Retro: Jan-Feb

June 4, 2008

      I realized that I haven’t said much about last winter, namely the months January-March, when it was awful cold, very dark, and generally unpleasant.  That is not to say that nothing amazing, important, or interesting happened-in fact a lot happened, such as the holiday in Georgia, projects starting, a few conferences in Baku, and listening to Ram (The Indian) and Rob (The White Dude) rap at 3 am-but while there is a side of me that truly does like snow and snowboarding, the other side hates darkness, gray skies, low ceilings, lack of heat, and not showering; I have a dodged stubbornness that in this next winter in AzerBeeJay I wont be grumpy and will doing everything short of selling my first born (not that I’ll ever have one, but you get the point)to make it back to the states for a real family holiday.  Anyway, a few things might be amusing/interesting/funny.

 

January: Depressing, but productive, I read through 6 books, started the project with the special needs children, and caught up on pop culture by watching 24, Lost, Prison Break and various films that lacked any true substance but effectively turned off my brain.  This was also the month when I learned to knit and thus produced a pea soup green ‘scarf’ that looked like it had gone though a meat grinder/been run over by a truck; not one to be discouraged with a finished product that when wound around my neck looked as though an Alien life form was growing from my windpipe, I simply unraveled the mess into a bigger mess and started from stitch one-only to be stopped by my ex-host sister, who threw mw a look of utter disgust, grabbed the needles and in under an hour produced a decent neck wrap; at which point I completely lost interest in making a scarf and focused my attention on writing witty bubble captions for skanky chocolate bar wrappers.

 

 February:

    My dear counterpart celebrated her birthday in top Azeri style, with Corak, Veggies, Mayo Salad and enough sweets to make you cry (though, thank God, minus the gut burning vodka) and I was surprised to realize (like when you unexpectedly find a 20USD stuffed in an old pair of jeans) that we are somehow, in spite of my cultural stumbling, true friends.  I can say that like weddings, birthday parties are excellent but in small doses, there in a limit to the amount of Plov (uber buttery rice dish) that an American can consume, however, it was worth it to finally know that I was accepted by a certain group of people.

 

There was the infamous sickness that produced 2 days of projectile vomit and set new records for the amount of times a person (me) has puked in a 2 hour taxi ride-this is noteworthy in that thus far is the most miserable I have felt in AZ, and the only time when I seriously thought about going back to MN.  When I arrived at the house, I was on the verge of collapse, but was forced into the only heated room, pushed into a painful chair and expected to smile as I sipped hot tea while the ex-host family divided their attention between watching a overly melodramatic Turkish soap that thought the 80’s was still ‘IN!” and watching me, as I with an increasingly pale face, tried to limit my response to their queries with head nods or ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ as I feared that opening my mouth for any longer period of time would produce catastrophic fireworks of rubbish to fly everywhere.  At surprisingly consistent 15 min. intervals, I would jump out of my chair and tell them I would be back in a minute, and fast walking to my room would dispose of whatever my body hated, which at this point was everything and I calculated that if this continued, it would be a mere 2 hours until I died from puking.  I learned my lesson the hard way that I couldn’t actually tell the host family what was truly bothering me, even though I possessed the language skills to do so-in the first month in a horrid misunderstanding/confusing juxtaposition of words, I indicated to my host mother that I was pregnant [!!!!]only to set off a 2 hour long firestorm from hell and me trying to prevent my host mom from calling the local doctor-it wasn’t until later I learned that in ISM we don’t say “my tummy hurts” (which is what I’d said) because that means we’re pregnant[!!!]–and there after I ever only had allergies and my stomach problems were seemingly cured. (I would like the opinion of other PCV’s in this matter as I’m not sure if this is simply an ISM thing or one of those important pieces of information told to us during PST when more than likely my brain had slipped into a coma like state from the 42celcius heat?)  The point is that thankfully, my host family was already convinced that I was a blithering idiot, and always had the TV on ear splitting levels, so seemingly spastic trips to my bedroom were just an extension of my continually odd behavior-such as running at 6am, brushing my teeth more than once a day and taking my tea without the normal 6 tablespoons of sugar-after an hour display of supreme strength, discipline, and cunning, I had paid my dues to politeness and stumbled off to my room where I curled in the fetal position on my floor and tried to teleport myself to a non-third world country with proper bathrooms and friends who were a phone call away.

 

Additionally, I added the delightful (not) task of teaching English to my schedule and did my best to assist my sitemate in imparting the joys of speaking a civilized language to a room of ADD addled children.  Actually, I was scared s—tless, (standing in front of a group of people, regardless of age/size/intelligence is right up there with getting wisdom teeth pulled on my list of non favorite things to do) but prevailed, and now the kinds love me, my reputation points have increased by at least 10 (putting my total at around 30) and call me Misses Colleen-which makes me giggle for a reason I cant quite explain.

 

There was also, an astounding guesting experience that illustrated the wonderful way that life is always odd and unpredictable.  One cold night I found myself whisked into a Azeri style condo and given a light meal (which in itself is remarkable given the usual guesting fare which is hearty, greasy and not for those watching their figure) and then basically told by the women who was my host that she wanted to adopt me as her second daughter.  The benefits of being her daughter, she explained, included the following: servants,(who I had mistaken as family members and said hello to as I walked in) a car (actually a SUV-which I had the option of either driving myself or letting a driver cart me around), the run of the house (since she was a business women and was usually away and I could choose my own room), the total use of the big screen TV with cable (which had the benefit of a Turkish MTV channel!), and a flat screen computer (with internet hookup-ok it was dial up but I would be able to surf in the comfort of an over stuffed couch) There really was no catch other than I would have to teach her English. Hummmm, I pondered this arrangement for an adequate time; all of that at my fingertips, the ability to be warm, well fed, lazy, taken care of and driven around; one day depressed since there hasn’t been electricity for 4 days and the next with my own room and servants and AzeriCentral Heat…and then I politely declined, a decision I regretted one hour later when I was back in the house with no heat/electricity/water/privacy and thoroughly fed up with being treated like a child and facing 2 more months of seething irritation.  Oh well.

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