Saturday, 29 May 2010

The truth about Eurovision- whether you like it or not.

I have a feeling Safura might actually win. Azeries all over the world will be celebrating. This project seems to have been the focus of the whole nation and the object of considerable investment. As the BBC Breakfast show presenter commented this morning, a lot of talent was bought in by Azerbaijan, including the song composer and Beyonce’s choreographer.
I hope all this attention is good for the country. I hope all those poor pensioners in Azerbaijan appreciate that it was more important to invest in the arguably most talentless music show in the world, than increase their minimum pension.  Everyone is talking about Azerbaijan being the hottest favourite in this year’s Eurovision. How much of that talk is generated by the funds behind it, we will never know. One thing is for sure, the world is fascinated just how seriously Azeries  took their entry this year.
One  positive thing I can say about Safura is that she does seem to have a strong, powerful voice. Considering she is only 17, I wonder if she has an amazing future ahead of her.  Of course, she needs to drop those cheap seductive poses, the sultry gazes and the parted rain-catching sensual lips ... but that is not entirely the poor girl’s fault, is it.
The song itself is appalling, especially the drip drop part, but catchy in a very annoying, can't-get- rid- of- it, way. And very Eurovision. Because-and many of you might disagree, either because you have no taste  or just believe you have to like it to support your country- I just have to say...
Eurovision is crap
It is the cheesiest show that currently exists in this world.
The BBC presenters this morning were discussing why the UK seems to have this somewhat snobbish attitude towards the Eurovision; whilst a lot of other countries seem to be taking it so seriously. 
To me, the answer is obvious. The countries that take Eurovision seriously simply have no good pop music. They are hopelessly behind, and will never catch up, unless they stop investing national funds into crap.
When I was a little girl, we were incredibly hungry for anything cool and western; and the only time we got to listen to something cool and western was on the New  Year’s eve. We would stay up all night, waiting through the boring Soviet New Year programs until the early hours in the morning, when the Sanremo festival would glue us to the screens.  The inspiration behind the Eurovision, it was a glimpse into the western life and music.  I would sit the whole New Year’s eve at home with my old- fashioned tape recorder ready to be taping every song.  I wonder if, in a way, despite all the best music now easily available back home, Eurovision has the similar allure. Perhaps, it goes all the way back to Sanremo times, when we thought it was cool to watch it? Or is it because, for countries like Azerbaijan, Eurovision is the only chance to feel like a part of the world’s pop culture?
Of course, I wish Safura all the success tonight. Compared to some other entries she does seem to have it all. (Well, almost all. Except for the moves. The poor girl can’t move even with the help of the Beyonce’s choreographer.)  
I am all for Azerbaijan getting more known in the world. It will help me personally- I won't have to explain where and what it is every time I meet someone new.
I just wish it was known for something else but the lack of style or taste, which Eurovision represents.  
It makes me cringe when I watch the official Drip Drop video.

I feel embarrassed for the country. And frustrated, too. Because, Azerbaijan does actually have good music. Hiding behind the curtain of corruption and cheesy facade, struggling to survive in the country that invests a fortune into the trashiest song contest in the world, there are some truly unique young talents. Never to be discovered, never to be known to the world. So... yes. Great job, Azerbaijan! Let’s get famous for our lack of style and taste! Bravo. Or Bravissimo as they would say in Sanremo.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Give my mother back, you Farmville bastards!

'Oh, he is catching up with me again, cheeky son of a bitch! He is level 51 now, can you believe it??'

'Oh, no no...only 3 seconds and "sorry been claimed already?" How fast are those guys??? Crazy!'

'Quick, quick! Golden egg has been posted!'

'Do you want a collection?'

'My dog needs more treats. Just send me some treats, please?'

'Do you want some more materials for your stable?'

These are just some of the things my 60+ year old mother said to me today.

If none of these sentences make any sense to you, whatsoever, then you are in a healthy minority in this world. The minority who have life.

