Living abroad as an ex-pat (or foreigner) there are often chances to do things, you would never get the chance to do and meet people, you would possibly never get the chance to meet! During the last few years living in Kazakhstan, I have seen a number of random visitors to my workplace: royalty, Roger Moore, Dom Joly and various members of parliament.
A few weeks ago saw the first rounds of the Davies cup. The matches taking place in Astana were Kazakhstan against Uzbekistan. Our PE teacher played and coached tennis for years and was very excited to offer us all free tickets to the event. The matches were taking place in the large, modern tennis complex in the central park and for once were actually quite well attended!
The special guests of honour were the Olympic medalists and the rent-a-crowd, seen at the ice hockey and football, who bring their scarves and trombones to support the Kazakh sports men and women.
This time it was a little more serious, as once the players had served there had to be silence so they took each opportunity of a break in play to chant and play the drums and trombone. We ended up watching a doubles match, which was won, as the whole tournament was, by Kazakhstan.
Whether there was any connection with the Davies cup, I don’t know, but the following week we had a visit from 90s tennis star Martina Hingis! I remembered her from my youth and because of this, assumed she would be much older than me. As it turns out she isn’t and was rather glamorous. She talked to the staff and children and visited the different departments during her brief visit. The children were all very excited as was the Head of the PE department!
People seem to visit places like Kazakhstan for so many different reasons. Don Joly was here as a journalist, Prince Andrew on official business. I couldn’t really work out what Roger Moore was up to.
Last week we were visited by a very talented musician who worked with the pupils and gave a concert at the end of the week. He played the clarinet wonderfully and was a great showman. Upon speaking to my colleague, however, I discovered he was more famous in the UK for his unusual performance on Britain’s Got Talent, face-dancing to music! It did make me think perhaps he would have had more of a chance of getting past Simon Cowell with the clarinet.
The next week I was busying myself in the classroom, when a group of visitors knocked and entered. I was introduced by my boss to a gentleman who I was told owned a group of shops and was soon to be opened in Almaty. The gentleman concerned was a really friendly French man and he was particularly happy to be able to speak Spanish to me as he had been surrounded by Russian and Kazakh speakers during his visit. I didn’t catch his name but had a brief exchange in Espanol.
A few weeks later I was talking to a colleague about the incident when she asked if I knew who he was. I replied that I was told he was a shop owner from France. Yes, she replied, the shop in question being Louis Vuitton!!
Images of Martina Hingis courtesy of Aliya Sariyeva