Tag Archives: azerbaijan

The Persistence of Pirs

Villages in Azerbaijan can seem like introverted places to outsiders. But there is a place where people’s everyday hopes and fears are arranged in plain sight, usually in the form of a ribbon or a piece of colorful cloth tied … Continue reading

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Xinaliq = 6,000 Sheep

Mountain dwellers along the Greater Caucasus Range are fond of explaining their tapestry of languages with a bit of accidental divine intervention. First, Sherif tells me, God created all the peoples of the world and then set off to distribute their various languages, all of which were kept in a bag. But when the creator flew over the soaring snow covered peaks of the Caucasus and the bag got caught on a particularly high crag. Through this small tear came a stream of languages sprinkled throughout the region.
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Meykhana

Azerbaijan has always been located between cultural traditions, absorbing words and ideas from the vast empires that have surrounded it. So it is fitting that the only thing everyone agrees about today’s meykhana – a form of poetic improvisation – … Continue reading

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Adolescence

When Azerbaijan won Eurovision I was drinking with a Meskhetian Turk somewhere in the flatlands of Central Azerbaijan. I had gone to see the night livestock market, which isn’t exactly at night nor a market. But the point remains, instead … Continue reading

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Flower Day, Aliyev Style

On May 10 Heydar Aliyev, the former president and current billboard favorite in Azerbaijan, would have turned 88 years old. So naturally, the government pulled out all the stops. Like last year, thousands of flowers from 50 countries literally covered the park between the Heydar Aliyev Palace and the statue of Heydar Aliyev as two hot air balloons were inflated in front of the giant flower mosaic of Heydar Aliyev, ensuring that his unmistakable Kremlin-Mona-Lisa smile would soar above the city already covered by his portraits. Continue reading

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Carved Rock and Flowing Mud

Should you decide to take in the more-tourist friendly, less rusted-tanks sights of Azerbaijan, here’s the next thing I found heading southwest from Baku. First the Gobustan petroglyphs, which the guide said are from 23,000 years ago. Yes, thousand. The … Continue reading

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Too strong or too weak?

That’s the question facing anyone covering today’s protests in Baku. Is the opposition too weak or is the ruling YAP party too strong?
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The Tank Cemetery

Heading southwest out of Baku you can expect a few sights worth noting, but the good stuff is hidden behind the walls of Azerbaijan Methane Company. There are other stops worth pointing out on the road to Gobustan, but my … Continue reading

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Azerbaijan Redux

I’m back in Azerbaijan. The balcony floorboards are rotted, the water heater is broken and there’re protests every few weeks. Continue reading

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Election reflections

The storefronts and billboards throughout Baku are still covered in election posters, but a brief conversation with the stores’ owner reveals the cynicism of the recent elections here. In most cases, the owner did not support or oppose the candidate, did not know who put up the poster inside his shop and didn’t remove it because, in the words of one woman, “Why would I do a stupid thing like that?” Continue reading

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