What does one do when her mother is obsessed with a computer game?

I knew it was bad but I never knew it was this bad. The woman is possessed by the Farmville demons. Even when we are doing something important, she asks for 'five more minutes'. Can’t let the coop members down, you see.

Husband has a brilliant plan for this farmbook as he keeps calling it. He wants to hack into it and plan endless amounts of drugs.

Oh, neighbours will think. A very interesting farm you have got going on over there. Just lots of poppies and green houses with strange blue light inside. Not your average “horti-fucking- culturalist” as they said.

My mother is not alone in her addiction. She is obsessively competing with her neighbour, an older ex-teacher in Baku,a respectable Azeri man. A father and a husband with real life responsibilities. He is driving me insane. I get demanding emails from him asking to join the coop ASAP, ensure i plant enough grapes and harvest in time.

I am curious whether the creators of Farmville thought it would work this well across all nationalities and ages. Surely, when they planned to take over the world, they must have had a certain demographic group in mind? But nope. It works equally well on my 4 year old child, my sexy and glamorous single girlfriend in Moscow, and a 60+ year old Azeri male. This game has no boundaries.

I try to not get too annoyed. Even when we are about to leave the house and my mother is at her laptop, hitting those keys hard and fast-trying to grab that golden egg before her neighbour in Baku gets it first... I am thinking, maybe it is her thing, you know? Mine is blogging. Hers is Farmville. I have no right to complain. And between you and me...I was the one who got her into it.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Armenians made me!

Oh, well. I might as well share this with you.

Otherwise, you might find out anyway-when I am properly famous, you know- and take offence I had not told you before. Also, once you become a blogger, you have to be prepared to expose some embarrassing aspects of yourself to whoever bothers to witness.

I did ask him nicely not to. Because, it was not an interview we were getting together for. It was to finally meet in person. A few Azeries meeting a few Armenians in London. Peace, friendship, festival as we say in Russian. Only, there is one particular British/Armenian journalist I don’t feel very peaceful towards right now! Not only I sound stupid (thanks to quite a few Pimm's and Lemonade) I also look terrible. But of course, he puts it all over Twitter and Facebook!

The original idea was to combine me with unzipped: gay Armenia blog which I thought was just a brilliant step towards the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace (friendship, festival...etc) making process.

Just imagine....

Scary Azeri and an Armenian gay rights activist. In one video interview. Sharing Pimm's and Lemonade in London. How impossibly cool would that be? But noooo...some people chickened out. I would like- for the peace-making record- to point out that I, Scary Azeri, was doing my part.

At some point, there was an sms from Husband on my phone:

Are you safe with the Armenians?

We sent a reply:

No she is not. That's why we have her phone.

I will hunt you down, husband replied. To get the iPhone.

Anyway, here it is.

Thankfully, it is short. And can I just add:

Remember, camera puts on a few pounds.

Also, I do have eyes in real life. I don’t know why they disappear after a few drinks and during a lot of laughing. I really do have eyes. Oh, well. Whatever! Cheers, Onnik. It was great to finally meet you in person. No bastourma, but I did get a nice b&w book of photos of Armenia. Something every scary Azeri should have on her coffee table.

Peace, Friendship, Festival.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Cold hands and other jokes

Had quite a nice talk the other night, with one of the mummies from school. Some people are genuinely fascinated by other cultures and places. This one was, too. She was very curious. She wanted to know what the Soviet times were like, and what it was like now...She was not asking me if we, Russians (I am NOT....ah, whatever) all shared one bed together, but she asked questions I had to think about before I answered, which I always enjoy.

For instance, she wanted to know if, during the Soviet times, we felt like part of one culture and nation. Or did the individual republics manage to maintain their own personalities within it.

Well, yes I said, we were all one big country, but i would not say that we all felt the same.

