ALMATY, Kazakhstan- Kazakhstan doesn’t have much in the way of big cities — or even a lot of people, for that matter. But the country’s two metropolitan centers have already become clogged with cars. While both Almaty and Astana have central street grids designed either by the Soviets or off of the Soviet model — huge, wide streets, superblocks, etc — the amount of cars have already grown beyond the carrying capacity. For the most part, there simply are not enough roads. While China has sought a solution to this problem by breaking up superblocks Kazakhstan hasn’t yet got into this program (and Astana is actually continuing to build more).
What this means on the ground is not only that it often takes a ridiculously long time to get just about anywhere in these cities, but that sometimes you walk out to your parked car and find yourself blocked in by another parked car.
But Kazakhstan has a solution for this.
A few weeks ago I walked out to Verena’s blue Lada Niva to find that someone had parked behind it in such a way that she was completely unable to pull out. We were stuck. What do you do here? Just wait for the guy to show up?
Verena noticed a laminated piece of paper with a phone number on it positioned on the dashboard. She called it. It was the driver. He rushed over and moved his car. We were free.
Verena asked him if he put his phone number on the dash just for that reason. He said that he did. Whenever he parks behind someone he throws up his number in the window. Apparently, this constitutes good manners here.