March 6, 2010

Aliyev in the News

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 1:18 pm by Jenn

Yesterday morning as I was packing my lunch for the day when my father came up from his “man camp” in the basement carrying the morning paper – front page.  “Look at this” he said, showing me a picture.”  A twelve year old boy from Azerbaijan owns all these beach houses in Dubai”

The article talks about how these houses are owned by a 12 year old boy with the same name and birthday as the president Aliyev’s son – Heydar.  The president’s salary of $228,000 isn’t nearly enough to purchase these properties and goes on to talk about corruption in Azeribaijan…hmmmm…is this news?  Well I guess the properties in Dubai may be news but the fact that the government there is corrupt shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, well anyone who has spent more than 24 hours in that country anyway.

It’s interesting to note that the president’s son is listed as owner of 9 properties, while the daughters are listed as owners of one each…..well, we don’t know for sure it’s “them” but again, the owners are people with the same names as the presidential family members.  Good grief.  I’m just trying to find a house near the water in Virginia for less than $1800 a month.  Wonder if I can borrow some cash from Heydar?

April 30, 2009

News from Baku

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 3:42 pm by Jenn

The phone rang at around 4 am today.  The phone ringing at that hour around my parents house used to be pretty common with both my father and I on-call for the local hospital that we both worked for…but that was years ago.  Now when the phone rings that that hour it usually isn’t very good news.

My mom came in to my room and told me Scott was on the phone….what could be wrong?  Scott informed me that there had been a shooting incident at the Baku Oil University, very near the Embassy.  He wanted to let me know so that when I heard about it on the news I wouldn’t worry.  He seemed to think it was an isolated incident.

Here’s a link to the story.

These senseless incidents seem to be happening more and more around the world.  It is such a shame that these troubled individuals aren’t able to find help and think that these acts of violence are the only way to solve their problems.

April 17, 2009

National Gallery of I Don’t Think So

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 7:51 pm by Jenn

I’m in my final days now.  I have less than two weeks left in Baku and so many things left to do before I go.  Last week I knocked out the Carpet Museum, riding the Funicular and attempted a visit to the National Art Gallery.  I say attempted because we (me and Missy) actually went in, purchased tickets and then decided against the visit….why you ask?  Well, because they want you to check your coat, your purse and your camera….um, I don’t think so!  Why do they feel it’s necessary to take my coat everywhere I go?  I don’t want to take my coat off…I’m cold, thank you very much!  And really?  You want me to leave my purse with you?  Again, I don’t think so.  I am not going to leave my purse with my money, my identification, my credit cards, my cell phone and house keys at coat check in the United States of America – so don’t expect me to leave it in a country where the price I pay for pashminas depends on the mood of the salesman and the language I am speaking!  As for the camera…well that’s just ridiculous…we said we wouldn’t take pictures, the camera was packed away in the camera bag…they follow so close to you that you can practically smell their breath so what’s the big deal of wanting to keep an expensive item like a camera in our possession?  If it falls of the hook and breaks or someone steals it are they going to compensate us for the loss…NOPE!  So therefore, not leaving it….or any of the other stuff….just give us our money back!

The woman at the checking station was rather offended and the guard didn’t seem very happy either.  I understand they have a job to do, but at least if you are going to take someones valuables offer a locker area to keep them in at least….even the grocery store has that much – and I don’t leave my purse in the locker there either!

Hopefully my visit this week to the Palace in the Old City and the Modern Art Gallery will be better.

April 10, 2009

Bye Bye Bazaar

Posted in Journal tagged , , , at 7:36 pm by Jenn

Today was my final trip to the Airport Bazaar, and it seems it wasalso one of the final days of the bazaar itself.  When I moved to Baku last spring there were rumors that the Airport Bazaar was closing, but each time I went I saw no evidence of that happening.  Last month when I went on my pashmina run the guy that I used to get the pashminas from had disappeared – guy, shop, merchandise, gone.  Later I discovered that they had begun tearing down sections of the bazaar….still, no actual word that it was closing.

A few days ago on the Bakuvians Ravelry group forum there was a message posted asking if anyone wanted to head to the bazaar this weekend because it would be closing on the 15th!  I wondered, could it be true?  Is the Airport Bazaar finally closing?  I posted the question, but did not get a response.  A few of us had been planning to go to the bazaar today anyway so I didn’t need to attend the weekend trip.

Last night was cold and rainy, which told me that today would be a cold, muddy day at the bazaar.  Missy picked me up this morning and was well  prepared, wearing her bright green rubber boots.  I had on boots, but they were no where near as sporty and practical as Missy’s.  I messaged ahead to Jess (an APB virgin) to make sure to wear boots.  I wish I’d thought ahead and asked Julie if I could borrow a pair of her rain boots again.  Trust me….when it rains you need boots at the bazaar.

Anyway, we parked and decided to head to the purse shop first and I’m glad we did because when we arrived at the shop we saw this

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Yep, evidence of a move.  We were told by the shop attendant that they’d been told that morning that they had to have all of their stuff packed up and out by the end of the day!  Can you imagine?  It’s crazy to think about just having your life uprooted like that, so abruptly!  I’m glad we chose to go there first otherwise we may not have gotten our bags today. 

On the way through the bazaar it seemed to be business as usual.  Only row 4 seemed to be in a state of panic and packing. 

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We ventured through the bazaar in search of more pashminas…we found them on row 12.  We asked the shop attendant here if he was moving and he said not this week, but next week for sure because the bazaar would be closed.  He gave us his business card and told us to call to find the new location. 

