Saturday, August 14, 2010

so where is he?

After Enver Hoxha, the former communist dictator of Albania, died in 1985, he was buried in a special cemetery "at the foot of mother Albania." The country was still under the communist regime and as a result, he received a very elaborate burial and memorial to his death. Well some years after the fall of communism, his body was exhumed and he was buried somewhere else. A couple of days ago, Teuta asked me if I knew where he was and after realizing that neither of us knew, we decided to go out on an adventure to find him. And so we did. And where is he? In Sharre, a small village right outside of Tirana with one of the biggest cemeteries I've seen in my life. And where was he inside the cemetery? Right with everyone else buried there, nothing elaborate at all. We found his grave and it had plastic flowers on top and around it. So there must be people that still mourn his death - this has added yet another shiny ball for me to probe.

So yep, I was kinda surprised but then again maybe people have decided that there's no need for a special burial for Enver Hoxha at all. Maybe some have thought that other things should have been done with his body. Teuta and I have both decided that we need to find out more.

**Of course this adventure of trying to find the former dictator's body included way more details than I'm writing here, including climbing hills through the cemetery, finding bunkers, and a crazy experience on a bus that concluded with a man sliding 5 meters on the sidewalk on his stomach. But due to the fact that some family members read this blog and would probably be REALLY concerned if I revealed the true details of this mission, I've decided to omit them. You can email me if you really wanna know!

Albanian expressions and sayings

This summer I informed my teacher that I wanted to learn more about Albanian expressions and proverbs. A few days later she arrived to our lesson with a list of expressions and then after that, she just started teaching me all kinds of things, stuff people say to congratulate on honors, or old expressions from her grandmother, Albanian proverbs, you name it. I've really enjoyed learning these all summer and in fact, whenever I'm with a group of Albanians they all get a kick outta me saying these things. This however can be bad at times when I'm with a family and they want me to keep saying things over and over again, almost puppet-like (the following are literal translations by the way, I'll explain) :

Albanian family: Chelsi, Chelsi what have you learned in your lessons?
Me: Oh we've been studying grammar, I've been reading the newspaper, and oh, Albanian expressions
Albanian family (very excitedly): Oh oh, tell us what you've learned
Me: Ummm, okay, "Don't fly with leeks up your but"
Albanian family: (laughing hysterically) ahhh hahahahaha, another one another
Me: Don't put off today's work until tomorrow because you can do it even the day after tomorrow
Albanian family: wooo hoo, woww, another, another
Me: I don't eat soap for cheese.
Albanian family: ahhhhh hahha, where do you get these? Another, another
Me: Do you think you're special, you make red eggs or something?
Albanian family: hahahaha

And this game can go on for hours. Now the thing is, as I said I really do enjoy learning expressions, sayings, etc, so now I'm writing below some of my other favorites, with the Albanian and English together.

- "Mos bie nga Kina" which means, "don't come from China." The meaning is somehow tied to, don't go all the way around the world when trying to explain something - in other words, be direct.

- "Kali kuqe ka nje huqe" which means, "even the red horse has it's flaw." The meaning is that even the pretty girl, nice girl has at least one flaw. One of the women from my language school has instructed me to say this to my Albanian female friends that smoke

- "Mos shit pordhe" which means, "don't sale farts" - you can say this to someone who is being a know-it-all or someone who thinks that he or she is all that

- Albanians love it when I say, "Per mua, shqipja eshte buke e djath" which means, for me, "Albanian language is like bread and cheese." English speakers would say, "like bread and butter." This is a big lie, but people laugh when I say it.

- "Te bashkohet toke me qiellen, ti nuk do te paguash per kafe!" I often have to say this to my friends when I'm trying to pay for coffee and put my foot down, the meaning is, "Even if the earth and sky were to meet, you cannot pay for this coffee!" Yep, paying for coffee can get this dramatic.

- "Djali pa vellai eshte si zog pa krah" which means, "A boy without a brother is like a bird without a wing." This is just a saying that I find intriguing

- "Bej syte kater" which means, "Make four eyes." My teacher likes to tell this to me, it means, be careful! I think we in the States would talk about eyes in the back of our head but here, it's just better to make four eyes

back but soon heading out

Hey y'all, took a break for a while. Did some traveling, some chilling out and been having those last few coffees before heading out on Monday, at which point I'm back in the States. The summer's gone by really fast and I can't say that I'm exactly ready to begin classes again in the fall, but I can say that I'm excited about getting back to Austin and eating queso.
Anyhow, I've decided to post a few things since I've been gone for a while - these are just some things that I've been thinking about, starting with hugs. In my experience Albanians do not really hug people as much as they kiss them. Kissing here is very important, and you must know who you're supposed to greet with a kiss (versus a handshake), when it's time to give a 2-cheek kiss, versus a 4-cheek kiss, or even a 3-cheek kiss if you're in Kosovë (warning, could be confusing if you're expected the 4th and the other person isn't!). There have even been times when I watched someone kiss another person 8 or so times on the side of the road as we waited for her to board the furgon. I thought that since they kissed 8 times she must be headed out for a long long journey but I learned that she was just going away for the week! One time a woman that I didn't know just came up to me in the rruge, greeted me with a good morning, and kissed me twice as though we had been old friends - that was just her way of saying hi.
Anyhow, I digress, the point is you must learn the rules of kissing once you arrive. Well I've always thought that Americans, well let me say Mississippians, are really big on hugs. Handshakes too, but hugs, I mean we give long, solid hugs but rarely outside of family members do people exchange kisses. Going back to Albanians, some people hug when they give kisses but for the most part, hugs are not as important - that is until you run across those few people who like to give the kind of embrace that puts you in a choke hold. I wrote all of that just to share this picture below - just trust me, this man had a grip!