in that sense. One can meet almost every Kazakh in the Capital area once a year at this event.

There were two hosts of the event, a guy and a girl. The male host was quite awesome for American Kazakh celebrations, speaks English, Russian and flawless Kazakh. The entertainment part was rather traditional, i.e. some dombra, some singing etc. In Kazakhstan it's very similar. You have all these performers performing, and crowds wandering around, eating, chatting and sometimes paying attention to performances :) Akhmet, who went to the same musical school that I went, played a kuy on dombra. I forgot which kuy it was, but remember that I played once in childhood too.

Overall, it was probably the most boring of all Nauryz celebrations in this area. We left long before it ended, and headed to the night club with one visitor from NJ. We went to Bambule and it was a blast. Somehow we even caught the live band playing before it wrapped up at 11pm. The place turns from a restaurant to a night club around that time. The music selection was great for social dancing: latin, oriental, international dance etc. Then on the way home we ran out of gas, and had to call a cab to take us home :)
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