Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Baku? Why not?


A friend complained the other night that I had been too lazy and had not blogged for too long. He made that comment straight after a discussion about people's intimate parts and what was considered ugly… or simply different, perhaps, as I really do think it is a matter of personal opinion (and thank goodness for that). I had, you see, once asked my Filipino waxing lady beautician, as you do, and she had shared some fascinating info with me, which I thought was hilarious. I mean, when I asked her if she had seen really ugly…parts...I did not quite expect her to give me an analysis by nationalities.So look, I said to this friend, sometimes what I want to talk or joke about is probably- well, most definitely!- is going to get me in trouble if I put it on the blog. So I am, sadly, a little limited in what I can publish these days. And I strongly dislike being limited when it comes to writing. It smothers my mojo!

Anyhow, he had a good point. I have been very lazy and distracted. But, I did promise to blog about my recent trip to Baku, which is a totally acceptable, as in is not about intimate body parts, and is a good, decent topic so here we are. I can totally talk about this.

So… guess what?I went to Baku! A few weeks ago. With six other girls. The fact itself is nothing unusual of course, but what you have to understand is that going to your home country with people who had never been there before is a totally different experience. In addition to that, going with someone who has a lot more money than you and is used to having things done her own, princess way, is also a totally different- and pretty awesome! - experience.


I have a girlfriend here, in Doha, who loves to celebrate her birthdays abroad. It is just something she always does, and can afford to, so why the hell not, right? She loves to celebrate it somewhere like London or Dubai, in style and with best girlfriends around. This year, she decided she wanted to go somewhere more exotic and different. Why not Baku, she exclaimed? Why not indeed!

When you fly with Princess, which is what I am going to refer to the birthday girl from now on, you learn how princesses live. You and your suitcases get picked up by her driver and taken straight to the separate, VIP building at the airport in advance. You in the meantime relax at her house with an early dinner. You then get driven to that VIP building (which I never even knew existed until then) where you relax in a private room, while everything gets done for you and then, like movie stars, you get taken right to the air plane in a BMW. (Yeah, take that, all you common lot!)

In Baku, we jumped in a white minibus provided by the hotel and the fun started immediately. Baku air is wild. It intoxicates you. With the windows wide open, no seat belts, wide roads empty in the night, Lambada (Really? Lambada?) blasting from the car radio, we get driven fast into town, cackling loudly like a bunch of witches.

When you only have a weekend to show your friends your hometown, where do you go? What will they like? I took them to the Icheri Sheher. I really wanted to show them the Shirvanshakhs Palace but the place was closed that day for a ‘function’. So, instead, we just wandered around the old cobbled streets and drank an awful lot of chai. The girls messed with sheep wool hats and bought strange, completely not ethnic? enormous bead necklaces, which I of course, made rude comments about.  An old owner of a carpet shop was not impressed by our silliness and told us to get losted. The knowledge of English is definitely improving in Baku.

For our first dinner I took them to the good old Mugham club. It was just as I remembered it. The music, the little courtyard with the old trees, the food…Just beautiful. Of course, we had to struggle to get to it on high heels, since our van was not allowed to drive up to the restaurant. Even Princess with her whole powerful presence and attitude could not influence the policemen guarding the old city.  But isn’t all this just part of the local charm?

The next day, I took them to a Georgian restaurant to eat khingeli and drink Tarkhun- a bright green, most likely carcinogenic, lemonade of my childhood. One of us really wanted some whiskey. Yes, I know, it was a lunchtime but hey, we were witches on a holiday, so why not? As we walked in the Georgian place, I saw a selection of impressive drinks displayed on top of a large wooden cabinet. Right in the middle, a bottle of J&B stood tall and proud. Look, I said to the friend, you can actually have it here! Check it out! We have everything in Baku now!

Sorry, the waiter explained, those bottles are for decoration only. I know, it is difficult to understand but you are somewhere different, just remember that. File the decorative whiskey under the local charm, too.

The most disappointing thing, and surprisingly so, was the nightlife. I remembered it being pretty good, in my young Baku days, but perhaps my standards and my understanding of what was cool were somewhat different. I thought clubbing would be better now, or the same but not worse. We were told that Energi was good. But Energi was just wrong, and if you asked me why I would not be able to really explain. The music was good, and the venue was impressive. However something was lacking and that something was significant. I think it was the crowd. When we eventually ended up on the Saturday night in Buddha-Bar it was a totally different story. The people were like I wanted them to be- that bit more sophisticated. Even the hookers looked classier somehow.

What amused me the most from this trip was that waiters (and I don’t know why I am so surprised) simply smelled money on my friend. She would walk in a crowded bar, like Buddha-bar that Saturday night when the girl on the phone had already told me there were absolutely NO tables available, not even at the bar…and request a table, nicely, politely, yet in a tone that made it clear that this lady was not used to being told 'no'. Look honey, she said, what is your name? Irina! What a pretty name. Please, Irina we so need your help here.. My friends and I…My name is (and here she tells you her name in a way that immediately fills you with a terrifying thought that she is someone very famous, and you are just a major uneducated idiot for not recognising her)…and we need you to find us a nice table straight away please darling. And of course, a table (‘no, I don’t like this one Irina, darling, please can we have a better one?’) appears almost immediately.