We always knew we were slightly different. Yes, we were all equal, with Russia being more equal than the rest. But despite being one country, we were all very different. If you allow me some light-hearted generalization, then I could tell you that Kazakhs loved their horse meat and Azeries were famous for selling stuff at markets. Armenians were known for their cognac and sense of humour, and Georgians- for music, vine and richness of culture. Ukrainian women were the most beautiful, and Russians were drinking too much but had a huge soul. And of the whole Caucasus region were supposed to be hot and passionate, but Lithuanians had the reputation of the best lovers.

So yes, of course we were different.

'What were the good things about it?' she asked.

'Bananas', I said. 'They tasted sooooo much better after we had to queue for them for an hour! And now what? I can get them in any supermarket, piled up on shelves. Not the same.'

She also wanted to know what it was like now.

'It is corrupt, isn’t it?' she asked. In what ways, she wanted to know. How was it corrupt?

Where do I even start? Do I start with the road police, who would stop you to beg for some cash? 'Come on, brother', they would say, 'I had no lunch today!'

Do I tell you how much certain positions and jobs cost? Shall I tell you that everything new set up, however honest it was at the beginning, is bound to change eventually as the locals take over? Shall I tell you that I can’t imagine what it would take for it to change, let alone how long?

Or shall I just tell you a popular anecdote I heard a while ago?

One day our president’s wife was greeting her husband in heaven. She had been dead for ages and could not wait for him to join her.

'Oh, honey! So great to see you at last!',she exclaimed, 'But why are your hands so cold???'
'Have you not heard?' the dead president responded 'They kept me in a fridge for months!!!'

'Was that true??' the mummy asked.

'Oh, who knows?', I said. 'It is a joke, you know?'

'Wow', she said. 'You do come from a fascinating background that’s for sure!'
And I had not even told her about Stalin murdering my grandparents.

It was a fun night.

Friday, 14 May 2010

I hate you, Jim Carrey.

One of the main reasons I love the school my child goes to now (but might not go to from September) is that, somehow, it feels like it is all about the mummies. Yes, it is a good school; yes it gets great Ofsted reports. Whatever. It is about the mummies first. Our coffee mornings, our play dates, lunches and charity events. It reminds me of back home.
Selfishly, I quite like that.

Tomorrow night we are attending a school ball. It is supposed to be a black tie event, and everyone is getting ready. Spray tan, pedicures and whatever else...
I am ready too. As always, when something important is coming up, I look like sh**t.

My nose is red due to the nasty cold, and now- thanks to the suction cups my mother kindly massaged me with last night- my back is covered in the blackish-purplish round bruises. Do I have to mention my long black dress is low-cut at the back? And of course, my eye got infected- just in time; so I cant wear contacts. So I think I will definitely steal the show.

But -enough moaning!

I was going to tell you about the other event we recently organized and attended.

It was a charity private movie viewing in a member’s only club in Soho. Very posh.

I could not miss such an event. I like posh. I also rarely visit Soho these days, being a boring suburban mama with endless health issues, so I was excited at this chance to prove to the world I am still cool and trendy. I like trendy.

And even the fact that the film had Jim Carrey in it, did not stop me.

You know I am an intolerant person. So it won’t surprise you if I tell you that I hate Jim Carrey.

In a way, watching this film gave me an almost masochistic pleasure. I am simply amazed how a human being can be so repulsive in every little detail. Not only his smile, which, of course, is the worst part of him, but even the back of his head makes me want to kill him.

I get distracted, sorry. What I wanted to tell you is this:

if you feel strongly against one of the following:

a) Porn
b) Gays
c) Gay porn
d) Jim Carrey
e) Jim Carrey- naked
f) Jim Carrey- naked and gay involved in gay porn

Then I would strongly recommend that you DO NOT watch I Love You Phillip Morris

I don’t really like porn, and I - have I told you? - hate Jim Carrey. But I don’t get shocked too easily, so I laughed at the rude moments, and overall, enjoyed the evening.

But even more than the movie itself, I enjoyed the heavy, stunned silence in the private cinema room. The silence coming from a few very square, very decent mothers who came along to participate for charity.

