A Miscellany of Bloggery

On the perils of fan dependence

Well, dear friends, the fairytale had to end sometime.  After a week of bliss, my fan broke again.  I moved it, normally, gently even, just a bit, and the part where the fan attaches to the stand kerplunked.  Then I turned it on, and it went slowly (on high speed), and so I tried lower speed, tightening the joint, etc., until I saw some smoke come out and I unplugged it.  I let it cool off and tried again but then I let it be.  Fortunately this week is supposed to be cooler, so it won’t be too bad.  Since I’m leaving so soon, I don’t want to trouble Rasim to fix it again.  I am, however, planning to give him cookies as a thank-you for fixing it (and for being interesting to talk to).  Soon, I’ll be back to my parents’ air conditioned house, and then to air conditioned Williamsburg... I don’t think I have much to complain about.  Thanks, Rasim. :-)

On the persistence of dust and dirt
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but there’s a school being constructed inside this same back section (it’s really hard to explain city plans of these places -- just know that the buildings you see on the outside don’t fill the blocks, so there’s all sorts of hidden buildings in what would otherwise be courtyards; my last flat in Moscow was actually about 10 minutes from the street you’d write to mail to me).  And it’s hot and there’s no air conditioning, so I’ve been debating dust.  If I were a proper Slovenian girl, I’d clean it up much more regularly, but grandma and mom both married non-Slovenes, so the dust is sitting on the ledge and gathering by the door (I do sweep, but not daily, as I’d guess probably most Azerbaijani women do).  

What I can’t figure out, however, is the bathroom floor.  The shower doesn’t get a special section, it just has a drain in the floor, so you’d think simply spraying the floor would direct dirt down the drain.  I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t work that way.  I’ve mopped a lot and cleaned the mop and used the clorox equivalent, but nothing doing.  I want to leave a clean apartment when I go, so I foresee some hands-and-knees scrubbing (also, I may indeed use both rolls of paper towel I bought - otherwise I think the dirt will just stay on there).  (Maybe I still have some Slovenian in me after all?)  I also have baking soda, and vinegar is cheap.  I’m beginning to resemble the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding -- I am increasingly thinking of vinegar like he thought of windex. Cleaning tips appreciated. :-)
On maybe having rid the place of ants for good
Every now and then some crumbs would drop and I’d miss them, and the ants have this one spot where the floor isn’t really closed, and they come up.  For the most part, I’ve just swept them up, put them in the trash, and doused them with vinegar (you may recall my contemplating death by gastrique for Herbert).  I’ve also splashed vinegar on the floor in hopes of deterring them from coming back.  But I may or may not have lost it when a whole bunch started occupying that section of the floor (probably because I think I got bitten by some ants while I was sleeping).  I didn’t even bother sweeping them - I just went at them with vinegar, but I’m running out, so I moved on to tile cleaner, which isn’t as effective as windex against them.  So finally, I gave them a really big dousing of the cleaner and poured salt all over them.  So... I haven’t seen any ants in a while, but I kept walking through the sand/cleaner powder, and I haven’t managed to pick everything up with the broom yet... oops... but no ants?  I think that’s textbook “qualified victory.”

On shopping while hungry when you’re heading home soon after a while abroad
Shopping while hungry is not a great idea, even in Baku where, compared to the States, food is pretty cheap (especially fresh produce and bread - they make great bread here).  I did actually plan to buy chocolate, both for myself and my thank-you cookies, but I probably wouldn’t have gotten the big bag of M&Ms.. also, I definitely grabbed a bag of doritos... I think I’ve had chips once here other than that..  in theory I was going to come home to cook -- um.. oops. :-)  At least I managed not to eat all the M&Ms, although I don’t deny chocoholism (I do deny that it’s a problem). ;-)  
On sharing cultural experiences
Most of the ladies who were trying to keep the Ramadan fast felt they couldn’t keep up with it, so it wasn’t just me, the assistant head (Z), and the translator (G) for ladies’ lunch anymore.  Like in Catholicism, if you can’t keep a fast because of work or health or something, it’s okay.  Ramadan moves, I think about 10 days each year, and I think it must be hardest in the summer, because you can only eat before sunrise or after sunset, which means before about 4:30am and around 10pm for a month, and no drinking during this period, either.  Unlike some countries, this isn’t institutionalized observance, so stores and restaurants remain open, which is good.  Z told me she had worked on a prior project with someone who worked somewhere in north Africa before I think and had basically had to fast because nothing was open except at night.  H, the only lady still keeping the fast (to my knowledge) has told me about meeting up with friends in the evening to break fast together, which sounds really nice.  I also found a YouTube cooking channel from a Moroccan woman where she shows amazing looking desserts and has a playlist of extra tasty things just for Ramadan. :-)  

Shortly before Ramadan began, I explained s’mores to the ladies, and H asked if it could happen.  But I didn’t realize at the time there was a time crunch, and it was only a few days before Ramadan, so I didn’t get it together in time.  I have, however, come up with a plan - I found a marshmallow recipe I think I can do, I’ll grab some biscuits and chocolate, and make little packs for them with instructions for when Ramadan is over (or earlier, for those not fasting).  I guess it’s a public holiday the two days after Ramadan (or maybe 4, but two are a weekend) -- I think a s’more would be a great way to relax. :-)  

All right, that’s it for now.