Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reverse Culture Shock

Can it really be called reverse culture shock if I'm in a foriegn country and shocked by the western civilized world? I think so.

Since I've been in Tajikistan I've learned to do a lot and do without a lot. I learned to cook, albeit not very well, and not gourmet dishes, but I have to cook for myself since there aren't exactly restaurants I can comfortably sit in alone and there probably is take out here but I'd probably have to bring my own bowl. Anyway, during the winter things weren't so easy. I learned what rutabagas are and have cooked some and what beets look like before they're jarred and sent to my favorite Publix supermarket. I've learned how to make cowboy coffee, too, and, honestly, it's BETTER than brewed coffee or french pressed coffee. I've learned how to bake without brown sugar and have things turn out just as well as if I'd used brown sugar. I haven't used measuring cups and I can't say that I've looked for any, but I certainly haven't seen any either. The supermarkets here don't exactly have housewares in them. A few do, but most don't. I mean, the cash register of a supermarket is a man or woman with a calculator and the money is stored in a drawer that isn't organized by bills and the coins are in a tupperware-ish container on the counter. After living in these conditions for 6 months (and worse in Gharm, there weren't even calculators!!) I've become adjusted to the simple life and doing without.

Last weekend another ELF from Dushanbe visited me and brought measuring cups for me. I had written something on FB about making making peanut butter cookies without measuring the ingredients and they turned out realy well. Another American friend of ours saw that, felt sorry for me, and sent measuring cups with the ELF. When I got them I was like "Wow! I forgot these existed!!" I had been measuring by just looking in the bowl and judging whether to add more sugar, another egg, more flour, etc. I wasn't complaining about not using measuring cups but when I received them I was in shock. My ELF friend and I baked cookies over the weekend and it was time to put the measuring cups to use. I actually found myself not being able to use them. I've been using random other items in my kitchen to measure everything and I wasn't sure if it would be the same. I'll have to learn to use measuring cups again and that's a SHOCK to me! And it doesn't stop there.

Today my landlady brought me a washing machine. I've been in Tajikistan since August 27, 2009 and have been hand washing my clothes this entire time. I've been doing it for so long that I actually don't always mind it. I was excited and disappointed at the same time that I had a washing machine. Sometimes it's a pain to hand wash my clothes, but it's a chance for me to zone out, listen to music, and feel productive. Then again, I'm tired all the time and already have to cook more than I've ever had to cook in my life, even if I want a snack I need to cook, and I work a lot, and do a lot of work outside of work, so taking the washing off my hands will make my life easier. It's not exactly a fully automatic washing machine though. I still have to put buckets of hot water in if I want hot water, then I put the clothes into the spinner, then I have put them back into the other bin to rinse and then back into the other bin to spin again, and them for some reason my landlady said I have to rinse AGAIN and then put them back into the spinner. It makes me tired just thinking about all the moving and transferring and watching and waiting. For the amount of attention I have to give the washing machine I might as well be burning some calories hand washing the clothes! One downside is that now I can see my landlady wanting to come over and wash her clothes! She already comes over to wash her hair when she doesn't have water in her apartment and today she told me that she ate some of my bread and butter. What am I going to do when I go back to America and have everything done for me by machines and I don't have to worry about a Russian lady coming and washing her hair in my bathroom and eating my food? The answer is: RELAX!!!! and re-find my Americanness. :-)