Thursday, 21 May 2009
I noticed this week, that I am getting older. And I am not talking about wrinkles or getting tired more easily. It is the fact that I am showing first signs of dementia.
As I now have a beautifully decorated kitchen-diner….I decided I should purchase some sexy bits for it. You know, something to go on those lovely “cooking apple green” walls.
And it just so happens, that there is a lovely kitchenware shop right near my work.
For some bizarre reason, I thought some tiny oil paintings of cupcakes stretched on little square wooden frames were 50p. each. Nothing costs 50p. these days. Even in Baku. Especially in Baku! So what happened to my brain that I thought they could cost so little?
I did not like them, somewhat because I thought they were just too cheap. Having walked around and thought about it, I figured I liked them enough for 50 p each.
I rushed back in the shop, and I am just glad I looked at the price sign again. Of course they were not 50p, you silly cow! They were £50 each.
Thankfully, I checked before I said to the shop assistant that I would have “three of those, please”. How awfully embarrassing would that be! As an Azeri, I would have to remain unfazed by it, and pretend it was all cool when she said that would be 150 pounds, please. I would keep a straight face, smile and pass my card over. As if it were normal to pay 50 quid for a tiny wooden square with a stupid cupcake on it. Just because it was done by some trendy young artist, who probably bikes them in, wearing blue tights and a hand-knitted shapeless cardigan.
I walked out of the shop, still amazed how I could be such a moron.
And that’s when I realized, it must be my age. I must simply be getting old.
Because, this is precisely the kind of thing my father would do. The kind of thing that would make me cringe.
Once, about four years ago, when I was visiting Baku, my dad wanted to buy me a present. I had been looking for a nice ethnic rug then. ( Like a proper foreigner. When I lived in Baku I thought those rugs were too ethnic, and not western and modern enough.
Nowadays I kick myself for not having bought a huge lot like all my expat friends did. The rugs were cheap then, and the customs guys had not yet realized they could make decent money on stopping you taking them out of the country. )
So, one day dad called and excitedly announced that he found the perfect rug for me, and I had to come right away. He took me to one of the most expensive little shops in the old town where, in the dark and cool basement, a man rolled out a pretty rug. Which I knew, sadly, my father could not have afforded. I was getting nervous, however he appeared very confident.
"How much was it again?"- he asked casually, taking out Azeri manats.
“300”- said the shop owner, glancing suspiciously at my father’s money,- “Dollars” -he then added. My father was shocked. He thought the rug cost (those days) 5 times less than it really was being sold for.
I felt awful. It is one of those moments I wish I could go back in time and fix somehow, just to save my father’s grace. But I could not. It was a disaster. Personally, I did not give a damn about the shop owner and what he thought about us. But I knew my dad was not happy. He wanted to treat me, wanted to impress me with his skills of finding such a good deal. I was very frustrated for him, but also annoyed thinking: how on earth could he ever think that rug could cost 300 manats? How, at his age, could he be so naive? Because, my father is smart, and creative, and talented. But as it often happens to creative types, he is just not street wise, and lacks any common sense, whatsoever. Which is, sadly, a big problem if you are a male, and live in Azerbaijan.
And now, running away from the trendy kitchen shop, I was thinking of my dad…and the rug story. Was I turning into my father? I have lived here for so long, and I know how much things cost. I know what is in fashion (and silly cupcake pictures are totally in right now) and which shops over-charge you for just walking into them. So what the hell happened to me then? 50 pence…My a***!