The other day I was walking up from the Waterfront to M Street in Georgetown with couple of buddies of mine from Azerbaijan going for a coffee. One of them who has been living in the U.S. already long time, has got used to speak loud as many Americans do, which is uncommon back home though I don’t mean it is a bad or good thing, but it is just the way it is in this country. Meanwhile talking in Azerbaijani, we did not think that we could catch the attention of group of youth walking in front of us because we were so much into our conversation. One of those three guys turned to us unexpectedly and asked if we are speaking in Turkish. I said yes and no because it is Azerbaijani, one of the Turkic languages, which is in the same family group as Turkish, yet it is different. I was however surprised that he could tell that we spoke a language that is similar to Turkish because we were speaking really fast and by using slang words. Before I went ahead to ask how he guessed it, the guy commented that he is from Afghanistan and he experienced hearing and learning some Turkish, so he caught up some identical words or phrases while we were speaking.
I was definitely interested more and I tried that the conversation goes ahead, so was the guy from Afghanistan. He asked us to sing a song in our language just for him to listen to how it sounds and I did not think much before going ahead to start singing a folk song in Azerbaijani, which I usually sing when I am alone or with people who I know. This time it was for some random people, so I got a little bit nervous, yet very excited. I sang one part of it for short time and then briefly explained the listeners what is the song about. Then it was the Afghan guy’s turn to sing a song, which I listened carefully and saw that it is actually in Farsi, not Pashtun, so I could understand words or phrases here and there because we have received many words from Farsi throughout history. When he finished singing, we hugged as if we know each other for years and we had a short conversation afterwards that I learned that he is from LA actually visiting DC.
I just thought of this “cultural exchange” later on and I was happy seeing that some foreigner recognized my language to some extent, which meant he did not have a question on where Azerbaijan is, which has been a trouble for me since I landed here teaching people some geography lessons. I know that may be such things happen on a daily routine with many people living in this country, and I had some other interesting occasions, but unfortunately I can cover only one in a blog post. So, I wanted to share this specific case with the readers because such little things make life interesting and help to remain positive and smiling.
Furthermore, I was thinking that it is what makes America unique and distinguished from other cultures and lands because of which this nation’s diversity is people’s advantage rather that a curse. This is why America is called a “melting pot”, which alludes to, in my opinion, flexibility and exceptionalism-from social perspective. So, for many Americans there is nothing special about what happened with me. Therefore, I still can’t grasp the idea of preventing immigrants, especially refugees from coming to this country by banning their entrance through some non-sense executive orders. Everybody knows that this country exists because of immigrants, but nowadays misleading interpretations are so wide spread, that people even tend to underestimate this specific strength of America. I believe that this is a blessing and every single American should feel proud of it.