Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Host Family

As I mentioned before my host family is great. And yes, I do have electricity and run water! The electricity goes out occasionally, but it usually comes back on relatively quick. I have two host siblings, a 15 year old sister and an 11 year old brother. My sister loves the English language and wants to constantly speak to me in English. However, she is always willing to help me study my Azeri when I ask. Monday the 29th was the last day of Ramadan and my host mother cooked a big feast of traditional food for the end of fasting. (My host father fasted, however my mother and siblings did not. We ate Monday night dinner after dark as a family.) We had plov (a rice pilaf type dish) as the main course. Tuesday was the national holiday of Ramadan (which meant no school for me, but Azerbaijani students had Monday – Wednesday off) and my host mother made another traditional dish called firni. (I watched her make it and the ingredients are milk, rice flower, and sugar. She stirred it continually on the stove until it was thickened and then placed it in dishes to cool. Each plate is sprinkled with cinnamon in either the first initial of your name or a decorative pattern. Each family member gets their initial on a plate, including me!)

A bit of information about my host family: my host mother is a house wife and my host father is a chief at restaurant in Sumgayit (which is where all of us AZ6 will be living during PST). The houses here are best described as family compounds. Our house has two levels: my family lives in the top house and underneath us live two of my host father’s sisters and his mother. Some of our cousins leave next door (I have only met them a few times, so I don’t know exact details of that family).

So, the bathroom. Firstly, let me just start off with the most devastating thing that has happened to me (I also think it is safe to say it will be the most devastating thing all of my time here!): bathroom talk is strictly taboo! Those of you who know me well know that this is by far my favorite subject (you can ask any of my Y business office ladies this!) Needless to say I am distraught that I will not be able to discuss this with any Azerbaijani people. All this does have a point, so just bear with me. The bathroom at my host family’s house is really nice. We have a western toilet (but the flushing does not work, we pour water in a bucket and dump it down the bowl to flush. I learned after a few days that is the force of the pouring, not the quantity of water that ensures proper flushing). The shower is the sink – let me explain. The entire bathroom is the shower (meaning the floor has a drain in it and I just stand in the room to wash.) I had my first (and only shower thus far) on Wednesday. The bathroom sink is a shower head that a lot of kitchen sinks have in America. You can pull the head out and press the top to make it a spray or just one flow of water. I had plenty of water and warm water so I have no complaints. (I think the hot water has to be turned on first and then it takes a while for it to heat up. I am pretty sure my family has a shower day once a week, but I haven’t exactly figured that out yet.) Okay, back to the toilet. The first day I was here I went to use the toilet and immediately came back out and asked ‘where was the toilet paper?’ My host sister told me ‘No, toilet paper, water’ and pointed to a container that looks like a watering container for plants. Well, I can’t lie, I was warned about this. A lot of Azerbaijani people don’t use toilet paper, instead they clean themselves with water – kind of like a be-day (I have no idea how to spell this so I am writing the phonetic spelling) toilet. Azeri people will have either a hose or water can type thing in the bathroom for cleaning. I understand the concept of the hose, but not the watering can. And since bathroom subjects are taboo, I have no one to ask to explain it to me, much less ask for a demonstration. I am all up for trying new things, but I have no idea how to go about this one so the next day when I got my cell phone I picked up two packages of toilet paper. I brought it home and my host mom asked why I bought it, I tried to explain that I don’t know how to use the toilet without it, I am not sure if she understood. But, I do have a spot for keeping my TP in the bathroom, so all is well!

Okay so the pictures got out of order – sorry!


The living room

Standing in the back of the living room and the 3 bedroom doors (mine is the farthest on the left)

My room

My host family

My Street (looking to the right out of our gate)

The entrance to our house

I live in the top house (the brown door in the upper right)

Our Kitchen and eating area (to right as I walk in)

The bathroom and entrance to the other part of the house (to the left as we walk in)


The Biambys said...

What are those pictures on your bed?

Nicole Wilson said...

so fun. the photo tour is great - and the tp story is hilarious. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing all the pictures, it really helps us see where you are! Love your stories and look forward to more, we sure love and miss you here!

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with Nicole - the tp story is funny. Are you allowed to flush it down the toilet? I know some countries don't want you to do that - you simply put it in the trash can! I am def a bathroom topic girl too!