Friday, January 30, 2009

Family Ties

In Azerbaijan, examining a family tree is like looking at a never-ending string of connecting dots. It kind of reminds me of being in south Louisiana where EVERYONE knows EVERYONE through some relative. My grandmother used to come grocery shopping with us in Lafayette, and she would start talking to people. Next thing we know, this person is a long lost relative or related to one of Momo’s neighbours. This is impressive because she only had 3 neighbours. I have relatives in Lafayette that I know I’m related to, but I don’t know how. (There are some MAJOR exceptions between family relations in Azerbaijan and Louisiana, but I’m going with the theme that everyone knows each other.)
Through my host family I’m ‘related’ to a fourth of the faculty at Mekteb 1. Considering the school’s faculty is fewer than 50 people, this is really not too hard to believe. As far as I know, I’m not related to any counterparts at Mekteb 1, but I am related to Vagif, my counterpart at the Internat. I lose track of how I’m related to most people in Lerik. I tend to default with they are somehow related to my host dad since he is from Lerik, and my host mom is from Bilesuvar. While most parents seem to have two or three children these days, my host parents always seem to come from families of four or more children.
I know that I have fallen into a spider’s web of relations, distant relations, and friendships here in Lerik, but I kind of like it. I don’t feel like a complete stranger here, but a guest who everyone knows. Like a spider’s silk, the seemingly tenuous and fragile connections I make here are much stronger than even I realize.