Madness of March Indeed: Novruz

April 27, 2010

Novruz landed in AZ with armies of pavlaka, gogal and sekelbura-formidable advisories of the health conscious, they launched their sugary, buttery goodness with precision, taking no prisoners; for the those lacking will power, they left a wake of calorie comas across the country. Having experienced the cooking/preparing/indulging last year-this season witnessed an epic influx of my favorite usual suspects from Baku and a few new partners in crime. Opening the door, I was greeted by no less than 9 Europeans. It was the largest concentration of non-American foreigners that Ismailli had ever seen-the reaction of ISM people was both surprisingly nice and laughably odd-take for instance B, who’s dreads were petted and fondled on numerous occasion by a enamored water at the TeaHouse-who, we guessed was thrown into confusion deciphering B’s gender and thought him to be a 6+ foot tall species of killer fembot. After returning from a short wander around the elegant town center of ISM, K wanted to know if I had taught the children the following phrases: ‘Ohhh, Myyyy, Gooooodddtt’, ‘Ello my name is!!!!!’ ‘Marry Me’ and ‘F*&% Youuuu!’. –as the sight of 6 foreigners had sent the young population of ISM into uncontrollable yelling spasms.

One day found the lot of us descending upon Nic to photograph the abandoned Christian churches and partake of pork kebabs-again, its certain that our entrance was epic-as we received no harassment only unmasked curiosity in the form of unwavering stares with people going out of their way to say hello (nicely) and ask if we needed help. One man, in charge with guarding a lovingly restored place of worship even went so far as to transport, in his tiny Lada, our 10+ packs to a resting area, allowing us to enjoy wandering around unencumbered. He refused payment, asking only that we give accurate accounts to the outside world of the history of Nic. The small market offered little else but frosty cold bubbly piva (luxury!); cans in hand, wandering down dirt roads in afternoon light, the elusive contentment of life was bit nearer. Taking over a roadside cafй, we settled in for a feast of pork kebab. I had heard tales previously (from the group of archeologists I had spent several days with in this region last fall) of the absolute superiority and medicinal power of the locally made Zoqal Vodka and indulged in a sizable bottle for the picnic. The group toasted several joyous rounds, the drink not disappointing and being quite honestly the best vodka I’ve had! Sedated and happy and with the assistance of a newly made friend, we found cars to drive us through the stunning glacier carved valley between Qabala/Oquz on the way to Mincivicher. This stretch of road is perhaps my favorite in Azerbaijan, on a clear day one can stand at the lowest point and see the foothills and higher Caucuses Mountains, a vista that even for those weary of landscape, is breathtaking. The little story of how I first visited this area with an archeological team will make its way to the blog eventually.

Energy draining, talking, tea drinking, frustrations, stress; characterized the countdown days to certain homelessness. Oh, there were options, yes. A xanim showed me her kitchen, and promised ‘you can sleep here whenever you want, when we are not eating, only 60AZN each month.’ It seemed irrelevant that said kitchen lacked a bed. A man showed me a shed whose previous occupants (I was sure) had been of the barnyard kind. The selling point was the shed possessed a telephone line. (Smart cows, yea?)

March ended one morning with my entire flat packed up and sitting near my door in 4 boxes, 2 small suitcases and a backpack. Moving house due to getting the boot is one of my least favorite pastimes-right up there with visiting the dentist, dancing at Toys and explaining why I don’t have babies. Later that day, I learned that, alas, my landlord, in a supreme display of chain yanking, had just decided to not kick me out-for now. I stood looking at the pile realizing that, while I had too much stuff, I was, at that very moment, living the clichй of all packed up and nowhere to go.

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