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



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. 


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


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.


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!


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!

March 30, 2009

Farida’s Mushroom Appetizer with Twisted Chicken to follow

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:53 pm by Jenn

A few months ago while surfing the net for a recipe for borsch, I came across a website called Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook.  I was immediately curious and found several dishes that I wanted to try.  I emailed the blog’s author, Farida asking if she had a recipe for borsch.  Low and behold she did and she emailed it to me a few days ago.  I’ll be making it tomorrow.

Tonight however, I treated my tastebuds to another of Farida’s recipes – Mushrooms Stuffed with Eggplant, Walnuts and Fresh Herbs.  In one word – FABULOUS!  If you want a super quick, tasty appetizer, do yourself a favor and give these a try.  I made the following modifications – I used 1/2 the recipe since it was only me and Scott, I added one clove of minced garlic to the mixture in the frying pan and I added about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese prior to stuffing.  Another word – YUMMO!  Scott wolfed down 8 of them in no time and I managed to polish off 4 with no problem and could have eaten more.  Thankfully I wanted Andy to try them so I didn’t eat the 5th one….yet!  Andy better get over here in the next hour though otherwise I can’t be responsible for my actions.


The main course is still in the oven and due to come out in about 15 minutes.  This is a newbie for me….I’m calling it Twisted Chicken.  It’s a variation of Andy’s Greek Chicken from 2 weekends ago.  Basically, it’s a baked chicken and oven roasted vegetables.  I stuffed the chicken with a few cloves of garlic, some fresh dill and a boiled lemon….yep, that’s right, boiled lemon.  I learned that from Andy, and it gives the chicken just a hint of lemon flavor.  I par boiled the potatoes and the lemon and garlic cloves then stuffed the chicken and added the potatoes and some fresh carrots around the chicken in the roasting pan.  End result is a great tasting bird and veggies.  Thanks Andy for the lemon idea, this will be a frequent meal in the Smart household….Twisted Chicken.

And I’ll leave you with this cute picture of Max sleeping.  It’s hard to believe he’s comfortable, and he LOVES to sleep on top of his kennel because that’s where the sunshine is!  The dog moves from spot to spot throughout the day, following the sun.


March 27, 2009

No News is THE PITS!

Posted in Journal tagged , , , , at 7:56 pm by Jenn

We have been waiting, waiting, waiting to hear about our next post and in typical USMC fashion, we still don’t know.  The date has been pushed back AGAIN, now til Monday.  So that means, two more days that I can’t buy a plane ticket home, arrange for movers, blah blah blah BLAH!  Come on Quantico, get with it, people have lives out here on hold, waiting on you.

Today I did manage to make a trip out to the airport bazaar thanks to my friend Missy who offered to drive – Thanks Missy!  Missy’s friend Jenni also joined us and it was a very successful day all around.  We covered a lot of territory, mostly in search of pashmina scarves.  The guy that I normally buy from in row 4 has mysteriously vanished so that meant finding a new pashmina guy, or two.  The first guy that we happened upon had a small selection, but thanks to Jenni’s Azeri language skills I was able to get them for a steal, a LOT cheaper than Row 4 guy so I really didn’t care.  I bought 20 from him and still wanted to get more as those 20 were for my mom’s office.  We did manage to find another guy who had a great selection and again, thanks to Jenni I was able to buy them for much cheaper than Row 4 guy, so basically what I learned at the airport bazaar today is that speaking Azeri will get you further for cheaper in this country for sure.  Jenni saved me 50 manat today, just because she spoke Azeri instead of Russian. 

Another example is the three of us looking at sunglasses, Missy asked the guy, How much (in Russian) and he told her 6 manat, Jenni asked about the same pair not even 3 minutes later and the guy told her 4 manat….he also told her that the price was cheaper for her because she spoke Azeri, NOT Russian.  AMAZING.  I only know two words in Azeri – Hello and cucumber and I don’t think either of those words would get me very far day to day.  I supposed I could have used these past 10 1/2 months to learn a few other words but honestly you can get what you need day to day speaking English or Russian so I didn’t bother.  Now I wish I had, I probably would have saved a TON of money.

The other cool thing that I purchased today were tea cups.  12 of them, purchased in Azerbaijan, made in Belarus at the HEMAHcrystal factory that I visited when I lived in Belarus.  The tea here is always served in a crystal glass, the ones I bought are small and kind of shaped like an hour glass.  I love them and now I have some.  I also purchased the cute little spoons, now I just need to find saucers….hmm….maybe another trip to the bazaar? Oh, and a cream, sugar and jam set : ).

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