2011nji täze ýylyňyz gutly bolsun!   2 comments

Wishing you a happy 2011th New Year!
In case you haven’t heard, MTC – the all powerful phone network – has been shut down in Turkmenistan. My despair was complete the moment I realized that my own phone had stopped working. And about all those texts I thought I had successfully sent: not one of them had gone through. This explains the devastating lack of replies. At 9 pm that Monday – the twentieth – I finally tried to make a call. All I got was, “Service Unavailable.” I had lost my chance, and I responded to this by shrieking, “WHY?!” in every language I could think of. The housekeeper just stared at me, bemused. Then she said, “MTC işlenok.” MTC doesn’t work. I wanted to throw my sleek LG against the wall, blue heart charm and all. I didn’t.
I know the housekeeper was upset, too. She had to be.
Everyone’s still upset. My host father told me today, “Many businesses can’t do their work because MTC doesn’t work. So, everybody’s just dancing and singing!” He waved his arms in mock dance, tea in hand, motioned toward the celebratory program on TV. I have never seen him so animated. Good joke, sir.
At least it’s the New Year, and I suspect that no one works much this time of year anyway.
Ah, the New Year! To quote someone else (I don’t know who said it first), New Year in Turkmenistan looks a lot like Christmas threw up all over everything. Oh, the garish garlands and lights that smother the New Year’s tree – it’s a beautiful thing! Really. No, they don’t celebrate Christmas, but what they do, they do with pizzazz. The city is bustling: out-of-towners, people in masquerade and animal costume. The buses come more seldom and more packed. There are several places in the city where the street has been blocked off for the assemblage of a tree (using real tree branches) of Dr. Seuss proportions. There will be song singing and hand holding when the time comes – a little “Welcome Christmas,” perhaps? Even now, the children chant the name of Aýyz Baba, Father Frost. We’re all waiting for him to come in his red robes, with gifts for one and all!
Santa Clause already came and left. He gave us volunteers an abundance of Christmas cheer, though there were some minor setbacks. We did find some space for dancing even though all the disco techs were closed. We did sneak into each other’s hotel rooms for a bit of socializing after the city curfew – despite the angry lady guarding each floor, fighting us off with words. “You are a naughty girl!” she said to me in Russian, then, in English, “Do you want to sleep in the street?”
The biggest Christmas miracle of all, though, was that all the volunteers did make it back to the city. Some came later than others, as the Ministry of Education in Mary Weleýat requested that its volunteers not leave their sites until the 24th. So, while everyone else was arriving early Thursday morning, the Marydaky volunteers didn’t make it in till Friday afternoon. It wouldn’t have been Christmas at all if everyone wasn’t there. We all had to share site and travel frustrations, oranges and chocolate from the bazaar, order-in Baghdad Pizza, the contents of each care package received. So, this is Christmas.
It’s just too bad that since bringing back MTC wasn’t one of this year’s Christmas miracles (thanks, Santa), there was no way to keep track of one another.
Now we are all back at site again, celebrating the latter part of the season with our communities. I tried to get into the spirit of things at school today, brought my guitar to fourth form for some English holiday songs. They ate it up. Then they couldn’t focus on the rest of the lesson – a simple holiday vocabulary lesson. But then, my teaching counterpart couldn’t focus either. She didn’t stay in the room, though I generally rely on her language skills for classroom management. No matter. Immediately following, I made my way to the fifth form’s New Year recitation. The lot of them stood on the stage in their finest dress, ornamented with foil garlands. One student stared at the ceiling as she rushed through her part in English, “Happy New Year to you happy New Year to you these things I wish I do.” Each student did the same with his piece in Russian, Turkmen or English. Meanwhile, the music teacher sat at the piano behind a door, leaning back, straining to hear her cue. She was invariably early. No one minded. They all joined in a resounding chorus of shouts, mostly devoid of melody. There was the boy in front, his eyes closed who meant each and every New Year wish he sang. There was the boy in back swaying about, poking the kid next to him, smiling at any attention he received from the audience. Each one of them were talking out of turn. It seems that a good elementary school performance is the same everywhere you go.
Afterward, after I complimented the teachers on all their hard work, the assistant director pulled the boys aside. He scolded them. He wanted to know how they could behave in such a way, and in front of a foreigner, too! One of my other teaching counterparts said she was going to spend the next hour’s lesson yelling at them, too. I left her to it.
There’s a rumor that tomorrow Aýyz Baba will make an appearance at school. A tenth form girl has volunteered to suit up. I’ve volunteered to wrap in garlands and make an appearance myself. There’s a rumor that MTC will be up and working tomorrow, too. We’ll see if Aýyz Baba has more miracles to spare than Santa Clause did.

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Posted December 29, 2010 by turkmenlaura in Uncategorized

2 responses to “2011nji täze ýylyňyz gutly bolsun!

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  1. Yes, most programs in Elementary school produce the same results.
    Love it.
    Love you!

  2. I hope Father New Year brings back your phones…Miss & love you!

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