Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Different Kind of Classroom

So, as you know we have been working diligently on our language
skills, Jonelle is learning through the shopping arena, and I through
toasts. Toasts in Armenia are more like toasts at weddings that last
5-10 minutes each, and can be the soul purpose for getting together.
They are more conversations, and detailed remembrances of the past,
than general well wishing we typically think of as toast at casual
gatherings. People drink in groups here and empty their glasses at
the same time, and there is always something said, the length of which
greatly depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. By alcohol I mean
Vodka, is there any thing else? Supermarkets have complete isles
dedicated to vodka, and small grocery stores ALL have vodka if nothing
else, $2-$3 for cheep average stuff, and the prices just go up from
Glasses are fill almost immediately after they are emptied, A typical
toast would be, "This toast is for our (children, wives, relatives,
country, lives, etc)," then a further description of the topic,
clinking of glasses, then some one interrupting to either toast the
toaster, or tell some story. After which glasses are clinked together
again, and the toaster continues with his own story or commentary.
Finally, glasses are clinked again, and if the toaster is satisfied he
will drink followed by everyone else. Some major errors, all of which
I have made in the past, are drinking with out toasting, drinking
before the toast is actually finished, not drinking to a toast,
toasting before the senior member or host, swallowing improperly, not
finishing the entire shot, or not eating the customary bread sausage
or cheese immediately after the toast.
Toasts are generally hard for me to understand since they are
sketches of history that I am not always familiar with, compared to
practical conversations revolving around buying something, working on
a building project, or communicating some tangible piece of
information. I listen intently and try to make out as many words as
possible and weave together the meaning. As the toast wear on they
become simpler, and my comprehension improves, even before the end
when men are kissing each other and embracing. This along with broken
shot glasses, spilled bottles, and frequent calls from the wives,
usually signal the end of the evening.

1 comment:

Curious George said...

Between the ravages of playing basketball and vodka toasts, it seems your body will be toast when you come back to America.