The city is vast but unlike Astana it somehow hangs together. Its origins and development is visible as one enters it by car, even the outer districts, ugly and raw, make sense. In Astana only Tselinograd makes sense and Tselinograd is an old Soviet town rather than a capital of „six-times-France“.
The train station and the adjacent Avtovokzal look almost exactly the same as their Astana counterparts. Busy and grimy. A lot of expressionless older women with scarfs, waiting. The taxi driver herd in front of the station some hustling others tending their cars. The back and forth tense conversations on every corner. As if the most important decisions for the country were being made right here and now.
There is more liveliness on the streets than I had expected. And that this surprises me surprises me as well. Had I taken the Karaganda-is-built-on-bones lamentation too seriously? Did I think that people would still look and behave like former zeks?
How ideal this place would be for runners and cyclists. There is plenty of space. There are no narrow streets and there are parks with broad walking ways. After I start thinking about this I start to see people on bicycles. A few. And on Sunday morning I am not the only person running in the park. I suspect though that those that I see are heeding medical advice.

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