More notes from the field

Truncated observations:
– guests come and go casually throughout the day, more often than not they stay for milk tea
– women (especially mother in this household) seem always to be working, even when sitting for tea (she is the one pouring and re-filling)
– seating around the low table, place of honor (oldest male, or oldest adult) is the one facing the door
– tea is served to the oldest male or the oldest adult first, but occasionally host will try to give tea to guests first, it is polite to demure in favor of the oldest male or oldest adult
– reaction to gifts received is subdued, no fuss made (maybe it’s considered flashy? like bragging?)
– hand-washing…since there is no running water, there is usually a teapot with water in it (not always boiled). one usually goes outside and washes one’s hand using only water (used conservatively). shaking the water off of one’s hands is considered a serious faux pas (it’s as if you are flinging dirt from your hands, bad juju), so after washing one’s hands, you wring your hands carefully and wipe them off with a designated rag
– the tone and body language of familial conversation seemed relaxed, though I can only compare with conversations when Dr. Z, Omar, Chalkhar, and I have all been present
– the young children in this household seemed to be mostly left to their own devices, worked around, disciplined verbally, treated with affection (not fawned over, though)
– no running water, no electricity except for the solar powered generator that ran the radio and one light bulb
– interaction between conventionally socialize with one another in a separate area, though women speak and interact with them other freely
– among Kazakh and Uygur women, hair covering appears to be mostly a social convention than an indicator of religious piety, although I did see fully covered (veiled, similar to niqab where there is only a narrow slit for eyes, dissimilar to niqab in that sometimes the full covering was colorfully patterned and was not shapeless) women in Urumqi
– little or no physical signs of affection between partners, although a level of familiarity and intimacy between couples is apparent
– outside of the village where Chalkhar and Omar’s relatives lived, I did not see any teenage girls or young women
– cell phone towers are common as are cell phones, people use for phone and text communication and entertainment (music on cell phones)
– in conversation, women do not necessarily defer to men, though I’ve only observed interactions between older people
– lots of milk-tea drinking (approx. 4-5 cups sitting)
– I didn’t see anyone drinking water…why?
– all of the meals I had were served on a large platter from which everyone eats, usually using hands
– Kazakhs are well known for their hospitality – at meals, you are expected to eat, and eat a lot (“Ish! Ish!”). Consuming less than two cups of milk-tea just doesn’t happen
– black [brick] tea is steeped in a tall insulated canister, coarse salt is added, milk is boiled and spooned into small drinking bowls with a ladle, hot tea is poured through a small strainer into each bowl and mixed with the milk (sometimes the host(s) will add sheep fat [lard?] or homemade butter to your milk tea)
– to indicate that you do not want any more tea, you place your open hand, palm down over your tea bowl
– few personal belongings, though households in the village had more items (photographs, furniture, instruments, wall coverings, satellite television), mostly handmade clothing…women wear skirts, stockings, long-sleeves, vest, black boots (although I did see Mother wear what almost looked like tennis shoes on the 2nd day), hair covering; men wear dark suits, heavy trousers, collared shirt, hat/cap
– high rate of unemployment
– white alcohol a problem

**maybe try sort observations later (i.e. dress, interaction, food/eating, etiquette, division of labor between gender and age group)


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