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Contact Admin. Oh, Borat has got it all wrong. Everyone I meet is in agreement on this. Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is not a totalitarian dictator; he is only moderately repressive: banning and intimidating opposition parties, jailing the odd journalist, etc.
The country's national drink is not horse piss; it is fermented horse milk that merely tastes of piss. And Jew-baiting is not, actually, a national sport. It's more of a hobby, as in the phrase 'You're as tight as a Jew' or the practice of making 'a Jewish phone call' when you get the other party to call you back on your landline. Dilyara, a fresh-faced student of economics in the city of Karaganda, who's showing us around the place and has lived in the States, is quite clear on this.
We have Jews but they tend not to announce themselves. And then she takes us - Steve, my travelling companion, and me - into a cafe where we have a bit of cake. So, you see, wrong, wrong, wrong. Or, perhaps, just a little bit right. He picked Kazakhstan. Poor Kazakhstan. First Stalin, now Borat. Before I left, Erlan Idrissov, the Kazakh ambassador in London, invited me over to the embassy for a little light indoctrination: the economy, fuelled by massive reserves of oil, is booming, he said, they do not rape women, and many illustrious personages have visited the country, including Dick Cheney, the Duke of York, and Chris Tarrant.
He is Oxford type! He is exploiting people's ignorance of Kazakhstan! Which is true, of course. I know almost nothing about Kazakhstan despite having been, that rarest of rare things, a tourist there. I went in to write a chapter of a guidebook and have nothing but fond memories of my time in Almaty, even then the most cosmopolitan city in central Asia.
I've learnt a thing or two, though, having been endlessly outmanoeuvred by poor but wily peasantfolk whose sense of hospitality was so acute that after a casual encounter of say, an hour, we'd be showered with food, alcohol, gifts, the choice of their sons, horsemeat, and invitations to stay and live with them forever.