Of Plastic Pickle Jars and Lack of Sarcasm

February 24, 2009

(Written first week of January ‘09)

                  Baku and Ismailli froze over last week, resulting in a 2 night stay on the Peace Corps Lounge floor, sink bathing and sharing the awfulness of my bad ipod mix with Tim so we could sleep.  When I returned a few days ago, of course my water pump had frozen, it’s hoped sometime in April it will unthaw itself and function marginally.  For the past 4 days I have been hauling water from the yard up to my 3rd floor flat.  Apparently there is some technique to filling a plastic pickle jar with water and carrying it that I have yet to master, since, my obvious hilarious actions have provided endless amusement to the entire manzill block; evidenced in no less than 6 ladies watching me each morning.  2 days ago, after about 40 min of carrying water, (with an audience) I reached the last landing a bit tired and out of breath, a 20lb jug of water in each hand, to be greeted by my neighbor (for the record: I occasionally like her), who looked at me with a smile and asked ‘So, are you carrying water?’  I only paused long enough to tell her of course I WASN’T carrying water and then kicked my door open with my foot.  But it wasn’t over yet.  Next, the little girls were sent down to inquire as to the price of my pickle jars and exactly where I’d purchased them. (90% of the Manzill hauls water in the exact same jars)  Why price/location matters at all is beyond me, but it completely exasperated my patience, when, as a last little dig the girls asked ‘WHY’ I’d brought the jars and ‘WHY’ I was hauling water.  Too bad Azeri language doesn’t allow for ANY sort of sarcasm, so I had to settle for running off a stream of beastly sarcastic answers in English, (‘Because I get my kicks from hauling water and really have no use for it, since I’m obviously NOT human and survive completely water-less, its how we do it in Americastan, and why don’t your mothers get their asses down her as ask me themselves[I was bit perturbed} since its CLEARLY such a big deal’), and dropping of a few strong Azeri words, loud enough for the girls mothers, (who were trying to slyly listen at open windows) to know I was thoroughly not pleased with the current line of questioning.  Flashing my nicest smile, I told the girls and their mothers ‘THANK YOU’ and huffed my way back up the stairs with 2 more water jugs.



4 Responses to “Of Plastic Pickle Jars and Lack of Sarcasm”

  1. misterwrite said

    I get the feeling you’re not going to sign up for another two years…
    Also, your post makes me wonder how common sarcasm is in other languages. Or did English speaking peoples invent it?

  2. zap said

    Maybe they know something about the pump’s demise.

  3. mcmacdonald said

    MW: I’ve wondered also. I think its culture/language combination that allows/discourages sarcasm. I can say “I’m not human and dont need water” in Azeri but it wouldnt be funny at all and would only convince the kiddies I truly was batty. The Azeri humor is beyond me (and seems to focus on the dramitic/epic/folktales) and involves an understanding/history with a culture/people that I lack given my short 2 years here. In traveling a bit, I think humor is one of the most difficult things to understand in a new culture/language.

  4. mcmacdonald said

    Z: ALL the pipes/pumps in my town were frozen at the time, so everyone (including all of the block) was hauling water for nearly 2 weeks. In fairness to my neighboors, they are mostly nice, just unrelentingly curious.

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