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