Friday, April 2, 2010
Spring is, indeed, really beginning to happen here in Crimea. Not only has my landlord dug up every square inch (millimeter here) of the back yard to plant his garden, he has also dug up new gardens in the front of my house and planted a row of bushes near my window which should be nice to block the western sun. The barrel where I put my trash seems to have disappeared, I discovered this morning. Maybe I will need to start burning my trash myself, which is how they dispense with their garbage, although I think Neshet and Lenura actually have some kind of garbage pickup.
Last Wednesday was Nadjie’s 57th birthday. I wasn’t working that day—Wednesday is the day I am at the Children’s Library—but I went over during the lunch hour and brought her a little present (an English phrasebook). She was in the office alone, so we sat and had coffee and talked. It’s been almost twenty years now since she left Uzbekistan. I asked her if she had regrets. She said no, because in Uzbekistan they were guests, but here they are home. When I got up to leave, I told her she was a good friend to me. And with tears in her eyes, she told me she had many friends in Uzbekistan, but here I was her only friend. I don’t think I really understood it correctly—at least I hope not, as I don’t want to think of Nadjie without friends—but the sentiment that I do think is true, is that she was saying how much she values my friendship. I gave her a big hug and left, trying not to cry. What a gift…
On the weekend, we had beautiful spring weather. Saturday I washed some clothes and hung them out on the line. In the afternoon, I went over to visit my friend, Zarema, who works at the library and lives in Ak Mechet. She is the woman who helped me a lot when I first got here—escorting me home on the bus, taking me to the Crimean Tatar theater and art museum. She is also the friend whose father died in November. I have always really liked her, but we seem to not have connected very much since those times. She did bring me some of her home canned food at New Year’s and I had a plan to come to her house on New Year’s Day, but got sick and had to cancel. But somehow this past week we made a plan, and I ended up at her house on Saturday afternoon and had a great time. Her “sister” (what Crimean Tatars call their cousins) came over because she wanted to meet me and “talk English.” I really hit it off with her, though she barely speaks English. But I felt like she was able to understand my Russian with some English thrown in. She is going to start coming to my Thursday English club at the Crimean Tatar university (Kipu). And then we all started talking (Zarema’s sister-in-law and mother—or maybe grandmother, not sure—all of whom live with Zarema were also there) about trying to have some kind of English club on the weekends at Ak Mechet. Where to meet always seems to be a concern. People seem reticent to meet in their homes, even though many of them have plenty of room. I brought up the idea of meeting in the mosque, using the example of how people have meetings in churches in America. They were reluctant, but then decided they would check it out. I, of course, forgot the fact that mosques have no chairs, as people kneel on the floor, so maybe not such a great idea after all. Serdar says there are meetings there, and they put out benches, so perhaps it is a possibility. We’ll see what develops. But I walked home from Zarema’s house feeling so good about reconnecting with her and resolving to keep that connection going.
That evening went over to Neshet and Lenura’s and ended up playing cards with Serdar and Neshet until practically midnight. I continue to be the “fool” when we play Duroc, I just can’t get the hang of the game. They were really laughing at me and giving me a hard time. Must be like Russian humor, which I also don’t usually get. But I didn’t mind, it was just so nice being with them.
Sunday dawned a beautiful day, and I was determined to get out for a walk, even though I had told one of my neighbor’s relatives that I would help her with a visa application to go to America. But she was okay with meeting later in the afternoon, so Elizabeth came out and we went over to see if Safie wanted to go with us. I knew Serdar was meeting with a teacher, so I thought perhaps Safie would go. We went for walks just the two of us a couple of times last summer, but lately I have felt like she isn’t around much. I have been noticing more and more how girls get sort of short changed here, but that is another topic, and this blog is already getting too long. So next time…
Anyhow, Safie did want to come and their little dog Nootsa tagged along, I think because she is so attached to Safie. She’s a sweet dog, and it was fun to have her with us, though she made me nervous on the roads near the buses. But then she just went crazy in the woods like any other dog. It was a joy to see. There were many beautiful, and unrecognizable to me, wildflowers blooming in the forests. We tramped through the forest up to a bluff I am not as familiar with. No one was up there, and despite the hazy day, the views were beautiful. We perched up there for a while and had some snacks, and then wondered around looking for flowers. Headed back down through the forest, took a short cut through the village at the base of the bluff and got some ice cream (three packaged cones for a total of 80 cents) and then headed on home.
The person I was helping with the visa application was already at my neighbor’s house, so I went on over there. It should have been an easy process, applying for a visa online, but thanks to the U.S. website which timed out after 20 minutes, it turned into a total pain in the butt and took us three hours to complete the application. I worry some about what she is doing, going to meet an American man she met on the internet, but she seems to have her head together about it and won’t, hopefully, be taken advantage of. Even though she has a lot of family here, she is desperate to go to America, though I’m not sure why. However, when I realized via the application that she only makes the equivalent of $100 a month being a software programmer, it became a little more clear.
Hmmm….this seems to be a very long winded blog post, so I will quit for now. I hope you enjoy the photos of Safie, flowers, and Nootsa. Tomorrow I have a day off because it is “cleaning day” at the library and Serdar and Safie are on spring break, so we might go hiking somewhere fun. Hooray!!
Much love to all.