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  • Day4

    Astana

    August 25, 2018 in Kazakhstan ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    I couldn’t get to sleep until 3am or so this morning. I was tired enough from all the walking but my body clock was still on Dublin time, 5 hrs behind, and thought it was early evening. One I did drop off, I slept soundly until around 9am. Up for a shave and a shower and the other one and then out to McDonald’s again for more pap.

    I noticed a guy beside me with his daughter; she was about 9 or 10. He was ordinary but looked into the his daughters-in-law eyes with an extraordinary look, to my eyes, a look of complete attention and love. She seemed very soothed by this look and there was a serenity about her. All normal stuff and the birthright of every child but so rare in this sad old world of ours that I noticed it. Or maybe it’s something I’m noticing more and more. Or maybe it was something in the McDonald’s air.

    The weather is quite bad today with very heavy rain and a bit chilly. I had to wear my coat and hat going out. What exacerbates the weather is the terrible state of public infrastructure I can see so far. Unbelievably, many roads seems to have no drainage and no camber so huge puddles of water form on the road, most near the edges but many right in the middle of the road. Drivers swerve to avoid the deep ones and woe betide any hapless foot passenger who is near a speeding SUV ploughing through a nearby deep pubble and is unable to duck the approaching tsunami of dirty water. I was nearly caught out when I saw a huge Zil bearing down on me and being driven at an insane speed. I managed to run forward to a dry spot and the day was saved.

    Before I came over, I got briefly hooked on YouTube videos of dashcam footage of car crashes. Most seemed to have occurred in Russia. You know how YouTube registers what you’re watching and then presents an option to view something similar. I have the app on my huge TV at home so they would play back to back. I know schadenfreude is a sin but I couldn’t stop cackling at some of them. I couldn’t help myself, really. It did help me keep a sharp eye on the traffic here through and to take no chances.

    I did a tour of most of Astana main sites today. I spent most of morning and early afternoon lying on my bed reading Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s book Cat’s Cradle. What an astonishing writer. I read him back in the 70s when I lived in Holland but didn’t really understand it. I thought he was ‘anti’ things. I was anti-things back then, anti-anything at all really, especially myself. I used to think that my enemy’s enemy was my friend. Until he became my enemy, as everyone did eventually. Not exactly a good recipe for a happy life. Anyway, KVJ was part of this but I completely misread him.

    The reason I’m reading it is because I broke my Kindle ebook reader. This is the second one I broke in a short time as they’re very fragile. I had about 50 books loaded onto the Kindle so I would have plenty to read on my trip. They were mostly mind-candy books, science fiction mainly. Well written and intelligent but not challenging. My favourites were Iain M Banks, Neal Asher etc. But now they were all gone. What will I do. I’ve had a book stuck under my nose for almost every day of the past six decades. The withdrawal didn’t bear thinking about.

    I read academic books on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 tablet and that worked fine. However, I had associated it with work and not idle pleasure. But needs must when the devil drives. I opened up my Android ebook reader and ‘Cats Cradle’ was in the cache. I must have accidently downloaded it to the tablet ages ago. I changed the theme to a dark one and fiddled around with the settings so it was easy to read. And, lo and behold, it was much more like reading a real book than the Kindle ever was. It was heavier but as heavy as a real book might be. Goodbye Kindle, hello tablet. I had all my Kindle books backed up to to my cloud drive so I downloaded again to tablet. Bob’s your uncle.

    My trip today was about 7.5km according to Google Maps Timeline and the longest I walked in a year. My foot was sore at the end and I probably couldn’t have gone further. But I’m pleased that it’s holding out. I had an MRI scan a week or so before I left and the result was that the avulsion fracture had healed but that I had a lot of moderate osteoarthritis in my second, third and fourth metatarsal joints. I take a 400mg Ibuprofen 30 mins before I go walking and the pain is manageable. I haven’t taken a second one yet but will if I have a long days walk. I really want to minimise their usage.
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