1 April 2009
Apartment update! Today my school director, Gültəkin, and I went to look at my future apartment. It is an older apartment and probably was built during the Soviet era. My gut is saying no as we walked into the place, but my head is saying just look around and see what Gültəkin thinks. Paint is chipping off the wall, I cannot locate a heater in the whole building, and the kitchen is an empty room with an electric burner. It’s on the first floor (I was hoping for second floor for security reasons). I am scared to think that this is my only option. When I look over at Gültəkin, she also looks uncomfortable; she leans to me and says, “There is another house I want you to look at.” OH THANK GOODNESS!
After another walk around, we head back down the mountain. Gültəkin says that she does not like that place, and she wants me to be comfortable. There is a house on the other side of town that we will look at. I’m hoping that this one is better. Because I honestly don’t think that apartment would be approved. I have limited options in this community, but I am being optimistic. Maybe this house will be better, and a house with a yard would be awesome.
But the day is not a complete downer. My birthday presents came in the mail today, and my mom is so smart. She wrapped all my presents so I couldn’t spoil my surprise too early. We’ll see how much self –control I have. I have already opened every birthday card that has come my way; cut me some slack, it was only two.
In the end, today is a beautiful day. The sun is out, and I’m happy that it’s April. I probably will not be able to move out on 11 April, but good people, who are kind and genuinely care about me, surround me. I could not ask for anything more.
2 April 2009
I have learned to be grateful for the little things in life. It’s a fun moment when you read a sign with no difficulty and later realize that the sign is completely in Azerbaijani. Some days I feel as if my language skills are progressing nicely, and, other days, I feel like an idiot. But I know we all have those moments out in the field.
Martin, my brother, sent me a book – via my parents – that he read in his intro to anthropology class. He thought I might enjoy it since I was an anthropology major. Entitled THE INNOCENT ANTHROPOLOGIST, I must admit I am very amused by the book. It’s so much fun to read about the author’s blunders as he goes about fieldwork. While I am not too far into the book, some of the author’s misfortunes remind me of my own follies at site.
I am mastering the idea of how to get something accomplished in Azerbaijan: persistence. Fortunately or unfortunately, not everyone schedules her/his time like Americans. I am enjoying the relaxed ambling nature my life now possesses. Sitting down with a neighbour for tea and chatting for hours is not unusual. No one is in a rush. Things will happen when they do. But no one is in a rush, and things will happen when they do. When I try to make a plan and a schedule, it always seems to fall apart. No one arrives on time, and, worse, now I’m not even arriving on time. It’s not that the idea of a schedule is foreign to Azerbaijanis, for school runs on a strict schedule. Rather, scheduling one’s life is a ridiculous concept.
Someone I went to college with told me that Peace Corps benefits the volunteer more than the community. I was dumbfounded by this assertion, but I find a grain in truth in this statement. The statement only reveals half of service’s purpose. Volunteers come to help their community; however, to think that a transformation only moves in a single direction is a foolish notion.