Tuesday, April 28, 2009

problem solvers

let me explain this photo...i am inside a marshrutka on my way to Ganja, which is either the 3rd or 2nd largest city in Azerbaijan (depends on who you ask). Now, this is an extraordinarily ghetto marshrutka: it is missing a front wind shield.
For some reason, approximately half way through our ride the driver stops to remedy this problem. What does he do to fill the gaping whole that is the wind shield? He gets a cardboard box and a stick. And nope, cardboard boxes are indeed still opaque. So that thing in the picture is the front wind shield/cardboard box.

laundry: by hand

somehow i've made it this far without doing my laundry by hand. well, today was the day. and i hope it worked out. i'm not sure.
it is definitely a process. i hope to gain some arm muscles from it all. however, it was very gratifying to see my clothing hanging high up and on the line.
i was also shocked by how disgusting and brown the water was. yikes!

behold my chandelier

Saturday, April 25, 2009

school 3's green patrol

art contestant

earth day

on march 17th my sitemate cindy and I held an earth day event in a park close to my new apartment. many city officials and school children attended. basically, we distributed trash bags and gloves and then watched the magic happen. children and adults cleaned through out the park for approximately an hour. after an hour, all of our trash bags were filled and we re-convened for an earth day art contest. cindy and I baked chocolate chip cookies for the occasion, however i think mostly myself and my sitemates ate them all. mmmmmmm
i should mention that almost all of my sitemates helped cindy and I on this project and their help proved to be vital. also, mingechevir has adopted some other volunteers as honorary sitemates and at least one of them participated. all in all, the day was a success.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

hub nite at the cohen residence

I actually cooked all that food you are looking at. i know, it is shocking, but i cooked dinner for 8 people. certainly a first for me.
every wednesday night my sitemates and i get together for dinner. this picture is from my first hosting experience.
lately, i've been enjoying life in mingechevir with my sitemates quite a lot. they are a very sweet, supportive, and fun group of people. i'm really lucky. afterall, we even did some bumper cars together...what could beat that?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

kitchen shot one

no, i didn't place a picture of a pretty lady in my oven. someone else did...and i haven't even opened it up yet. and, yeah...that drying rack was already slanted. i didn't knock it to the side for effect.

clash tastic 2: the blueberry room

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

az apt

this is my temporary roommate, andrea, in what i like to call the blueberry room. there is a second bed.
no...not so pretty. but functional. you are looking at something called a kalonka: it heats up water. most homes have a gas lit one, but mine is electric. usually, this is too expensive, but i've got an IDP apt, which means some of my electric is paid for by the government....ahem.

more of me home

this is the room that was initially locked away, but now i sleep in it...and in true alexis fashion, you can my jeans an wallet carefully placed on the floor.
my hallway...front door is and the end of the hall on the left hand side. the two doors straight ahead go into my toilet room and the other to my hamam (shower room)

my clash mc tastic living room

here is a close up of the famously clashing patterns...i have no idea who thought those three rugs went together.
from another angle: computer station

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

i live alone!

i moved out...i now live alone in a 3 room apartment. i'm not going to lie...the place isn't exactly classy. however, it will do. i have taken pictures and i plan on uploading them tomorrow. but first, i'll describe my situation:

i have one living room, one bedroom, and one room i like to call the blueberry room (it is overwhelming blue). the blueberry room is probably supposed to be the kitchen, however, the kitchen is on my balcony instead. this is a common scenario for azerbaijan. to clarify, my balcony is completely window-ed. so, it isn't like i'm cooking outside. but close. it isn't exactly properly closed in either. but oh well!
my bedroom was originally locked off. it is also common for azeri landlords to fill a room with storage, lock it, and prevent you from using it. luckily, my great friend/azeri teacher gulshan convinced the landlord to reconsider. now i sleep in this room...however, the bed is just about the only thing i'm allowed to touch. the funniest thing about the bed, however, is that it is too short for me...and i'm just shy of 5'5". the bed situation isn't so hot, but i was spoiled at my host family.
the living room is fine, but the clashing is amazing. i can't wait to upload pictures of it. the rugs on the wall clash with the rug on the couch which clashes with the rug on the wall. it is very azeri to "rug" the home.
i have internet access. HOORAY
the blueberry room seems to be the favorite of visitors...there is something comforting about it. it is small and next to the kitchen. and, as i mentioned, very blue. i don't sleep there because there is no door btw the blueberry room and the balcony (LOUD).
i have toilet room separate from the shower room. the water is heated electrically. not having the gas kalonka option is usually frowned upon because electricity is much more expensive. however, i'm in a gachgin apt (IDP/internally displaced person). This means that the government pays for a high portion of my electric use.
i'm on a 5th floor walk up, which i'm entirely used to bc of NYC. actually, the floors are shorter here, so it feels more like a nyc 4th floor walk up. could be better, could be worse. it is nice being on the top floor...i don't have as many neighbors. i'm also next to the largest mosque in mingechevir. i very much like my neighborhood...i'm close to my favorite park as well. in general, i'm the volunteer who is farthest away from the city center. but, again, this isn't a big city. everything is close by. i'm used to places that are far larger.

on to other things in life....

i'm busy these days. right now my sitemate andrea is living with me for a short bit. to make a long story short, her host family situation ended really badly...and at the same time, her apartment fell through. i like having a roommate right now, so it works out fine. i just hope she finds a good home.
we started softball season here, which is really fun. i like "work" being "playing softball". other things i'm involved with:
as a member of the environmental committee, i'm doing a lot of work for earth day...for the committee and for my site.
i started teaching a computer class to kids at the IDP school (again, internally displaced persons). A word on that: azerbaijan has one of the largest internal refugee populations in the world. This is due to the armenia-azerbaijan conflict. currently, they are in a stalemate and the sentiments are bitter. so, there are many azeri IDPs from formerly azeri, but now armenian lands who have been relocated all over the country. these people have a special status and sometimes they receive special funds from the government. sadly, many families live inside the schools. just about every school in azerbaijan has clothes lines hanging outside of it.
lastly, i'm working with a kid's environmental club.

so, as you can see, i'm not doing a lot of business oriented work. this is a shame. but, at the same time it's nice not to be working in an office.