Wednesday, 16 September 2009



This is not my usual style of posting. More like a little sneaky mini-posting that goes in between postings.

It is just that…

There is a new magazine coming out in October back in Baku. It is similar to INBaku, and the lovely Scottish lady who used to be the editor there, will now be the editor here. She asked if I wanted to contribute, so of course I said yes.

So scary azeri will now appear in magAZine.

And then we thought it might be fun to add a scary azeri cultural issues column. It could be anything at all, as long as it involves culture clash: love, friendship, money, food, politics, religion, manners… (or the lack of them)-anything at all.

Of course, for a number of reasons, I can not be as outspoken or offensive in a magAZine as I would like to be. But yet, you can be sure I will try.

But, but, but…. in order to get the ball rolling, it would be great to have a couple of real questions from expats and/or locals who experienced cultural differences and found each other odd.

Of course, we can always make questions up ourselves- and I would not be Azeri if I had not thought of that option-but where is the fun in that?

So…If you can think of something funny or bizarre and would like to discuss, can you please email me on or leave a comment?

I will then pick a few best ones (or the ones I can answer) and they will appear in the next issue of magAZine with scary azeri’s replies.

I know what you might be thinking now. You are thinking –Who the hell do you think you are, some culture clash expert?

Well, in a way, I kind of am. I have lived in the UK for almost 10 years now; and am married to a Brit. I also am from Baku. I therefore know what I am on about. And even if I don’t, I will sure have an opinion on it anyway.

So please, please, please! Give me a question and keep an eye on the new magAZZZZZZine! First issue is out in October. I think.


  1. Congratulations on the column!!

  2. I'm not an expat, but if something comes to my mind I'll let you know.
    All the best!

  3. Many thanks Scary Azeri. Yes, I am the Editor of
    Az Magazine and it will be winging it's way to Baku in early October. I am delighted that Scary Azeri is sharing her words of wisdom and we hope that some of you will come forward with your worries or experiences and share them with us (and the thousands of readers). We will provide you with anonymity (of course!) Until then...

  4. If you put aside socio-political differences that are the products of historical prerequisites, like communism, the collapse of the USSR etc, you will still find a lot to talk about. As a housewife I was extremely surprised by the dish-washing process I happened to watch. My Australian (and I know that in Britain many people do the dishes the same way) friend did not actually wash the soapy water OFF the plates and glasses which she had rinsed IN the sink preliminarily filled with water and a few drops of dish washing liquid. She dried the dishes with a towel. You can write about the differences in aesthetics: Anglo-Saxons love their gardens dearly, and take such a wonderful care of them, and Azeri girls never wear track suits if they don't do sports. And actually - how much British lifestyle is attuned to the passion for fitness, and how little the role of muscular activities is in the Azeris' life.

  5. Well done Scary, look forward to reading your first column

  6. Sofisticos- you are so right on the subject of British dishwashing!! I am an ex- pat living in the UK and a friend was washing dishes at my home and was VERY offended when I politely rinsed off all of the dirty suds from my dishes!!!

  7. Congrats on the column Scary Azeri! Very exiting!

  8. Not a big deal, and doing it for free!! Until I actually have something I write and get paid for, I guess I am officially still an amateur.;)

  9. Gabriela,

    I love the fact you NEVER fail to leave me a nice comment. what will I do if you leave me one day????!!!!

  10. I've got an expat question! Alot of times I'll talk with folks about marriage. I work with alot of young women many who seem very western in their orientation. Yet when it comes to matchmaking many seem fatalistic about their choices.

    One young woman recently told her parents she wouldn't marry a man that they had proposed for her. I asked her if there was someone else -- someone else out there that she could see herself marrying -- and she said she couldn't answer that. It was too private.

    Where are the appropriate lines in terms of asking people about their relationships? I'm never quite sure when I'm stepping over some appropriate/inappropriate line and totally invading someone's privacy.

  11. Jessica,
    Thank you so much, this is just perfect!

    I am itching to reply right now, but of course I should not. :))

    I will definitely use this one for the first attempt! Will let you know when it comes out!

  12. I am a Peace Corps volunteer who will be going to Az in a week. I will definitely pick up a copy of the magazine!

  13. Congratulations, Scary! This is quite an accomplishment. I am sure we will see you in many other publications and one day with your own book in hand:) You deserve it. As to a question, I have a silly one. It's about smiling. Here in the US, it's normal to smile at people who pass by and who you have never met in your life. People smile, they strike conversations while standing in line and things of this nature. Things are not quite the same back in Az and you know it better than me. People look gloomy and unhappy. I know there are economical factors that play the role, but is it also a cultural thing?

  14. @ Farida: Thank you for the kind words. I hope some of your predictions come true!

    I did talk about smiling here and back home...
    Have a look:
    Smile when your heart is from Eastern Europe

  15. Oops, for some reason the link is not working.
    Have a look when you have time, I have it under the most popular postings on the left hand side

  16. Ahh, you are right:) I think I ever read it back then but never commented. How bad am I? I have to think of some other question:) Have you covered the wedding ceremonies yet? I don't recall reading about it here unless my eyes are getting blind and my brain is getting really old (which it does). You know when we have these lavish royal style weddings, and it really matters what people say about it afterward. The most traumatic experience must be when guests complain that there was not enough food on the table, although it was actually overflowing with it. Public opinion does matter. Things like this. Why are we like this? Now that I am writing about it, I feel like I've read about it somewhere. Gosh, my brain is bad these days:)

  17. Wow, great news, Scary Azeri! It's a lot of work but you will definetely have a lot of fans, it's an interesting column indeed.
    One thing that came in mind, in fact, we were talking to my sister about it a few days ago, is that Azeris in the West don't tend to be excited about meeting other Azeris or hang out together a lot. I mean, we do have some Azeri friends here and there, but in general, we are quite different from Indians, Persians, Mexicans, Philippinos etc, as they always create their own communities and "boil together". Is it because we are more comfortable in a western environment, with westerners that they are, or is it that we Azeris, perhaps all the ex-Soviets in fact, don't have strong diaspora or don't have a need to "belong"?

  18. As an American expat living here in Baku, I have loved reading your blog. As for suggestions on what to discuss, here are some things that surprised me living here...may be interesting to talk food (many local Azeri women I work with are always talking about how all the food in Azerbaijan is organic), remedies for colds (I've been told vodka mixed with jelly will cure strep throat), or what I find funniest...the horrible looks I get from peoples faces when they see me walking to the gym in my gym clothes. I prefer to shower and change at home, so I go back and forth to the gym and always get strange looks!

    Thanks, I look foward to reading your articles in the new magazine!

  19. Sevda...I am not sure this is 100% correct. I noticed that majority of azeries here do hang out together. I think it happens more so if the couple are both azeries though. I try to see some of my Baku friends here, but because we are not a 100% Azeri family, we have other friends too. :) Also, when it comes to Indians and some other nationalities, etc here, in the UK they tend to immigrate in hug3 groups! I mean, the whole family, cousins, relatives, everyone! I am always very jealous of that arrangement, I miss having a family of my own here.

  20. @ Alexandria: Welcome to my blog, and I hope you have great time in Az! I look forward to reading your blog about it! :)

    @ Kim: Thank you for visiting and for your topics...I was after an actual question, to be honest, so I could give an answer to a specific thing. So far most of you guys sent me interesting topics (and I might use them for this blog later) but not many questions as such. :)