Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pat's Son

3 October 2009

Hmmm…I guess with yesterday being my Dad’s birthday, this entry has more relevance.

First off, I’m sorry to have taken such a long hiatus from my web log. If I had a good excuse, I’d give it, but I don’t, so I’ll just keep typing and hope you forgive me.

I think I might’ve touched on the importance of family around here. Not that it isn’t important where I’m from, but something happened the other day that made me smile. Let me break it down to you.

It’s become my custom to hitchhike back and forth from Qumlaq to town. That’s proven to be the easiest mode of transportation. Typically if I’m walking down the road, waving at each car that goes by, somebody picks me up pretty quickly. Sometimes I gotta pay them; sometimes I don’t. It just depends on the driver. You may question the safety of hitchhiking, but I can assure you it’s less dangerous than crossing the river on the way to town that, since the rains of last spring, became considerably more “raging”. Besides falling one time and getting my pants wet, I resorted a few times to crossing that damn river by means of a gas pipe. It scared the heck out of me, so much that I decided to figure something else out. Hitchhiking was the answer.

So, anyway, one day I caught a ride on the last leg to Qumlaq with a good friend of mine. We happily greeted each other, and I was curious to see unfamiliar faces in the car. Not that I know everybody in town, but I suspected a full car heading into the village during the end of Ramadan probably meant relatives were visiting from out of town. The man in the front seat next to my friend looked quite “grandpa-ish”, and he was wondering who I was. My friend tried to tell him I was John from the States, but that didn’t register. After trying to explain who I was, my friend finally asked me, “What’s your dad’s name?” I said, “Pat,” and he told the man, “Alright, this is John. He’s Pat’s son.” Eventually, grandpa got the picture…I think…maybe.

Anywho, that’s pretty nifty, eh? Being known by who your dad is. And that’s how it works around here. In a tightly knit community like this, where so much is passed down from parents to children, it’s no surprise people are known that way. You don’t easily escape your family, and with good reason. Most everyone in Qumlaq wakes up in the morning and works the same land their parents worked. There isn’t much moving around, if any. What many have is what’s been given to them, and when that’s the case, who your dad is matters.

And, of course, if you’re off doing your thing, whether you’re American or Azerbaijani, there’s probably something that reminds you of Mom and Dad, something that sticks with you. Yeah, my friend has called me “Pat’s son” since that day, and it works. It suits me fine.

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