My Host Family

Ceyranbatan Travel Blog

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Tamam's family

I very much enjoy my host family.  They are caring, wonderful people who are very tolerant of my weird American ways.  They make me feel a part of the family, even if that makes me the idiotic mute older brother.  However, as much as I think they are great, the truth is that I am just not used to living with a family.  Suddenly having two new little brothers, a little sister and a new mom and dad creates some odd dynamics and emotions that I am not used to feeling.  I guess I never really was a family oriented person even with my own family.  We would only get together occasionally, so I’m not at all used to being around people like this.

They gave me my own room, pushing the two brothers to room together.  Even then, I constantly feel surrounded by family.

Naciba and Agshun
  It is something I am definitely not used to, though I do appreciate the sacrifices they are making.

The father, Aqshin, is a taxi driver.  He leaves the house around 8 and comes home around 7, though it varies.  I am not sure if he is a traditional Azeri dad or more modern.  Sometimes I get the feeling that he is both.  Then again I am not at all sure what a traditional Azeri dad would act like.  He is kind and accommodating and helps me with the language (though sometimes he does get tired of me saying stuff poorly).

I recently found out that Tamam, the host mother, is a poet.  She actually has a book published.  She gave me a copy to take with me when I return to America (it comes complete with scribbles on a couple pages from her little girl).

From left to right: Alli, Erol and another guy whom I do not know
  She makes great food, is very nice, but doesn’t talk to me much.  I’m not sure if that is because she is female and that is bad or if it is just hard to talk to someone who won’t understand what you say anyways.

Ali is the 15 year old son.  He isn’t around much, so I don’t talk with him a lot.  Last I saw him he was being yelled at by his father for climbing on the roof, I think.  I saw him through my window and he smiled at me mid-ascent.  He is known for stealing the family car and disappearing for long periods of time.  Also, he is a crazy driver (and that is saying a lot here in Azerbaijan).

Erol is the more responsible, religious, 17 year old son.  He speaks a little bit of English, so we work on language most nights together.

Agshun and I
  He is the one who is always around to help out his parents, or to take the little girl somewhere.  He is the only member of the family who is a practicing Muslim (Shi?ite).  He is always willing to take me places and him and I have been to the Mosque and to some cities around the area.

Naciba is the crazy little 4 year old girl of the family.  The image of her trying to open a salt shaker with a huge, maniacal grin and a large serrated knife will be burned into my brain forever.  She is constantly cute, constantly annoying and constantly insane.  She loves to steal my glasses, steal my pens, steal my paper and always tries to sneak into my room.  On the first day I was living here I was outside washing my hands.  She decided to join me, and washed her hands too.  While I was drying my hands on a towel, she walked up to me and started drying her hands on my shirt.  She is insane and cute and I really need to try and get video of her wielding a knife again.

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I have no idea who these people are. It was at a family party and I liked the picture

10:15? Is that the 9:15 10:15 or the 11:15 10:15?  Oh, you must mean 11:15 minus 1 hour.

Telling the time in Azerbaijan makes almost no sense at all, and then when it does make sense it is still a bit confusing.  Normal people in normal languages say things like “1:30” when they mean 1:30.  The most confusing it gets in most languages is when you are trying to say 1:45 you have the option of saying “quarter till 2.”  In Azerbaijan, it isn’t so simple.

First of all, time is in military style when written down, but normal when said.  That is easy to deal with in most circumstances, assuming that you say time in a normal way.  It really gets weird when people tell you the time.  Let’s say it is 3:15, in Azerbaijani they say that it is 4:15.  Seriously!  In the language you would say “dordu on besh dagiga ishlayib,” where dord means 4, on besh means 15, dagig means minutes and ishlayib isn’t clear at all.  We decided to translate ishlayib to mean “minus one hour.”

So, for you all in regular time land, I’m writing this to you at 14:04, or 3:04 minus one hour.

Tamams family
Tamam's family
Naciba and Agshun
Naciba and Agshun
From left to right: Alli, Erol and…
From left to right: Alli, Erol an…
Agshun and I
Agshun and I
I have no idea who these people ar…
I have no idea who these people a…
Naciba pretending to be me
Naciba pretending to be me
photo by: cbstevens