Saturday, 18 May 2013

Why I am definitely, most certainly, not a cat person.


A long time ago, I was having a sleepover at my American expat girlfriend's flat in Baku. After a few  glasses of Baileys, cigarettes and chats about useless men, we decided to go to bed. 'Oh, can you put that turkey somewhere so the cats won't get it?' My friend asked sleepily as she got into bed.
She had a huge turkey specially delivered for the Thanksgiving party the following day. I went into the kitchen, picked up the huge box and shoved it on the top of the fridge.

The next morning, when we took the box down, there was a huge gaping hole in the turkey's chest.

The thing is, you see...i am not a cat person. I have always had dogs. And dogs don't go around jumping on top of fridges, carefully sneaking inside cardboard boxes, leaving no evidence except for a huge hole in the turkey's chest.

Dogs are not like that. And cats...well, my dislike of them was deepened by the traumatic experiences associated with the above mentioned American girlfriend and her desire to adopt every stray cat in Baku; which was okay until she moved to Turkey and got a wild thing who now spends every single day of his life attempting to kill her and every friend who dares to step into her flat in New York. Ironically, she chose to call the evil monster Ashgim, which in Turkish means My Lovely. Yeah, right.

And then, there are the endless cute pictures of frigging cats on Facebook. And now...the dead cat in my car. Yes, inside the fan shroud.

It all started with a text message my compound friend sent me a few days ago. 'I have a dead f@@@@ing kitten in my car!' She said. 'I have just spent two hours having this thing scraped off the car engine at the Salwa road garage!'
According to my friend, there was a cross eyed dwarf male specialising in dead cat removals.  Oh, i laughed. I thought it was unbelievable. What a funny story! A dead cat in the car engine! Hahaha

Well, let me tell you. It is not that funny.

Imagine my feeling when two days ago, i started my car and heard a funny thumping noise coming from deep inside it. Hmm, i thought, something is wrong with my car? How worrying!
But after one more suspicious noise, before i could concentrate on what was going on, the noise stopped. The next day, husband commented on the bin getting quite stinky outside. I was just getting ready to go to the shops to get some food, and having started the engine, was revolted by the smell.

What was most disturbing, I knew, I just knew like we all do, somehow, that it was the smell of a dead body decomposing. Perhaps, we all have this knowledge deep inside our brain. Perhaps, we are pre-programmed to know and fear this smell. In any case, I told myself the chances of me having a dead kitten in my car after my friend just had one in hers were pretty slim. Let's think probability here. Let's think statistics, right?

Well, to hell with those.

In a few hours, walking the baby outside in the summer heat, I noticed that flies were not particularly interested in the rubbish bin. They were all trying to get inside the bonnet of my car.
I went home, and told Husband that, despite it sounding unrealistic, there might be a dead kitten in my car.

That day, we could not see anything. I say we, but you of course, realise, that there was simply no way I could make myself look inside the bonnet. Husband opened the bonnet and announced that there were cat paw prints all over. That was not a good sign. There was no body discovered at the first search.

However, the next morning, the smell was getting worse. Husband took the car to the garage but, sadly for us, the cross-eyed cat removing dwarf was having a day off. Husband decided to look properly.  Are you sure, I asked. 'I have seen a of of dead things before', he replied proudly. And then, I heard him retching  outside.

He tried to poke it out with a stick. The thing was baked on and would not come out. He then tried to pull it out with a bin sack. Right, right...enough details. Let's just say...it was pretty awful, and husband deserves a medal.

For hours later, all we could smell was the dead kitten. It was following us around. To the shops, to the jacuzzi at the pool...And even now, as I type this, my nose gets filled in with the disgusting, unmistakable smell.

'I will go get myself a glass of wine', I have just told Husband. 'I need a drink tonight!'

And guess what I saw on the box of wine? Yep. A frigging cat.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Just another morning in the multicultural compound, or a story about Vanilla.

On a sunny weekend morning my husband was enjoying the company of his compound friend  over a pot of freshly brewed coffee. They were having a man talk.

'We should buy a boat between us!', I heard one say...'No, we should buy a big old truck!' You know, that kind of stuff.

Suddenly, the neighbour glanced into the back yard. 'Hmm, he said. Is there any reason you have a covered up lady wandering in your garden?'

What? he caught my attention. He is kidding, was my first reaction.
-No, seriously. She just went behind the water tank!

Slowly, I crept up to the glass doors at the back of the house. At first, I could not see anyone, but then I noticed a pair of slippers placed right next to the wall of the water tank area. And, before I could think any further, a lady, covered up in black, appeared from behind the wall. She carefully put her slippers back on and slowly walked back to the side gate.

 As we tried to figure out what she might have been doing in our tank area, Husband jumped off his chair.

'Look!' He pointed to the kitchen window. 'She is walking back! With a chair this time?!'

I suddenly recognised the woman. It is our Malaysian neighbour, I thought.

'Well, go on then! Go ask what she wants?' husband encouraged me.

Why me? I wanted to know. Confronting a stranger in my back garden was not on my agenda for a relaxing Saturday morning.

Husband pointed out that he could not go. 'It might be rude and inappropriate for a man to ask her any questions'. Hmm, I thought. Either that, or the real reason is he is afraid she might actually be a stalker or a psycho of some sort, and is sending me out first to find out. But curiosity took over, and I peeped outside. Some excited voices were coming from the side path of the garden.

I walked around and saw my neighbour (I guessed correctly, even though I barely met the woman and never saw her outside before) and two other women, one of which I guessed to have been her maid and another-her daughter. The maid was holding a wicker chair up to the high concrete wall calling to a white fluffy cat who was clearly not that interested.

 'Vanilla!!! Vanilla!' she kept calling, offering the chair to the cat. I was relieved. The women did not look that scary. (Maybe a bit silly for thinking the cat was ever going to come down on that chair, but that's a personal opinion. I could be wrong about that as I am not a cat person, whatsoever.)

I cleared my throat in my most polite British manner.  'Khmm...Excuse me?' I called out and smiled, just in case. I did not want to make it obvious that I thought it was very bizarre for me to catch them standing in my garden, without having knocked on the door and informing me beforehand. They saw me and thought it was funny. They laughed- happily and openly and I could not help but laugh with them. 'The cat!' They shouted all together, pointing to Vanilla, who was successfully ignoring all of us.

Ah, OK, I said. What else could be said? I returned home, to a very curious Husband and his friend.

'So? what are they doing in our garden?'

 I explained.

' Strange, isn't it' I said thoughtfully. 'Why would she not knock on the door first before appearing in our back yard?'

'Well, she might have been embarrassed in case I opened the door?' Husband tried to be culturally sensitive and understanding. 'Maybe she should not be speaking to strange men?'  'Yes, I said, but what if you were sun-bathing in your garden? Now that would be an inappropriate encounter!'  True, we all agreed. But the truth is...when such different cultures clash, there is no simple explanation. What might be a natural thing for a British (or an Azeri turned British for that matter) might never occur to a person from a completely different part of the world. Perhaps, it was not the question of being shy or not allowed to speak to a man, but also the desire to not bother or disturb us that was the case? And when you try to understand, it almost makes sense.