Ok, so I thought I should quickly get another post up here to give you a more lighthearted update on what’s going on with me. If you don’t want to read about the book I just finished, I suggest you skip down about five paragraphs.
I finished reading Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. I had been meaning to read that book for a long time and was glad I finally did. Agree with him or not it’s a very factual book and should be read by everyone. I enjoyed it even if I did get lost twice as to what he was really talking about. He’s one of those political science authors that starts you off with a question, takes you through about 40 years of history and examples and then gets back around to answering the original question. While informative and very enlightening, it’s hard to follow at times.
One of my favorite passages was during his brief coverage of the 2000 election and it’s relation to the overall “trend” of democracy. He has written another book specifically about that “Wreck on the Highway of Democracy” (to borrow from my own college thesis paper title).
“What remains of democracy is largely the right to choose among commodities. Business leaders have long explained the need to impose on the population a ‘philosophy of futility’ and ‘lack of purpose in life,’ to ‘concentrate human attention on the more superficial things that comprise much of fashionable consumption.’ Deluged by such propaganda from infancy, people may then accept their meaningless and subordinate lives and forget ridiculous ideas about managing their own affairs. They abandon their fate to corporate managers and the PR industry and, in the political realm, to the self-described ‘intelligent minorities’ who serve and administer power.
From this perspective, conventional in the elite opinion, the November 2000 election did not reveal a flaw of US democracy, but rather its triumph. And, generalizing, it is fair to hail the triumph of democracy throughout the hemisphere, and elsewhere, even though the populations do not see it that way.”
Does that sound familiar to any of you living in the US? I’ve been scared to death of our population’s apathy for years now and it seems to be growing rather than shrinking. However the new administration administers its policies its biggest challenge will be actually attempting to listen to a population that may no longer have the ability to speak for themselves, only consume and then complain. Corporations and corporate interest run America, not the American people. The newest generation is what Chomsky was mostly talking about; mine included. (Propaganda from infancy) They believe that we are a country fighting terrorism and have no idea that we are the largest state sponsor of terrorism in world history. See: Cuba, Nicaragua, West Africa, Bosnia, The Philippines, Panama, Turkey Iraq, Iran, and Israel.
Anyway, I’ll get off that subject before I write my own book of opinions and complaints. The next book I picked up randomly is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. (Completely different subject matter but hey, in the Peace Corps you read what you can get your hands on.) I had forgotten that I had actually seen this movie. But, I’m enjoying the book so far at the halfway point. No real lessons to be learned from this one aside from living in sexually liberated Western Europe must be far better than the orgasm free zone of Southeastern Europe. Also the indoor toilets must be nice. I’ve forgotten what a flushing even sounds like already. But I digress again…
Had my first teacher’s meeting on Tuesday. Wow, no wonder the kids don’t sit still in class and listen. You should see what happens when the entire staff of teachers gets together and tries to have a meeting. Three languages of chatting all while the director is trying to explain salary, class schedules and registration issues. But, they all seemed happy to see me. I don’t think anyone explained to them that I was a volunteer and that I would be working there with them for free for two years. They all seemed utterly confused by why I was there. But, the questions followed the logical sequence here:
2. Where are you from?
3. What state? (They ask this because if you’re from NY or CA then it’s good, otherwise, they’ve never heard of it.)
4. How old are you?
5. Are you married?
This is where the questioning stops, because when I respond with no, they immediately start talking to each other about potential matches and come back a few minutes later with, ‘So you may get married here then?’ I hate to disappoint them with my NO response, but they are a persistent bunch. It’s so funny because whenever I meet a group of women here these same five questions pop up within the first five minutes. I need to print up a T-shirt that has all the answers in all three languages and just wear it around all the time. The back could say: ‘If you can read this… No means No.’
Other than that there isn’t much going on. After being busy as hell for 9 weeks during PST I feel like I’m just sitting on my butt doing nothing. It has given me time to read through most of the 10,000 sheets of paper the PC gave me concerning safety and security and now I can fill out all the forms that they need regarding my site. I guess I can hire a carrier pidgin to get them to the office since one of the options of sending it was by fax. Hahahaha. The local hospital here doesn’t even have a phone and there isn’t a landline phone in my village aside from the school’s. No, seriously I’m going into Tbilisi on the 8th of September to pick up my residence card and they said I have 2 packages waiting for me as well. So that’s exciting. I know one is from mom and the other is one that my dad sent me back on July 6th. Two months to get from Atlanta to me. In KZ I could get a package in 10-14 days and it had to make a 2-day train ride from the capital. The Georgian postal system sucks! The explanation I got was, everyone has a cell phone, why would you need to send a letter. Yeah, and everyone eats a ton of oil, so why would you have indoor toilets? Digressing again…
Food is a drop off from PST I can tell you that. Although the other night I did have some fried chicken. The difference here is they just cut it up as well as they can and then fry it all. And by all I mean all. My last piece was the neck. I went through a short internal dialogue before I ate it that went something like this: Ok, neck meat is good when cooking things, fried chicken is good, fried neck meat must be good. It was sort of like an A+B=C situation. It wasn’t that bad actually, but I don’t recommend it if you’re not into working for a little bite of meat. It certainly wasn’t like the reward of crab legs. Mmm… crab. Other than chicken our main source of meat is lamb. Boiled lamb and again every part of said lamb. I went for a walk the other day and rounded the corner just in time to see our local butcher kill a sheep. On my way back the thing was already cut and hanging up for sale. I think you’re process for selecting fresh meat is whether the blood on the ground outside is still fresh. Seems logical to me. I always know what’s for dinner by smell. Or like the other morning when I came down for breakfast and was greeted by three chicken heads laying on the ground on the way to the toilet. Good morning Muganlo! Are you grossed out yet? Don’t be. This is life on the other side of the world. There is always something being washed, burned, cut, killed, harvested or put away for winter.
Oh! I do get satellite TV here as well. Don’t get too pumped though. The satellite is pointed at Azerbaijan so we get those channels. I do get Baghdad TV though and my one English channel is Aljezera International. So I do get to watch the news once a day. At least I won’t be in complete news darkness; however I doubt they’ll be playing Georgia Bulldog football games on there. Thank you to Patrick for sending me baseball updates by the way!
I guess I should wrap this up since the Internet here most likely won’t be able to handle this large post. I’m going to try and post 3 pictures for you. One is of the group of friends here in Muganlo and the other two are eco-friendly ideas for around your house. If you ever need to hang some cable or wire outside why not try sheep horns? Or if you need a good garden border and like to drink wine, try wine bottles. All you need to do is dig a small hole and invert the bottle. For the rednecks out there, please remove the Budweiser label before replicating this with beer bottles.