Saturday, 30 January 2010

Cultural Shenanigans

These are the last two culture shenanigans Q&A pages, from December and January issues of the MagAZine...Hope you can read them. Any suggestions and more questions are more than welcome! By the way, I could do with some questions from locals for a change. I am sure there are plenty of weird things expats do, that make you go "what the...???"



  1. Scary, I love this column! Your answers are to the point, and gosh, hiliarious too:) The naive traditional girl moving in with her "first" boyfriend just had it for me:))) Keep it up! I love yout work!

  2. I loved this column too. I really hope you may keep sharing it with your readers.
    By the way: I love the new heading of your blog and the picture of your profile.

  3. Scary,

    As a person who lived in Azerbaijan I agree with your advices in general.
    Nevertheless, it seems to me you overgeneralize too much. So, it looks like stereotypical depiction of reality.
    Would you mind to qualify your statements with words like "some", "sometimes", "mostly", "usually", "rarely" or whatever you feel right, in order to shun away potential stereotyping people?
    Also, it seems to me (I may misunderstand you though) your tone suggests some sense of superiority or, shall I say, bitterness in relation to Azerbaijanis (not necessarily in this post).
    I liked your advice about Azeri girlfriend who stakes at traditionalism.

    Good luck.


  4. ha-ha :) Azeri airplane dance :):) my poor husband ended up dancing it for a looong time, he was waiting for music to stop, it never did of course. He also wanted to know why bride and groom looked like they were both very upset and didn't like sitting next to each other. He still tells people about this wedding after 13 years. It’s a treat.

  5. Please Scary, what is Shenanigan? Is it a family name?

  6. @ Gabriela: Looked it up for you.

    she·nan·i·gan [ shə nánnigən ] (plural she·nan·i·gans)


    1. questionable act: something that is deceitful, underhanded, or otherwise questionable ( usually used in the plural )

    2. trick or prank: a playful trick, mischievous prank, or other display of high spirits

  7. @ Gabriela: Oh, good, I meant to ask you guys if you liked the new look. :) I got bored with the old heading. I wish I could afford to properly re-design this site, but not yet. :)

    @ Tatarin,

    Thank you for this constructive feedback.

    However, please do me a favour and look at this definition of satire:


    In fact, I am contemplating embedding it in this blog for everyone to read.

    I know it is a common thing for(hold on, I will try your advice just for this time) SOME Azeries to not get satire at all.

    It helps to laugh at yourself. Also, trust me- nobody will stereotype you ANY less, believe me, if you don't. I think that admitting to funny aspects of your culture and life is a healthy thing to do. That is just my personal view on this. I think you need to watch some more South Park cartoons.

    ¡Saludos! as Gabriela would say. :)

  8. Scary,

    Thanks for your advice, I will watch more South Park cartoons. Reading on satire was pure delight too and I'm sure writing a post on satire would help people like me to appreciate your style.
    Perhaps, I misunderstood you. But would you agree that your writing style or expressions about Azerbaijanis (by the way, I hope you don't assume that I'm azeri) may also contributes to persons' misunderstanding? Or its only my lack of knowledge on literary genres?

    yeah, of course...Saludos!


  9. Tatarin,
    Hi again,

    I was not sure what nationality you were, you just don't sound like a native English speaker. So I assumed you might be Azeri, but it is hard to tell. :)

    I am not sure what you mean by the writing style contributing to "persons' misunderstanding". But I don't have any problem with coming across slightly offensive. :) It is not really about writing styles, it is more about sense of humor, I think. :) And saying things other people will just think about but never say out loud.

  10. At least someone is poking fun at Azeri idiosyncrasies & expat cluelessness. Even if it’s heavily based on the stereotypes, but then again, isn’t all “cultural” milieus based on the stereotypes anyway? We, Azeries, take ourselves way to seriously and could be such bores. (I know I am.) So, kudos, Scary. Keep it up.

  11. Scary,

    Thanks for your response. I'm not native Azeri, but I'm not native English speaker either. Maybe that's the reason I misunderstood you. I'm sure you know better than I, how sense of humor can differ from culture to culture and from person to person.
    I spent in Baku several years so I agree what you say (who am I not to agree - after all you are azeri, not me.). But growing up in another colonized nation, I guess I'm more sensitive to issues of humor-stereotype.
    Coming across slightly offensive? - you know what, I need to learn how to do that.
    I'm new to your blog so I hope I will be able to appreciate your sense of humor.


  12. Are you anyhow "tatarin" by the way? I am curious. :) My grandmother was "tatarka"
    Anyway, people are wonderfully weird in their own ways. Cultural or personal, our differences make us all more interesting to get to know. So I appreciate you leaving these comments. and welcome to this blog, i hope you do enjoy it. :)

  13. Scary, it's a tribute to your English style that your satire can be mistaken for straight observation. Your choice of targets, the gentle mockery you use and the threads of reality you spin through it all are great fun. For every person who thinks you're doing a disservice to Azerbaijan, there must be many more whose perceptions of the country have been changed for the better by the wit you use to bring it to life. I loved the advice columns.

  14. I think that it would be a good idea to highlight the meaning of satire in your blog. It might help to create a niche, too. You are good at it, why not promote the methodology?

  15. @Bill: "The gentle mockery"! That's what it is. :) I will note it down to use in the future. :))
    but seriously, thanks for this.

  16. I wish I could put things into words like you:)

    The naive girl who moved in with her "first" boyfriend ...:))))) (you killed her!!).

  17. Where are these naive men? Why I can not find one? Always the "naive" girls get one ARGGGG