Thursday, April 29, 2010

Man on the Run

Imagine for one moment that a young man left his family and all that he knew to venture off to a foreign land, better known as Azerbaijan. Little did he know what would be waiting for him. Little did he know that a brown eyed beauty would sweep over the landscape that was his life like a tornado. Little did he know that this tornado was about 120 pounds of sheer craziness.

So, we will leave this boy (and girl) nameless for mystery sake, but we will tell you that this young man is a friend of ours and a fellow volunteer. Derek and I are conjoining our writing efforts on this very special (and entertaining) edition of our life here in the ‘Zerb.

Our friend, let’s call him Jack, lives in a small village here in Az. He fell in love with his Azeri tutor, let’s call her Jill, after a month or so of lessons. Dear Jack is an easy-going, fun loving, and always very interesting guy.

Stories of this nature, no, sagas of this nature cannot be told with a simple introduction, body, and conclusion. To tell the story of Jack in Azerbaijan is not a beginning to end story. If it were, the narrator would be sure to forget things like; Jill breaking her foot after jumping out of a window to run away with him, or about the time he had all of his money stolen out from underneath his nose, due to his mistake of keeping his pin number with his bankcard. It is examples like these that one would retreat to in a moment desperately in need of comic relief, that would otherwise be unappreciated or overlooked had they been inserted in a body of a story.

Back to said story: So Jack loves Jill. Why not get married, right? Naturally. What do you gotta do to get married in Az? Run away for a few days, duh. Let’s not let the cat out of the back too early, though. We were not clued into any of these things until yesterday when Derek got a phone call from a man on the run: Fugitive Jack.

D: Hey, man. How’s it goin?

J: Uh, yah. Good. You guys got your own place now, right?

D: Uh, yah. We do. What’s up?

J: Well I’m kinda in a pickle. We’re on the run.

D: “We”? Who’s after you?

J: Everyone. We need a place to stay.

D: (laughing nervously) Well, we might be going out of town tomorrow, but let me call you back in the morning.

J: No, I’ll call you.

D: …Ok, are you safe?

J: Yah, yah…they’re just really mad. Ok, call ya tomorrow.

Next morning: Jack calls early (we’re still sleeping). Derek tells him we need a few minutes to wake up, call back in a few. Thirty minutes later, Derek gives him the go ahead to come on over. When Derek asks where they are, Jack responds with, “I have no idea. I think we’re close to Sabirabad.” Meanwhile, we know absolutely nothing about what he’s in and what we might have gotten ourselves into.

Around lunchtime, Jack gets into town with Jill. They come over, have some lunch, and Jack proceeds to fill us in on his interesting past three days. Apparently this wasn’t their first time running, which they casually told us by explaining why her foot was sore. You see, she broke it while jumping out of a window trying to escape her father while Jack was hiding in her cousin’s closet.

After getting the basic low-down if you will, we sat and got to know a little about Jill. They really are cute, the two of them. The language barrier…wow, what to say. Jack’s English sounds more like an Azeri’s now. On more than one occasion he said something to the effect of, “I told you, say him” or “Speak her now!” Awesome, really. He also asked me to translate between the two of them. He asked me to translate between he and his fiancĂ©e and he was serious. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

I think it should also be noted that while we are writing this, Jill and Jack came to our bedroom door and knocked. Jack wanted us to know that Jill accidently erased all of the pictures on our camera and she’s sorry. So, now you know that we came to our room immediately (while they’re still here, even) and began writing this fantastic story.

Later this evening, Jack gets a call from his host family. Apparently they want to speak to Jill. Jack is frantically trying to get his host mother to hold on, speaking his broken Azeri until he finally comes out and tells her “Jill is in the toilet”. This is even funnier knowing that any talk of the “toilet” is olmas or completely embarrassing here. Gotta love Jack.

So one minute they’re talking about how many kids they want to have and the next Jack is saying things like, “Sure hope I don’t get kicked out next week.” Meanwhile Jill’s telling us that Jack wants to stay in Az forever. “Really?!?” we ask. “Sure,” Jack says with a grin and a wink that really says ‘No way’. Which brought a slap on the arm from Jill, saying, “Lie. Don’t say.”

When they don’t understand each other, they just speak louder. Jack get’s impatient, but then they’re both laughing about the whole thing a minute later. It’s unbelievable. They’re in a hurry to get married before Jill is married off to the boy her parents have chosen for her. When we show any concern about her family being upset she smiles and assures us that everything will be fine, that is why they run away. Apparently this is some kind of custom?

Maybe someday they’ll tell their grandchildren this same story and laugh about it. You might shoot up a prayer or two for Jack and Jill. Both Derek and I gave the advice that we felt obliged to give, and are now being supportive. They are determined.

Here’s to Jack and Jill. A true American-Azerbaijani love story. Just a day in the life, folks, just a day in the life.


  1. Beautiful story well written.


  2. Perhaps one of the best PC stories I've ever read? We had a lot of crazy stuff happen in Bulgaria, but nothing quite like that... Be sure to keep us posted on what happens next!

  3. that is so classic. love you guys!

  4. I am interested in watching this unfold...

  5. you know, being married to an Azerbaijani myself, it makes it seem so much more simple to just cut out that whole big engagement process, the applying for a legal marriage certificate, and meeting the family... would have been waaaay easier I think. ;) When are you guys coming to Ganja to meet me and my husband?