So every week I set simple goals for myself to achieve, making it easier for me to mark progress at site. These goals can range from talking with my counterpart about a new project to making sure to shower (this is a goal I try to set for more than once a week, but alas, sometimes it isn’t that easy to achieve). My goals for this week were to set up yet another English Conversation Club, but for the English teachers and a few bank employees for the town, get my phone fixed and get a haircut. OH, and to try and not throw a hissy fit at the kids staying at my house, they are THIS CLOSE to getting a smackdown. Good thing I am a patient person (Jess stop laughing, I AM a patient person, really). Seems like easy goals, but here, everything is just a little more difficult.
Surprisingly, getting my hair cut was the easiest. I asked for a straight cut (because that is basically all I know how to say in hair-styling speak) and the young woman started to cut my hair. During this process, two other girls walked into the “salon” (a one-room store with four chairs and one blow dryer) and were commenting on my hair without knowing that I could understand what they were saying. They asked why I was getting my hair cut straight. The stylist said that’s how I said I wanted it and the girls apparently disagreed with my choice. These women had hairstyles that probably took them an hour every morning to get ready. Without a blow-dryer and time, a straight cut is fine with me. Anyways, they then proceded to say the liked the color of my hair, and I piped up and thanked them for the compliment. They seemed a little embarrassed, but were nice about it. I ended up compromising and letting the girl cut angles around my face (miming what I wanted), which didn’t come out too bad and only cost two manat (about $2.60). Great success!
Starting up the conversation club was a little more troublesome, but I think it will be a success. The English teachers here need to practice their conversational skills, and this is a great way to do it. The better they speak English, the better the kids will speak English. Hopefully, this will also provide a great kickback for my sitemate Kate and I in the form of English speaking friends within the community. There aren’t too many English speakers here, and although our Azeri is good, we still get lost in translation A LOT. People must think we are crazy. I want you all to go out on your next work day and go through the whole day not explaining yourself once. Let’s see what people think of you. It makes it even worse here that everyone has to know where we are going and what we are doing at all times. I leave the house and my family asks where I am going, and all I am doing is going to the bathroom. A girl can’t even go to the outhouse in peace! Anyways, sorry for the tangent. I encountered few obstacles in setting up the club, which makes me wonder if anyone is going to show up at all. The only problem is that Kate and I were debating days to do the club, and I cannot remember for the life of me which day I told the teachers to come. I guess I will just go to both days and see what happens. I feel like here it’s the best laid plans of mice and men, they never go smoothly. We shall see next week.
A big obstacle I encountered this week was fixing my phone. This was a mystery to me, because to most Azeri’s, their phone is their life. I went to one store, explained the problem, and it seemed that they knew what was wrong, but they said the tools to fix it weren’t there. I asked where I should go to get it fixed, they said “here”. This totally confused me, because they had just said they couldn’t fix it, so I said thank you and left to maybe return later if I could not find a better option. The only other phone store was down the street, so I took a trip down there. They seemed to know what the problem was, but the guy who fixes the phones was at home (in the middle of the work day) and would return at 3p.m. So, after my conversation club, I returned at 3:45 p.m., and there were three new guys at the counter, and they seemed stumped about my problem. One of them seemed more nervous about the fact I did not speak Russian than he did about my phone. After about four attempts of me speaking to him in Azeri and him responding in Russian and me saying “I Don’t understand Russian, I am American”, I gave up on talking to him and only talked to the guy who would speak to me in Azeri. He actually took out an English conversation book and half listened to me while he tried to find “I am sorry, we can’t help you now” in the book, which to his surprise, I knew in Azeri. So obviously, the guy who fixes the phones was not there and I was asked to return the next day at 11a.m. So the next day I went to the store again, the guy who fixes the phones proceeded to take apart my phone while “tsk”-ing that I had broken my phone. I endured this for 5 minutes, then he told me he could not fix my phone. So I was sold a ghetto electronic doohickey that charges my battery outside the phone. At least my phone works now, and I had a great feeling of accomplishment doing this all by myself in Azerbaijani.
As for the kids, I was having one of those days today where I was in a bad mood, and just didn’t want to even be cheered up. I was okay with staying upset and the littlest thing set me off. I had to walk around the block a few times because I just didn’t want to go home to face the screaming kids. The kids at soccer were especially rude to me and I just couldn’t face home. I got home and there they were, screaming, and me almost crying because I didn’t want to deal with someone else’s misbehaving kids. I didn’t want to call anyone to talk because if I had I would have burst out into tears, and they would not have stopped. Then my whole host family would have been all over me asking why I was crying, trying to comfort me, and I did not want that. I was feeling sorry for myself sitting in an easy chair, knitting and listening to my IPod, and one of the kids came up and took a bud out of my ear. He proceeded to start dancing, and the other kid came over and took the other bud out and danced too. I went to my room and grabbed my portable speakers and came out and played “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé for them and we had a dance party in the middle of the living room. I sang and taught the kids how to twirl a girl, and my host sisters couldn’t correct my dancing because this was MY music, even though I am not a good dancer. I just sang and danced and twirled to American music with the kids for about an hour. My bad mood completely disappeared. So it turned out that the kids I didn’t want to even go home and see were the cure to my bad mood. Go figure.
Next week my goals include starting a girls’ volleyball team, starting the conversation club that I set up this week, going to see a few new buildings in town and maybe a shower or two in there. Hopefullly.