Guarding the old square
Sandra Powers, rare appearance in front of lens
Post by Eugene Moon; photos by Sandra Powers
Today we will record the musicians who will play a song for us at another hotel, the Intercontinental, subtitled ‘Ankara in Almaty.’ Three of the musicians were in traditional costumes. We set up the video and audio equipment by the back wall of the dining room, which has a maroon color that contrasted with the bright colors of the musicians' costumes, which were very beautiful. The instruments they played were the dombra, kyl kobyz, and Abai dombra, which has a flat body and a more elongated pentagonal shape, with three strings instead of two. We filmed them four times, with Delora (Timur's original host mother in the U.S.) using the slate. I used the boom pole, this time, over my head instead of at mid-level. It was easier to hold this way and less painful than when it was over my head. I managed to keep the mic above my head and not let it get into the shot. That was the hardest six minutes for my arm in my life. At least I was compensated by hearing the wonderful traditional instruments being played while filming. I would like to get a recording of it for casual listening.
After filming, we returned to the old square where the festival was yesterday. Since the square was blocked off until the evening dance festivities, we went to the park behind the square, where there were a lot more people and vendors. Now people started staring at us, but I think mostly at Sandra and Delora. There was a Russian man blatantly taking photos of us and I counter-photoed him. Who's the tourist now? Sandra was the center of attention because of her American looks, with her peach-colored vintage hat which people called her cowboy hat (or cowgirl, to be specific, since she had tied a ribbon on it). I would not be in the center of the circle if it were not for Sandra needing my help. I think I would have blended in with the crowd because my clothes were slightly similar to what the young men were wearing. (I noticed that the younger men all wear the same type of clothes: zipped up jacket, tight designer pants, boot-like shoes, and short hair. The women show more diversity in their fashion choices; some were wearing short skirts even in the snow.) Being encircled by staring strangers felt as if we were a strange attraction in a fair or zoo. It's amusing that tourists who travel to a different country to come see exotic landscapes end up being the exotic ones for the inhabitants.