Archive for August, 2011

Demolition Dilemma

5 August 2011

The old house was built in 2-phases.  Phase one in the 1950s: stone down and earth bricks (called qerpiç) on the upper floor.  Phase 2 in the 70s.  Now, in the corner of the two bedrooms upstairs there (were) in each a small cubicle style shower room.  It was my assumption that these were late additions.  However, after their destruction, it became clear that these ‘modern’ en-suite facilities were part of the original construction.  Consequently I woke up the next day in a state of desperation that instead of making the old house live I was in my amateur blundering only destroying something historic, unusual and rare.  Hence the demolition dilemma.  Well ’tis done.  There will eventually be larger ensuite shower rooms exempt from claustrophobia.

This ‘mistake’ has generated some interesting conversation.  Such shower rooms are known as ‘hamman gjik’ – and this has me curious.  Hammam is easily understood as turkish baths… so the little shower rooms were for washing.  Elizabeth has enlightened me to the fact that ‘Gjik’ is from Turkish ‘xhik’ and simply means ‘little’.  So there we have it.  I have since been collecting ‘gjik’ or ‘xhik’ words as used in Albanian, and now have kapigjik (the little side gate for people beside the main gate for horses and carts), kamxhik (a whip), nenexhik (peppermint, possibly because it has smaller leaves than mendër = mint), janxhik (the small back pack in which a shepherd carried his lunch), and finally a modern streetwise mini-gjik meaning tiny!

I am enjoying a 1979 Kosovo book called ‘Gjurmë e Gjurmime’ (Footprints Investigation) by Mark Krasniqi… in that there is an old house layout with a part called ‘hammam xhiku’.  In the drawing this is the arched-off corner of a room with a drain where you might wash.  But, ‘xhikë’, is the name for the woman who accompanies the bride to the bridegroom’s house and who stays over the night to ensure the consummation of the marriage.

This mix of sentimental thinking did leave me with the amusing picture of a woman stuck in the shower cubicle peaking out through a crack in the door!