About Me

Answers to questions you may have — or not have.

Who is this StrandedTexan person who keeps posting stuff on this blog?

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably put two and two together: Malavika = StrandedTexan.  I’m trying to keep my online profile limited on the Interwebs, but considering that the address of this blog has my name on it, I have not been that successful.  Two years ago, I joined the growing ranks of reformed newspaper reporters carving out new careers when I decided to go to graduate school for a degree in Russian and Central Asian studies.  In graduate school I learned about twenty different words in Kazakh for horse meat, discussed Vladimir Putin on a daily basis, and spent too many hours at coffee shops reading about censorship in Russia and Kazakhstan.  I also made a few self-discoveries in between soy honey lattes: first, that I want to work in media development, and, second, that my lust for traveling and living abroad has not been satiated.

What is this blog about?

This is my personal blog in which I will chronicle my year living and working abroad in Astana, Kazakhstan as a writing teaching assistant at an English-language university.

Kazakhstan?  Is it like that Borat movie?



Well… OK, so it’s not.  Kazakhstan is the largest of the Central Asian republics (the others are Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan) to emerge from the fall of the Soviet Union. Kazakhs are part of a large swath of Turkic peoples who occupy the region that stretches from China to Turkey. Historically, they were nomadic peoples, at least until the Russian colonial expansion in the 19th century and Soviet rule in the 20th century. Large influxes of other ethnic groups (Russians, Ukrainians, Germans etc.) during the Soviet era contribute to the ethnic diversity of the country today as well as the widespread use of Russian, especially in the cities.  Kazakhstan claims to the birthplace of the apple (its old capital Almaty used to be called Alma Ata, or grandfather of apples in Kazakh).  It is also the home of the Russian space program at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the launch site from where Yuri Gagarin blasted off in Vostok I to become the first man in space. Oh, and there is a burgeoning rap scene I plan to fully explore.

What’s with the title of this blog?

It’s a quote from a poem in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

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