Sooo… I’m a bad blogger. I am a great blog reader and internet memer and viral video watcher, but the actual contribution thing eludes me for some reason. Perhaps, because I want to do EVERYTHING, then get overwhelmed and do nothing. Boo.

It’s one week into the new year and I feel strangely hopeful. Maybe it’s just that Spring can officially slink in without feeling guilty for taking some of Winter’s time. The generally warmer weather and more sunlight does generally help with those moods and my motivation.

We celebrated the first day of Spring, the first day of the New Year in the normal fashion and I loved it. On March 2oth I ate so much good Kurdish food, I still feel full one week later. It’s always felt better to me to celebrate the New Year in the Spring, it doesn’t make much sense to celebrate it in the middle of winter. Yeah, it’s the longest night (a solstice) and they shorten after that but on the vernal equinox the day and night are EQUAL, how weird/awesome is that? Plus things come out of hibernation– bears, tulips, other small furry things, and some people.

If my family lived in an area with a larger existent Kurdish community, we would have probably had several days of feasting, dancing, bonfire jumping, and a general celebration of Kurdish-ness, but we don’t. So our Newroz celebrations are quiet comparatively, but  it’s not a bad thing.

Kurdish Newroz is one of the many New Year’s celebrations that occur on the vernal equinox– the Persians, Afghans, Baha’is, Azerbaijanis, Zoroastrians, and others all celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

Cooking with my mom last sunday, I was reminded of my Newroz in South Africa. My housemates and I (the House 8 Hellions) went shopping and we made shifteh (spiced meat patties eaten in pita/lavash bread with veg), Kubuli (rice that is boiled and steamed with oil and onions), and eggplant shila (a stew eaten with rice). It was so rewarding to have everyone be super excited about Newroz with me and curious to participate in something new with me. Indifference and blatant disrespect is what I have often encountered, regarding my Kurdish identity in particular or the Kurds in general.

It was also the first Newroz celebration away from my family and the first one in which I headed the cooking, the plans, and was the chief engineer, so to speak. I had taken my mother’s place while I was away from her. I remember being terrified. I was sure the food wouldn’t turn out well, that no one would like it or that people would think it a silly and weird holiday.

Fortunately, I had severely underestimated my cooking skills, my housemates’ enthusiasm, appreciation and curiosity. It turned out to be one of the most memorable Newrozes to date.

This year I was back with my family and I was the assistant to the master chef, my mom. It was totally fine with me, just watching her is exhausting. I have no idea how she does it. We made Kurdish style dolma, saffron pilouw (steamed rice), apricot chicken, salad, several yogurt dishes and had plenty of fresh veg and fruit for munching. I really wish the House 8 Hellions could have been there–I think they would have had a blast.

It’s strange how we encounter new cultures and ways of living. It’s having friends, family, and being in it, not as a tourist, but really living in it, that we learn what it’s really like. Living with the Hellions brought together a lot of influences and we were respectful, curious, interested, and invested in delving into each of them. We had so many great discussions, revelations, and  encounters—Tae bo in the living room, cooking nights, coffee/tea habits– that it is almost overwhelming. Almost, but not quite. I guess living with the Hellions really proved to me the value of Anthropology’s participant observation. You can’t fully understand it if you are in it, and both outside and inside perspectives provide valuable insights.