Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Women's Day

9 March 2010

Alright, anyone who calls this an "international" holiday has clearly never been to the United States, as I hadn’t ever heard of this holiday before coming here, though I must admit it’s on my Peanuts one a day calendar for March eighth. But when I mentioned it to Mom the other day, she also said she hadn’t heard of it, but it’s no big deal. It’s really just a day when the men and boys show some appreciation for the women in their lives, which is cool.

I mean, I just gotta go into some detail here, ‘cause it’s pretty darn cute, about what some of the people do. You kinna feel like you’re going back a few decades. Either that, or the childish giggling you hear from the ninth grade girls sorta makes them seem more like fifth graders, but it’s a different place, here in Azerbaijan, and that’s fine.

Anyway, what am I talking about here? Oh yeah, Women’s Day. Well, one thing I observed as I was drinking my coffee and reading the Monitor last Friday, were the boys from a ninth grade class coming into the back room of the snack bar, where people have their çay, and leaving tea, cake, and presents for the girls. After they left, the girls came in with a teacher and enjoyed what the boys had left. It was adorable. I sat down with them as they sipped from their glasses and laughed giddily at the little noise making stuffed animals their classmates gave them. Their amusement tickled me to death. I mean, I was talking with Mom on Sunday afternoon, and I wondered what it would’ve been like with ninth graders in the U.S. What would they have been doing? How would they celebrate this holiday? I’m not really sure. We have Mother’s Day, but that’s just for moms. How would a bunch of fifteen year olds at, say, Wimberley High School in Texas do this? I really don’t know, but it makes me think.

It’s also nice to see boys, girls, men, and women interacting in such a way in a culture where gender relations are different than in the United States. When I see them getting along like this, it reminds me that Azerbaijanis are people just like Americans or anybody else. The "rules" might be different, but a young man might still be nervous about giving a piece of cake to a classmate, or a girl might anxiously look at a little gift and think, "Oh, that boy’s cute. I wonder if he gave me this." Can you avoid thinking like that, really? I don’t think so. Heck, at twenty-four I even still feel like a teenager sometimes.

So as I finish up this short entry at 3:05 in the morning I still contemplate those emotions, those thoughts and feelings, that we all relate to, giving some legitimacy to every cheesy holiday that makes us go out of our routine to give a Valentine to the girl we like, stand under mistletoe with someone we know likes us, or leave tea, cake, and presents for girls that deserve some appreciation. I’m okay with that.

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