Tuesday, 2 December 2014

International любовь

Last weekend was a highly international experience, due to two occurrences: a ‘UN day’ at school and a joint birthday party. “What is a UN Day?” I hear you cry in desperation for information. Fear not, I shall tell you all about that, and I can also tell you what a birthday party is if you are not sure. Just ask me afterwards.

This is my 'birthday party' face.

There are children from a huge range of nationalities attending the school at which I work. This means that once a year, parents are invited to the school to take over a classroom, decorate it in the style of their country and generally share everything about their nationality. This year, the countries represented were Azerbaijan, Armenia, China, India, the UK, Poland, Russia, Pakistan, Palestine, Turkey, the USA and, of course, Uzbekistan. So I donned an Uzbek dress, kindly donated by a wonderful colleague and went into school on a Saturday, a popular choice of day to hold a work event.

Sorry, Rhiannon, you're in my blog. As is the traditional paper cup.

The grumbling about having to go to work on a Saturday soon stopped when I visited the busiest room: the canteen. There were tables and tables full of the most wonderful food I have ever eaten (a claim I seem to be repeating many times). There were pies, cakes, curries and horse. The only less-than-desirable offering was a forlorn-looking tray of fish and chips, representing our country’s national ‘delicacy’. Although, in fairness, ‘soggy’ and ‘disappointing’ create a rather accurate image of our country.

Kate and Wills dressed in wedding clothes, hailing a black cab while standing behind a big red bus: another entirely accurate image of our country.

The day ended with a raucous assembly. A huge number of people were squeezed into the school theatre for a dance show. The dances were incredible. We saw an incredibly bendy lady with a ribbon and a ball, some Polish and Russian dancers in milkmaid-like outfits, some Indian girls who seemed to dance for a good half hour (although time may have stretched due to an achey bum) and a large number of girls from Azerbaijan dressed in the most outrageous shade of green. Their dance was very popular and seemed to include a lot of screaming, which unnerved me slightly until I realised that it was part of the performance. I have been researching online to find out what this dance was called, if anyone has any idea, please let me know. All I have found out so far is that Azerbaijan has a lot of different dances.

All the dance-watching and eating really took it out of me, so I spent the afternoon asleep. As it turned out, so did most of the people I work with. When I talked about it to them in the evening, I really felt I’d been part of a major sleeping event. It just so happened that three of our friends had birthdays last week, so we all got together and went to the obvious choice of eatery in Tashkent: a Chinese restaurant.

The food was the best I’d had since lunchtime. I had a bowl of seaweed and beef and some beef… stuff. The atmosphere in restaurants in Uzbekistan is often quite different to how they are in the UK. They are often in huge rooms with long tables and an obligatory dance floor. Many times when we go out to eat, I feel as though I am at a wedding. Sometimes, they even have performances. Last week’s was the classic angel and devil in lingerie having a dance-off.

Can't remember who won, but it was intense.

Once we had finished the food and taken enough pictures of certain people losing their last dregs of dignity through the medium of dance, we broadened our international horizons even more by going to a German bar. When we got there, we suddenly realised that it was the same bar we had first eaten at on arrival in Tashkent. It was probably also where food stopped agreeing with me at the start of the year. In all honesty, though, it was fine, and the power only went out twice.

Oh, the romance of the smartphone torch.

This weekend has been a little less international and a little more sleep-filled, but hopefully I will have something totally interesting to tell you about next week. 

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