Cobus Block

Cobus Block is a student of China and a former Fulbright Scholar to Kazakhstan

Posts by Cobus Block

A Kazakh in Urumqi

Christmas spirit on the new silk road – by Cobus Block


“Would you like to try our special Christmas fruit platter?” our waitress asks in Chinese, fur-trimmed, red-velvet stocking cap bobbing as she leans forward.

Kayrat glances my way and then responds, “Sure, bring us a platter and a pot of tea.”

“What about beer?” Yerbol asks the waitress.

Her reply is lost in the refrains of Jingle Bells, starting again for the third time.

“Bring us three Qingdaos each,” Yerbol yells, leaning back and reaching into a pocket for his cigarettes.


In the Autumn Cold

A party in the guardhouse – by Cobus Block


Yafeng was standing at his post beside the guardhouse, rocking back on his heels and looking into the sky when I walked through the gate. A gray, padded overcoat bloomed out over his slender frame like a worn traffic cone. Topped off with a battered officer’s hat, he looked more comical than intimidating. As the most sociable guard in our apartment complex, he had a habit of talking with residents whenever he saw an opportunity. It was not long before we became friends.


“Life is an Internet Café”

A chance encounter in the middle of nowhere, by Cobus Block


I met her on a crosswalk in Yiwu, eastern China. Traffic was thick and we were both stranded between lanes. As I searched down the street for a gap in the oncoming vehicles, I noticed she was watching me. She caught my eye and, instead of looking away, smirked and shook her head.

“It’s crowded,” I broke the ice.