Friday, November 30, 2012

A Different Perspective

On the surface my life in Azerbaijan seems pretty normal.  Or maybe I just have a different perspective, now that I have been here more than a year. 

   The gas situation a couple of weeks ago really made that clear to me.
 Mid week I  discovered there was no gas.  Turn on the stove, light the match, hoping to cook something for lunch.. and nothing.  So much for my dreams of hot soup, or at least a cup of hot tea.  No heat to take the edge off of a chilly day. Instead of trying to figure out why a gas rich country can’t supply enough gas to its residents, I got out the bread and cheese.  I was pleased with myself that I had  a shower a few hours earlier when there was gas in the pipe to heat the water.

Day 2- no gas.  My coffee craving was off the charts, but I figured fruit always makes a good breakfast,  and I was glad I had just gone to the bazar.   I had bought everything I needed, because for the previous four days I  couldn’t  buy anything.   There was no money in the ATM machine, which meant no cash for me, or anyone else.  In this cash only economy, no cash means no shopping.   I was thanking my lucky stars  that I had peanut butter in the frig.

Day 2 - Dinner time, no gas, no problem.  I knew there was a reason I saved that last bit of beef jerky.  Some tangerines, a cookie, and I was good to go.  Who needs to cook?  Although the idea of a hot meal was appealing on such a cold rainy day.

Day 3- no gas.  I must admit I was trying to figure out where to get a hot cup of tea, if not coffee.  Then I remembered my recently acquired oven. My site mate whose service just ended gave it to me.  I didn’t use the oven to make coffee, but  later, I poured my soup into a large baking pan and “baked” it  until it was steaming.  Not the most energy efficient cooking I’ve done, but I finally got  something hot. 

Day 4- A flicker of gas.  Enough to heat water to boiling in about half an hour.  I am getting tired of bread and cheese, and I’ve even had enough pomegranates.  After meeting with a school director, I find myself temptingly close to my favorite hardware store.  I spot the answer to my problems on display outside.  It’s called a “gas balloon.”  A squat, round propane tank, with a burner mounted on the top.  I can’t resist.  When the store owner shows me there’s even a little gas inside, I splurge and bring it home, thinking now I will be in charge of my own destiny, or at least my ability to cook.  I fire it up, and the water is boiling in no time. 

 The next day I wanted to fill it up, so I wouldn’t run out of gas during some culinary extravaganza.   All I needed was more money from my account for the taxi  to the propane place, and of course some cash for the gas.   Not so fast..  the ATM was out of cash…… again.  No cash=no gas. 

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