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>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rumor has it that my site mates family wants some pictures and more blog posts. Well here you go, and it's all about him!

I went to Jason's village to celebrate his birthday which also happened to be the same day as the second week of the Novruz celebration aka Novruz çərşənbə (chair-sh-en-beh).
However my journey begins at the Police Station. I needed to pick up our Azerbaijani Resident ID Cards. The Cheif of Police has a son studying in Missouri. He's hilarious, he knows a few phrases and uses them quite often. Then he speaks about his son and how he wants to go to America to visit. He seems like a very nice man and when he looked at Jason's ID and realized that it was his birthday got all excited and made me promise to tell Jason that he said Happy Birthday. Super fun. Then I needed to find cheese. There's a certain kind of cheese that many Azerbaijani households have in surplus but I really don't like it. It tastes like muddy cow and is super salty. So I needed to find gouda, which I don't know if i's actual gouda, but that's what it says on the packing. I can usually find a smaller packet but in this super awesome store I found it by the kilo! I almost bought way too much but I reeled myself in and ended up leaving with the right amount for two pizzas. I hopped on the maşrutka to Jason's village which was, as usual, packed. About 15 minutes down the road a seat next to a cute xanım opened and I took it. We said polite hellos and then she screwed up her face and asked me if I smelt something. Sure enough it smelt of burning rubber. A few people near us got the drivers attention but he said he wasn't stopping. People protested and the second time he said no, the drivers side front tire shot off into the woods on the side of the road and the bus definitely came to a scarping stop. Now I was half way to Jason, but I saw some of his students walking to the village so I joined them. One of his kids told the others that I was Jason's sister and I was visiting for his birthday. It was awesome! Jason and I had just started telling people we were siblings and here was one of his students doing it for me, great! Anyways, through some random talking and about an hour walk I ended up at Jason's house.

We made pizza, and by we, I mean I grated cheese and let Jason do his thing. It went over pretty well, however we didn't put any meat on it and that was the only suggestion from his hAunt. Since this was a holiday there was also plov (pilaf), and dolma (ground up meat wrapped in grape leaves). Very good and traditional. Vagif, Jason's hDad, was as always hilarious and kept us all preoccupied, conversation flowing. We even saw some Tovuz PCV's on TV at a ceremony for students who have done very well learning English. Now Jason and I will have to top them, we're going to get on TV by doing something even more awesome, because we're super cool. Then it was cake time. Jason's cake was delicious as is his hMom's usual. However taste had nothing to do with the awesomeness of this cake. My counterpart had purchased an exploding candle for his cake, and Jason's hFam arranged other candles to spell HAPPY BRITHDAY. We didn't say anything because the spelling was so cute. We sang the Birthday song in English and Azeri then Jason blew out the candles, cut the cake, and his hMom fed him the first bite. He received some pretty sweet presents, a picture his hCousin drew, cologne, etc. Then we headed out to the road where the fire had been built. We jumped the fire and I was pleasantly suprised at how easily Jason gave into his neighbors peer pressure and danced around with him. By far, one of my favorite parts of the evening. We ended up back in his house talking for a while, around 2 am Jason and Turan (hBro) jumped in the pool. It was supposed to be a secret but Turan told. Oh well, it was pretty epic. Great birthday, even though he doesn't want to be 23, you know too old.

Picture #1: Jason's Happy Brithday Cake, don't take the spelling for granted.

Picture #2: Birthday Boy with his cake!

Picture #3: The exploding candle, it never gets old. Too bad this one didn't sing. Just in case yo were wondering, it was made in China.

Picture #4: Cutting the cake with a ribbon wrapped around the knife, all fancy like.

Picture #5: Jason's host mom feeding him the first bite.

Picture #6: Best gift ever! Men for Men cologne. I'm still waiting for him to wear it, no dice. You should all send him emails forcing him to wear it.

Picture #7: Jason attempting to be super cool and throw the pizza. Too bad it didn't work, I thought he looked pretty cool throwing it.

Picture #8: The fire we jumped later on in the night, NOVRUZ!

Finally the video, This is us all sitting down to eat the birthday/Novruz feast. Jason's hDad is hilarious and obsessed with videos on his camera and this is a typical product of that obsession.


Novruz Bayramınız Mübarək!

This is my feeble attempt at explaining Novruz. Just know it's super epic and awesome.
Novruz (pronounced: no-vr-ooze) is the one ridiculously huge holiday in Azerbaijan. This holiday is celebrated the four weeks preceding March 20th. The first week began on Tuesday, February 23rd. It celebrates the four elements: water, fire, earth, and air. Each Tuesday marks the beginning of each elements week. Best part is you get to jump over fire! Every Tuesday you eat Dolma (meat and veggies wrapped in cabbage) and Plov (pilaf), and jump over a fire! Depending on who you're doing it with you can jump 1, 3, or 7 times. The purpose of jumping is to leave all negative/bad feelings in the fire. So if someone doesn't like you or wishes ill upon you, jump over that dang fire and ba-da-bing ba-da-bang IT'S GONE!
I think it's cool, but even better is when the actual Novruz comes about. You color eggs like in Easter. Dress up like in Halloween and the kids leave a hat or basket on your doorstep, knock on the door and hide, and you fill their hat/basket with money/chocolate/fruit. Then you close the door and they move along to the enxt house. It's a combo of ding-dong-ditch and trick-or-treating. In my city all of the 11th form (11th grade/final year of school) kids do it.
It's a truly ridiculous holiday and I can't wait for it! Water, Fire and Wind Weeks are over, up next Earth! I kind of feel like I should be in Captain Planet, good show. Hopefully as the craziness ensues I will be updating you all on the happenings.

If I haven't explained this sufficiently or you're just super into learning all of the reasons/meanings behind these traditions go here: http://www.bakupages.com/pages/traditions/novruz_en.php
That will hopefully give you all of the information you can possibly need.

The pictures above are some illustrations of the aweosmeness that is Novruz!
#1 The woman is dancing in a traditional Azerbaijani outfit and that plant held above her head must be placed on the tables. Apparently it's really cool.

#2 The fire dancing is obviously the coolest, and somewhat self explanitory.

#3 The boys peering around the corner are doing the treak-or-treating part and getting food.

#4 This is the video of the celebration in what can only be described as Qax's town square.

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