Observations of an American journalist in Azerbaijan, Russia and USA.
Monday, July 14, 2008
July 3, 2008 One unpleasant aspect of Lenkoran – perhaps the most unpleasant at the moment – is the mosquito population. It’s very high. Last night – after some rain – I felt literally enveloped in a cloud of mosquitoes as I walked home. At night, I try to make sure that I am completely covered by a light sheet – but of course I hear the whine of the mosquitoes – leading to the inevitable question – “Is she inside or outside my little tent?” I am not one to complain lightly about mosquitoes. I’m not usually bothered by them – but there are very many here. A possible reason for this is the open sewers that line the street. I suppose they once may have served as real sewers – now they are just ditches – albeit concrete-ditches. Esmira told me that in Soviet times, these ditches were regularly “disinfected” (DDT?) – but now they are just ditches – usually holding stagnant water with a healthy mat of algae – and a bubbling collection of mosquito eggs. Today – we are talking about writing in class. This should be interesting. I find that the writing style is where the differences between Western and Soviet journalism are most stark. The Soviet Union collapsed 14 years ago – but the Soviet style – which mixed opinion quite freely with fact – lives on quite healthily. I have some in-class assignments – so that should highlight the problem. But I don’t have the illusion that I am going to change the writing style of students in a couple of hours. Writing style is something formed over years – and these writers have grown comfortable with it. The most I can do is expose them to a different style – so that they at least know that a different way of writing exists. (Above is a picture of the bazaar in Lenkoran.)