It’s really hard to convey the magnitude of this bazaar closing….just how many lives it is affecting.  All the shop attendants, all the patrons…just like that.  We started on row 4 and were now on row 12….hundred of stalls in between with countless pieces of merchandise, all to be packed and moved and unpacked, but when and where?  The reason?  Unknown.   There is some speculation that they will be expanding the aiport.  We also heard that they were building a new road.  Whatever the reason, I hope in the long run it benefits the people, because the closing of this bazaar is likely to affect a lot of people.

So, back to the rain.  It was so cold and still a little rainy and as we walked through the aisles, we were sloshing through mud and muck.  Most of it managable with some creative footwork until we came to this section on Row 8

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We all carry our cameras pretty much wherever we go and take pictures of things make most of the people around us either laugh or wonder what is so fascinating that you need a picture of this.  That’s how this water thing started out and then all the guys wanted us to take a picture of them with their carts…wanted to take a picture with us, etc.  It was a lot of fun. 

The guys were using these carts to shuttle people over this massive water puddle.  The price 1 manat….glady paid to keep dry feet.  Here’s a picture of me and Jess being shuttled.  I’m clinging on to the cart and to poor Jess for dear life.  I could just envision myself flying off the cart in to the water…typical Jenn style.

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And here’s a picture of Missy, showing them how to get it done, sporting her APBB’s (airport bazaar boots).  Trust me, this was the highlight of these guys WEEK!

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So sadly, this was my last trip to the bazaar but at least it was a memorable one.  I got to ride the water taxi!  WHOOT!

April 9, 2009

The Final Countdown – I think

Posted in Journal tagged , , at 9:15 am by Jenn

I’d like to think I’m in my final days in Baku, but I’m really still not certain.  Scott’s “people” still have not come up with the funding to pay for my ticket out of here.  I still have very high hopes that I’m make it out of here by my target date and I’m running around like a crazy woman getting all the things done that I should have been doing over the past 1o months….art galleries, museums, monuments, shopping, etc.

Yesterday a couple of us went walking around just snapping random photos in and around the neighborhood.  Here are a few of my favorite shots from yesterday and the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy.

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There are so many pictures that I’ve taken over the past several weeks.  I’m organizing them now by topic and will put a link to the web album once I’m finished.

April 2, 2009

Coffee Break Spanish

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , at 5:18 pm by Jenn

I have been surfing and browsing the internet most of the day, reading expat blogs on Chile, searching for potential job leads, posting to message boards etc.  Overall it’s been really amusing and the best part is that I found this great site that will be a refresher for my Spanish.  It’s a weekly podcast called Coffee Break Spanish, and IT IS A RIOT!  I’m on lesson one and I’m cracking up.  Not because it’s pathetic, but because it is entertaining.  I’m almost positive the instructors Mark and Kara are Irish as I detect a strong brogue, which comes across when they speak and it’s cracking me up!  LOVE IT!  This is going to be perfect.  Free Spanish lessons, and entertainment, and all in the privacy of my own home, while I knit!

Yesterday, I was too distracted by the post news and other things to write anymore, but I NEED to document this before I forget. 

I was walking around the Old City yesterday when my cell phone rang…it was Vangie – my neighbor.  She asked in a voice that sounded very disturbed, “Jenn, are you at home?”  I said, “No, why, what’s wrong”.  She said, “You are missing a great photo op at the Wellington”.   Vangie knows that I carry my camera everywhere with me to document the bizarre and strange happenings in and around this town.  Judging by the tone of her voice I knew it couldn’t be good.  The last time I heard her voice like this was the day Baku Animal Control was in the neighborhood.  I’ll spare you the details, but I will tell you that I did hear the gunshots.

Anyway, I asked what was going on and she proceeded to tell me that there were two sheep in our parking lot with their feet tied and they were about to be slaughtered.  I couldn’t believe it.  We live in a high rise apartment building.  Perhaps if we lived in Badamdar about 5 minutes away it wouldn’t bother me so much (fenced yards and less populated), but this is the city, we should not be seeing this in our parking lot.  She then went on to tell me that the gentleman who has several parking spaces reserved in the lot for himself (and his friends I suppose) had these two sheep in his “area” (not marked I might add, you are just supposed to know not to park there) with a meat hook and a wash basin and it looked like they were getting ready to kill the sheep.  She said she didn’t stick around long enough because she didn’t want to see and suggested that if I didn’t want to see that I not come home for a while.  I thought that was a GOOD idea.  So I waited several hours.

When I returned home one of the maintenance guys was up in the parking lot hosing off the area so I’m guessing that the mission had been accomplished even though there was no evidence that I could see.  I called Vangie to tell her that it had been done and she said that she knew…apparently her husband came home and witness the hanging, skinned, sheep…he also noticed that 10 feet away in the playground for our building were many kids, PLAYING! 

These are the same kids whose parents have a fit because the dogs run around and use the bathroom on the grass around the apartment.  I wonder what they’ll say when their kids wake up screaming in the night from the nightmares they are sure to have from these sheep.  I know that I had a sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach just hearing about it and I’m sure many of you have that same feeling right now reading about it. 

I wonder why they did this, and why they chose to do it in the parking lot?  Certainly in Baku there are facilities where this can be done and if this man has enough “manat” to have 5 parking spaces all to himself, I’m sure he could have hired someone to take care of this somewhere a little less public.

Please, please, please someone – say something to me about my dog today.

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