30 March 2009
Can’t say I wasn’t a bit perturbed about this piece of news, merely a day after my arrival back at site near the end of the Novruz holiday. I had been hanging out with friends in various places in Azerbaijan, enjoying the two weeks of “tətil” (vacation) that we had. I got back to my host family’s on Saturday, and I was looking forward to a relaxing day in which I could plan for the week and enjoy my newly arrived issue of The Christian Science Monitor. I was lying in bed at about seven o’clock Sunday morning, and I got up to ask Firuz if he could turn the volume down in the T.V. in the dining room.
He responded, “You’re not going to school?”
“Yes, school. There’s class, class.”
“Well, there was vacation, and now we’re having class today.”
“But it’s Sunday.”
“Yes, it was a holiday. There’s class today.”
This little piece of news wasn’t taken with a whole lotta gratitude, if you can imagine such a response. I was mystified and, well, pissed off. To my own criticism, Charlie had informed me the night before, “They’re making me go to class tomorrow!” At that time, I thought, “Surely they must be mistaken.”
Well, that morning, with me still in my sleeping clothes with no lesson plans, the joke was on me. I headed out the door in a hurry and met Mrs. Adilə for class. It really wasn’t a bad day, as it was Friday’s schedule, which is just two eighth form classes. I tried to find out, though, from my counterpart, why we were having class on Sunday, and I got the same “It was a holiday” response.
What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Is this to say that, because we had a two week holiday, we have to make up for it by having an extra day of class, on freaking Sunday?!
Now, I’m no stranger to different cultures. I can deal with stuff. I’m okay with the A.T.M. crowd. I like tea. I can live with not crossing my legs when I sit down or not putting my hands in my pockets when I walk around, but school on Sunday is pushing the limit. Not only was it an unpleasant surprise, but it also got my days turned around. It made Sunday feel like Monday, and today, being the actual Monday, I approached some students to talk about English club today, and they responded, “You mean Tuesday?” “Aaaggghhh!” I thought, “What the heck day is it?!”
Oh, well, what can I do? This work can’t be on my own terms. Heck, if I was a teacher in the States, I’d have to attend those mysterious “teacher-in-service” days while the students ran free. This is just another reality of what I’m doing, and I’m cool with that.