And on the last night, when we sat in a beautiful garden of Channaq Gala, one of my favourite local places, I laughed and pointed out to my mother that only last summer we had struggled to get a waiter to not only order anything but even to pay the bill! However, as we sat there with my friend, there were, I swear, possibly about twelve people constantly waiting around in case we needed something. It was truly an amazing experience.

It might sound like we focused our trip around food, and well, that is very true. And the food is so good, so why wouldn’t we? My friends all loved Marivanna, one of my personal favourites, as well as Narsharab, the seafront restaurant where we drank a lot of beer and ate sturgeon fish kebab.

We ate and we drank and we danced and we ate some more. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly, and small children dancing national dances on the stage at the Bulevard almost made me cry.


All in all, it was a fantastic trip and made me feel all proud of my hometown, which was an unusual kind of feeling for me, really. All those years ago all I wanted to do was to run away from there, and now I go back regularly and take friends to show them just how nice it is? Madness. True madness.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Looking good as a full-time job?



An old friend of mine has a very busy life. She works full time, and has a small business of her own, teaching art to kids. I admire her a lot. I keep thinking how on earth does she actually have time for all that, and getting old? Because, as I am thinking these days, getting old for a woman who wants to continue looking decent, is a full time job.

Of course, there is always an easy option of just letting yourself go. It is very tempting. Not only is it easy, and cheap…It also gets approval from other middle-aged ladies. They will never openly admit that they are just loving the fact that someone looks worse than them, they will just say’ Oh, I admire how little attention Sarah pays to her looks! Sarah is not vain at all! She has more important things in life to worry about!' Yeah, yeah....that's just great. 

In the meantime, Sarah looks like this:



My grandmother used to say in Azeri, while applying lipstick on her way out to a food market, Dost var, dushman da var. There are friends, and there are enemies out there. A woman should always try to look her best.

The problem is…if I wanted to look my best right now, there would be endless things to get, apply and/or do that would basically, take all my time. And all my money. 

I am not exaggerating. Let’s just look at this.

Body.

There are of course, obvious things, like trying to stay slim and working out. Trying to stay slim does not only mean hours of exercise, but of course balanced diet which means looking into what you cook, what you eat, which for some of us can take a while. It is calculating your fats, protein and carbs...Drink water! 

And back to the exercises...It is not simple. The best idea, really, is to do weight training AS WELL as cardio. Great! No problem. But, don’t forget you have to stretch. So, chuck in a couple of hours of yoga or pilates in your weekly routine.

You start loosing weight, great. But then...omg, your face! 

Face.

The more weight you loose, the worse it looks on your aging face. So, you either need to invest in fillers, threads and botox or do some facial workouts. There are plenty of videos on Youtube, most claim to transform your sagging double chin and other problem areas in as little as 15 minutes per day. That’s nothing, right?

Don’t forget about the skin. As you age, facemasks and facials are a must. Feed the skin often. 

Drink water! 

Your hair will need more attention, too. You will probably need to have regular colour treatment. As you kill the hair roots with chemicals, balance it out with keratin or argan oil hair masks and treatments to keep it healthy.

Then, I read somewhere recently that, after childbirth, doing your regular pelvic floor exercises might not be enough if you want to tone up, you know, down below. Right, I thought. Tight muscles everywhere- wouldn’t that be nice? A special machine can be purchased, as I discovered, with various programs, depending on your desired goal. Each program is about 20 to 40 minutes and in order to achieve noticeable results (to feel like a virgin again!) you need to stick to your program daily for 12!!! Weeks. 12 weeks of spending 40 minutes every day doing this bizarre exercise I am not even going to describe here. Thereafter, you could just do it every now and again. 

Drink more water.

OK, so let’s summarize. Hours of working out. Stretch. Some tummy flattening exercises, like vacuum.... Pelvic floor exercise. Some facial exercises. That’s it, right? Right? 

Then I see this.

 7 Super Effective Yoga Poses for Beautiful Breasts



Mother ffff….OK, I should try and do them! Maybe, to use my time in a more efficient manner, I could combine the beautiful breast exercises with the stretching for overall body’s benefit yoga time I already have allocated above.

I hear you scream "enough already!' and cover your ears, but no, of course we have not finished yet. You must not forget about the brain! Last but not the least. The brain, as we get older, needs exercising just like any other muscle of our older body. It needs a program too. Like Lumosity. Probably another 30 minutes a day. Then, as we taken care of all the muscles- facial, vaginal, body and brain, it is time to think about the rest of it, deep inside. We need to take supplements. A lot of various supplements! Vitamin D3. Fish oil. Probiotics. Protein shakes, and CLA for weight loss.

Now, unless I am forgetting something-due to lack of brain exercise, which I simply don't have the time for- we are finally done

Oh, yes and drink more water. 





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.