Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday in Crimea
This is a link to view the photos I put on facebook. You don’t have to part of facebook, at least that is what it says. Let me know if it doesn’t work.
Monday morning, about 6am, waiting for my hot water to heat up so I can take a shower. I have a small wall mounted electric hot water heater, so when I want hot water I plug it in, and wait—to get it really hot takes a couple of hours, so I settle with a warm shower unless I wake up early and go in the kitchen and plug it in. While avoiding stepping on any slugs, of course. They do continue to appear several times a week, depending on how much rain we have had. Just one usually, and I can see their tracks on the dark rugs in the kitchen so even if I can’t find them, I know they have been there. I’ve gotten use to it now, but if I ever have any guests, they might be grossed out. (Just a little warning)
Wanted to get my thoughts down from last week before a new week begins. Spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Crimean Tatar Library as I always do. Most of my time there right now is spent on the internet doing grant research. I am finding it very tiring to be sitting in front of a computer all day, so I take frequent breaks and walk around the neighborhood of the library. At the end of the day on Monday and Tuesday, Eskender, a 18-year-old kid who I tutor in English, comes over. We spent last week going to computer stores—he has been helping me figure out how to have internet at home. I bought a 10-ft long USB cable and now I hang my modem out the window when I want good enough reception to do skype. Tried it on Saturday and it worked great. Not sure what I will do come winter, but at least I know I can skype. The rest of the time I hang it from the curtain rod up high and close to the window, and that gives me enough reception to email and internet surf.
Tuesday I tried going to the Crimean Tatar Art Museum with Zarema from the library. It is in an old building and was closed, because they were changing exhibits. It looks like it is just a couple of rooms, which is not untypical of museums here.
Monday evening I ended up chatting with a bunch of young girls in front of my house-friends of Sophye from across the street. They were great—all wanted to practice their English and giggled a lot. Then I had chai (tea) with the family, which turned out to be french fries and watermelon. “Come and have chai” can mean anything, obviously.
Thursday is my day at the children’s library. In the morning I have my English Club which this week consisted of about 6 kids and two adults. The kids are 3 teenagers, ages 13-15, and 3 boys, ages 10-12. It is a challenge for me, to say the least, but I seem to muddle my way through. However, I did just find out that they really want me to do two groups starting in September—one for teenagers and the other for little kids. Yikes! I’m becoming a teacher! What do I do??? What I do is spend a lot of time on the internet research ESL games, mostly, and hoping it works. Sometimes it does, sometimes not….And there is a woman at the library I have really enjoyed trying to talk with—she is very enthusiastic and wants to learn English, so I usually have tea break with her. This week I found out she is into fitness and teaches a fitness class, so maybe I will go to it (in my spare time).
I spent all Thursday evening working on the grant proposal for one of the artists that was due on Friday. I finally got the last bit of info from him Thursday afternoon. We communicate via email using translation programs and also text messaging on our cell phones in Russian. I have gotten very into text messaging here as it is a cheap way to contact people. I would text some of you, but most of you probably wouldn’t know how to respond! (Except for those of you with teenagers). The grant proposal was for the European Culture Foundation in Amsterdam. The proposal is for an Illustrated alphabet book and CD of the Crimean Tatar language. Crimean Tatar is one of the languages considered endangered by UNESCO, mainly as a result of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 and the prohibitions against their language and culture. So even though all the adult Crimean Tatars that I have met speak the language, often the kids don’t, as is the case of Sirdar and Sophye across the street. I think the book is a wonderful project idea, and I know Enver will do a beautiful job with it. He did a Crimean Tatar folktale storybook a few years ago, and it is quite lovely. Now the task is just convincing a funder somewhere of the merit of the project. If anyone reading this has any ideas, please let me know. We are also looking for funding for a Crimean Tatar folk music festival.
I did not do a whole lot on the weekend it seems like, but maybe that isn’t quite true. My trip to the beach on Saturday got cancelled, which was disappointing, but it was rainy and they probably would have decided not to go anyhow. Friday I went over to the apartment of one of the women from the library for a traditional Crimean Tatar meal—very yummy. Nadzhye and I are always talking about (well, she is always talking about) opening a Tatar restaurant in America somewhere.
Fatma’s apartment (which she owns I think) was really nice. It is on the top floor (5th with no elevator—the highest a building can be built without having an elevator) in a newer version of the concrete Soviet high rises. She said she waited 15 years for the apartment, and Nadzhye says she has been on a waiting list for 11 years. I’m not sure what that is all about. I think it might be something to do with them being Crimean Tatars and returning to this land from Uzbekistan, but I don’t really know. Nadzhye did tell me she only makes the equivalent of $150 a month at the library, where she has worked fulltime for 20 years! Obviously, she couldn’t afford an apartment on that. I know incomes are very low here, because that is about what we get paid in the Peace Corps, and it is supposed to match the local incomes. But how hard it must be to live on that, and there certainly are some wealthy people here, too, given the cars you see and some of the stores. I’m sure I will learn more about the economic situation as time goes on, and hopefully I can understand some of the talk around me.
Rest of the weekend I spent doing chores—laundry, shopping at the bazaar, cooking some food for the week, going on a 2-hour hike (whoops, guess that isn’t a chore). Sunday evening I was suppose to have a meeting with the other artist and an interpreter, but of course it turned into dinner at his house, and then watching some music awards show where they were all rooting for a Crimean Tatar singer (who won—hooray!). We didn’t actually talk much about the project, which was good because even though the interpreter is this sweet woman, she really couldn’t speak English very well. I’ll just have to continue to work my way through the proposal, trying to figure out what he wants to say.
Getting a bit tired of writing and you are probably getting tired of my rambling. Lots of dogs barking tonight (I’m finishing this in the evening), and Neshet across the street is still working on his building project even though it is dark. And Maya just brought over a hunk of arboos (watermelon), so goodbye for now from Crimea and love to you all.

1 comment:

  1. Barb, you know Amy Blumenthal teaches ESL. Maybe she'd have some suggestions for you: