Friday, 27 January 2017

About feelings.



When I was young and naive, and living in Baku, my cousin had a beautiful Saint Bernard puppy, which she then gave away to her brother to look after, once she got pregnant.  I was outraged then. I thought she was the most heartless, cruel, meanest person that I met in my life. You loved that dog, it was your baby, I thought, how could you give it away?!

So, years later, remembering that story, when I was pregnant myself, I sat on the floor with my Rottweiler and re-assured him, over and over again, that I would not, in a slightest possible way, feel any different about him once my baby girl arrives. You are my baby; I used to whisper in his floppy ear, and nothing! will ever change that.

And then, the baby arrived. And I suddenly felt different. Just like that. Of course, I did not give the dog away. I still loved it, but now it was not the same. Yes, I felt bad about it. And I did everything I could to maintain the same level of attention and affection towards the dog as before. But, deep inside, I knew I felt differently.

And then, when time came for us to consider having another baby, I kept wondering, looking at my first daughter, how would it ever be possible for me to love another child as much? I was convinced it was impossible. And then, of course, when my second baby was born, I was in for a huge surprise.

What I am trying to say is that the funny thing about feelings, and I mean true feelings, is that they are completely unpredictable. They are impossible to plan for or calculate in advance. It is pointless to justify or explain them, even to yourself, and most importantly, it is totally impossible to make yourself feel a certain way when you don’t.

I had a girlfriend who has always been a bit, you know…funny with me. She would be very friendly, attentive and helpful and always made sure she kept in touch, however more often than not, when I suggested to get together, she would come up with some silly excuse; until I stopped asking. I realized, that she simply did not really like me. I thought about it, and realized that, she probably wanted to like me. I know you think I am talking nonsense now, but what happens, I believe, is that people think they should act and feel a certain way when deep in their hearts they do not. It is like telling yourself you believe in god when you probably don’t, if you are very honest with yourself. So, with this friend, she probably thought I was a good friend for her. Our kids were close, our husbands got along well, we lived nearby, she probably liked certain things about me, maybe found me useful in some way or another. But, somehow, deep in her heart, she just did not feel that close to me. She did not want to see me that often, and hang out like good friends would, and I just had to accept that she just was not a friend, even though she might have tried to be. And whatever I did, however nice or friendly or helpful I would be towards her, it would not help.

And recently, I came across an article on relationships that received a lot of praise and likes from the readers on Facebook. It was one of these girlie articles on the mistakes we, women make in relationships, and how to avoid them.  It was full of advice of how not to fall in love with the wrong person, how not to allow yourself feel a certain way. Oh please! I thought. How on earth is that going to be possible, to teach yourself to feel or not to feel a certain way? OK, you can probably stop yourself doing something, but surely, the whole point of feelings is that you should not be able to train yourself in or out of them?

Another friend of mine, recently divorced and trying to date again, often discusses recent developments with me. Recently, she broke up with her partner of over a year, and started going out with a new guy. Suddenly, the old guy was back, asking to get back together. What to do, she asked. What to do?  And, as I am reading her struggles of choosing one guy over the other, I can’t help but wonder if she feels anything about either of them? This one is quieter but more reliable, she says, and that one is funnier but a little fickle somehow…Look, I said to her, please don’t get offended but if you had any feelings towards either, this conversation would not be taking place. It should not be a choice. It cannot be a choice. It is that simple. The very fact that you are sitting there calculating the best option means that neither of those guys, sadly, is right for you. You are lonely, and you are middle aged, and you are divorced…It is all pretty miserable; I get it…but please, don’t let all these factors influence your judgement. Of course, like in that article, you could try and convince yourself that you have feelings and you could, I am sure, go quite far in that. People do, I think, have an amazing ability to talk themselves into anything they want to believe is true, when it isn’t. But in the end, the truth will come out and make it all pretty shitty.

So no, I don’t like these articles that teach you how to feel or not, how to make sure you choose the right person, whatever that even means. It is quite depressing, really, that the young single girls out there are reading these self-help articles on social media, learning how to be practical and sensible about their love lives. It is not a fucking job. You don’t need to plan for it, calculate it in advance and break it all down on excel sheet. Make mistakes, go for the wrong person, live life.Allow those butterflies into your stomach, because another funny thing about feelings is they never last. So enjoy them while you can.








Wednesday, 26 October 2016

How some older Azeri ladies party, or a spooky Halloween story.


As Halloween is around the corner and some of us have not just one but two parties to go to, I thought it was perfect timing to share a fascinating story from my mother.

Speaking of Halloween. Last year I loved my costume. I am not, to be honest, a big fan of fancy dress parties, and for years chose to ignore Halloween costumes altogether. However, last year, since everybody else was dressing up; and I was told there were prizes! for the best costume, I borrowed these Pirates of the Caribbean style costumes for me and husband. I have to tell you, I was converted ever since. I thought I looked great in my costume, in this sort of hot and cool way, which is not that easily achieved, you know? I even drew a fake scull and bones tattoo on my shoulder and even popped over to neighbours house to take a picture with her parrot. I will even share this photo with you here, which I had never done before. Hell, why not.  I loved that look on me.


And, I won! At both parties we went to!


So, this year I took things more seriously, having two parties to go to again, and ordered my outfit online, from the USA. 

OK, I am not even going to attempt to claim to be completely innocent in my choice, having been misled by the inaccurate photo on the partycity.com website.  I knew what I was ordering. But, in reality…I look ridiculous. Grotesque. I honestly do. And the first confirmation came from my Phillipina maid, who saw me in the dress and exclaimed 'Oh, wow, Ma’am, you are too sexy!'

That was not a good sign.

The boobs are enormous, and not in a good way, but in a way male comedians or clowns look when they dress up as women.  They come out from behind my armpits somehow, in the proudly fake way, and sit in the middle of my chest like some ripe watermelons. The skirt is so short that I cannot possibly bend down, not even a tiny little bit. And there are suspenders! With Police badges attached. And fishnet stockings. Oh, and a tiny leather tie to complete the look.

'So, basically', Husband said, looking at me prancing around the room in my costume, 'you middle aged women grasp at any opportunity to look like hookers. It is not really Halloween style, is it?' 

No, I admitted, it really isn’t.

And no, before you ask-no photos of me wearing this year's costume are going to appear on this blog.

Now, back to the planned story. 

My mother got invited to a girlie party. An older friend and her girlfriends, all in their late seventies or very early eighties were sitting around the table eating yummy foods and drinking merry drinks. As you do when you are in your late seventies.

As they finished the starters and the main course and were just about to start on all the cakes and tea, one of the ladies exclaimed…( Now, let's just give her some fake name here... Elmira! There, that will do.  ) So, she exclaimed: Elmira! What’s wrong with you???

Everybody then noticed Elmira, who sort of collapsed in her plate, completely unconscious, tongue hanging lifelessly out. 

Ladies started jumping up and down, calling ambulance and generally freaking out.

And this is when my mother, who, for some inexplicable reason has the ability to stay calm in bizarre situations when everyone else panics, remembered a trick she read about on Facebook.  ( I mean we are talking about the lady who once had to cut the body of her neighbour off the rope he had hanged himself on)

‘It sounded stupid, that article’…she said, ‘but I thought well, it cant really hurt can it?’

So, she took a needle and proceeded to prick each fingertip of the collapsed lady, drawing a little blood out of each. 

'The article said to prick her ear lopes too', she said, 'but I only got to her eighth finger when she suddenly sat up and asked what the hell I was doing'. 



Now, whether you believe in this bizarre urban myth method, or think it was totally stupid, and the lady came round simply because of the pain inflicted; or due to some bizarre coincidence, really has no significant importance for this story. What I thought was so cool was the ending. 

Because, as they waited for the ambulance, everyone calmed down, made sure the sick girl was comfortable on the sofa, and returned to the table to resume their party. After all, those cakes could not be wasted.


Now, this is how older generation party, my friends. Not sure we can ever beat that, with our ridiculous slutty costumes this Halloween.


Thursday, 13 October 2016

My first exclusive media event.




I have noticed a few times from occasional passive aggressive comments some readers left on Scary Azeri Facebook page that they were under the impression I got paid for this blogging thing. That, in reality of course is, very sadly, not true.  Nobody pays me and nobody wants to sell me any ads. Nothing of the sort really happens, it is just something I do.  Like other people who, you know, maybe enjoy nailing their bits to the dining table. For fun.

But, in all fairness, there are some random different perks that do occasionally happen. For instance, a few years ago I got offered some freelance work, wrote a couple of articles for Oryx (Qatar Airways 
in-flight magazine), got invited to contribute to some online stuff.. and got interviewed by Global Voices Online. All great fun. And since I moved to Doha, I occasionally get emails inviting me to media only events and launches. I sort of missed a few of them throughout the year due to…well, laziness on my part. Also, frankly, I was thinking it must have been a mistake or a spam. “Exclusive media only” events. I mean, I am not a media person, am I? 

I had an image of cool, young trendy media people hanging out at these parties, looking glamorous and gorgeous, all knowing each other, glancing at me and thinking who the hell is that? Is she lost? Gatecrashing? Until one of the organisers would approach me with an official list, check, sternly, what my name was, and who I worked for, and then ask me to leave, immediately.

But one of the things I truly love about Doha is that living here, I can do things I would not have done back home (homes? Both countries) Like attend a fencing championship, or a world cup tennis match, or…well, a media only event. So when I saw another email in my scary azeri inbox, I read it out to Husband. ‘Hey, check this out...' I said.  ‘Exclusive! Media! Invitation!’

It was to the Oyster Bar at St. Regis, which was introduced in the invite as the finest address in Qatar, on the beach, with Cuban live music and hand-crafted beverages.

Is it free? Husband asked suspiciously.  I decided it probably was.  I had to send my name and my 'plus one' to confirm our acceptance.

Come on, I said. Lets go, check it out.

It took us forever to find the place. St. Regis, ‘the finest address in Qatar', is full of suspicious corridors and winding labyrinths that were designed to confuse the inexperienced media persons like myself. As we approached the Oyster Bay, a lady with an official list was waiting for me. Just like I imagined she would. I had a momentary urge to ask for the bathroom and quickly disappear. But I had my high heels and ripped jeans on, and a bright lipstick and I was (really, honestly!) invited.  I have to say, I was impressed. I suspect the’d never heard what Scary Azeri was, but as soon as I mentioned it, her face lit up with this most excited, most flattering smile, as if I was (almost single) Brad Pitt asking her out on a date. Oh, wow, she said, we had sent you a few invitations in the past, but have not had the pleasure of meeting you yet!

Blimey, I thought. I am a celebrity!!!

A security guard slapped a green paper bracelet on my wrist, which immediately made me feel all happy and warm inside: Any of us who had been to anywhere knows what such a paper bracelet means. It means, you are in. And you are in somewhere with free food and drinks. 

Please, enjoy yourselves! The friendly lady said, ushering us to the beach. Everything is on us!

Husband was clearly impressed. Suddenly, all the times I spent at the computer, all the Twitter and Facebook ‘crap’ he had endlessly complained about made some sense.
He of course, could not resist to wind me up a little: Have you not checked in yet?

‘Shut up, you are my Plus One, I said. Know your place!  It is my event.’

And so we did enjoy it. The music by ‘Gerardo Contino y LosHabaneros’ was chilled in the way only Latin music can be, the drinks and canap├ęs were being served non-stop, and the view of the bay was stunning. The band leader told us that they were invited to perform at the White House but chose to be in Doha instead. True? Who knows, but they were good. 

As for trendy and beautiful people…Well, it was pretty dark, and my attention was entirely focused on a couple of girls in such ridiculous outfits that I could hardly notice anyone else. Posing for endless photos in various, but equally hilarious poses, they were my personal highlight of the evening.

I did not really network or meet anyone, or see anyone I recognized but it was definitely a fun night out. I must make more effort, I thought, to attend these sort of events, when invited. Or to at least, check my inbox more often to even see them in time, in the first place. And it was great fun to keep reminding husband that he could be a 'plus one' for a change. 












Thursday, 22 September 2016

Another travel blog! This time-Sri Lanka.


We have just come back from another holiday. I feel a bit awkward to even say it, because we only just had the summer away, and suddenly going off again on another break, but the truth, in more detail is as follows:
  •      One drunken night, we agreed with compound friends that we should go together and once committed, we stuck to the promise, which was a great way to actually go, and not just plan as we usually do, and cancel later on, due to money issues or pure laziness. If you never materialise your travel to exotic destinations plans, I recommend this method; the same way as exercising or dieting with someone else. Get drunk, say cool, this sounds awesome! and then book tickets.
  •       We had second Eid here, in Doha, and it was still awfully hot, so it was a great time to escape- one more time.
  •       Always thought to make effort and go to one of those interesting counties that are nearer while we live in Qatar; and we have been here for five years and still have not done it.

Anyway, that’s how we ended up finally visiting Sri-Lanka.

The very first question pretty much everyone asks me after this trip is: Oh, wasn’t it amazing? Was it, like, THE most beautiful place you have ever seen?

Well, parts of it definitely were very beautiful. And I really liked it. And, I had a fantastic time.

Was it the most beautiful place I have ever visited? Well….no, it wasn't.

I have only one explanation in my head, why to me, it was not the most beautiful place. The reason is very simple. Sri Lanka, despite its ocean views, is very much a proper third world country.

So? You might ask. I can feel you all bristle at this. You are ready to tell me off for being snobbish or thinking I was somehow superior to normal people. But hey, before you judge, just remember there is one little, but important detail here; the detail that shapes my humble opinion, and gives me a certain right to it, like a black person allowed to make racist jokes. What you mustn’t forget is that, as opposed to Husband, or our Irish co-travelling friends, who all grew up in the Western world, I actually come from a third world country.

Dirt and poverty are not exotic to me; they are just dirty and poor.


If you grew up in a place where, walking into an elevator you had to pinch your nose and stand at the very edge to avoid stepping into urine puddles; if you felt like throwing up every time you got on a crowded bus because fellow passengers reeked as if they had never even seen a shower in their lives…If you had spent years suffering from awful stomach pains only to find out later in life you had been infected with Helicobacter Pylori…Ah, wait. Sorry. You might not know what that is. I shall tell you. That is an infection that is quite common in third world countries; and you get it mainly from getting exposed to water or food contaminated with feces. You are welcome.

Anyway, you get the picture. If you had spent years as a child growing up in a developing country, you might be a little affected by that for the rest of your life, in a way that makes it a little difficult to see the inner beauty of the third world.

But, forget all that. The villa where we stayed was in the whole galaxy far, far away, literally and figuratively, from all the third-worldliness, being a beautifully designed place with stunning ocean views. 

And that ocean…It took me a little while to get used to the noise. The rest of our company all thought it was funny that I did not find the ocean noise relaxing. But come on! 

You see, that ocean...It is not like any other seaside I have been to- and I know what I am saying, I have actually seen a lot of sea in my life, been quite fortunate that way. I had heard and seen waves before but not like these. You know how you hear warnings that the sea can be deceptive, that it might look really calm and inviting but can actually kill you? Well, not the Indian ocean. It does not pretend, or try to appear calm and inviting. It is proudly, in your face, menacing. Yes, it says, I can kill you in a second if I decide to. And it is absolutely stunning, in a bewitching, threatening, mysterious kind of way. I could sit there for hours just looking at those waves crashing against the rocks, absolutely mesmerised, in awe. It is amazing, it is beautiful, it is just impossible to forget. But relaxing? Never. 

So, if you asked me now, not whether Sri Lanka was the most beautiful place I have even been to, but what was the most beautiful memory I have taken away from there, I would say the ocean. Even right now, a week later, if I shut my eyes I can see those waves; and I would go back again, just to see and hear them. That ocean, without a doubt, is the most amazing thing about Sri Lanka. And the best part was that it was just everywhere. Wherever we went, however long we drove, it was always nearby. Remember how insignificant and fragile and perishable you are, it said. Remember that and enjoy every moment of your life. And try and visit somewhere with an ocean.