Right in the front there was a little table with an ice bucket and two bottles of wine in it. I had finished my G&T by then and kept wondering if I could sneak up to the table in the dark, without getting noticed. But I did not dare. The atmosphere was just too....heavy.

I felt naughty enough that I kept giggling every time penis-shaped clouds appeared in the sky. They were so big I could feel all those serious church goers in the room freeze in shock and fear and reach for their chains in the dark- to punish themselves for what they had just seen. And when Ewan Mcgregor went down on Jim Carrey in the boat...Well, I thought some of them would leave. But they did not. Maybe, deep inside, they were curious, you know? Not your average suburban mama movie, let me tell you. Oh and by the way, Ewan Mcgregor was absolutely f***ing superb.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Just trees and nothing but the trees.

You can’t have it all.

If you live in a warm country, where it is dry almost every day of the year, you can’t expect such magnificent trees.

Some prickly bushes, maybe. But this lush greenery everywhere you glance, this endless variety of colours... you can only get if you are prepared to put up with miserable rainy days for most of the year.

Trees here are amazing. And right now, they are in their prime. Magnolias, cherries and apricots...stunning.

But not all of it is due to the miserable rain. Brits look after their plants.

I already talked about their obsession with nature. The trees in this country get looked after much better than people. Take my job. If they want to get rid of a person, it is a lot easier, let me tell you. But the trees are very hard to chuck away.

My boss spent over 6 months trying to get one old tree removed in our yard at work. We were expanding, and needed a new wing added to our building. The old tree was in the way. But it was protected. One of my most favourite colleagues was also getting old, but was not as well protected as the tree. So when they decided it was time for him to retire, he had to go. It was a bit more complicated to retire the old tree. We almost had to build around it.

I also knew this very wealthy guy who recently moved to a rich area of NW London and decided to buy a house. In his garden, there was a tree that, according to the rich guy, looked pretty dead. He was hoping to have it removed; however he could not just take it out. He had to call two independent commissions, and both of them decided the tree was not quite dead yet. The fact that the guy was ludicrously rich and happy to pay as much as was needed did not help. The fact that it was, in theory, his garden did not get him any further either.

But back home, things are much simpler.

I grew up in a building surrounded by parks. The trees there were not as green and not as tall as the ones I see here. But they were still lovely old trees. And now, so many of them are gone. It is really not a big deal back home, you see. Who cares about trees? They chop the old ones down and plant new ones- I don’t quite get the logic behind it, but there must be some. Or, they invest in shiny acrylic ones that light up at night. Sty-lish. No trees, no shade in the summer heat. Just big empty squares, steps and pretty fountains with lights.

I feel bad for one particular tree I loved when I lived in Baku. A very large Cupressus.

It was there all my life, in the middle of a large park. As a child, I loved running up to it as fast as I could, look up and feel as if it was falling on top of me. It also had large gaps in its base; and when we were older, we would hide in there or build a pretend house.

Now, every time I go back, I just get to stare at the locked gates. No more park, no more trees. Just some ugly cold buildings inside.

Monday, 10 May 2010

One very smelly evening

I am so not having a good time right now.

Not only I have to go through this school palaver; I also started getting vertigo attacks again. It happened before, and the GP thinks it might be my vestibular apparatus. Or, speaking in simple terms, my inner ear is not behaving itself.

She also thought it was a good idea for me to try Epley's manoeuvre at home. Which involves me leaning past horizontal position with my head to one side. I am not trying to be technical or anything, but that would simply not work. The only two places I can think of in my house where I could attempt that manoeuvre would be my bed or the dining table. In both cases I would probably break my neck.

In the meantime, my inner ear makes its mind up every morning- whether I am going to have a normal day, or not be able to move at all.

So, I was really looking forward to my mother’s arrival. Someone to whinge to.

I scheduled it just right, so that it would start when husband went away for a few days.

Last night was the first night my mother was here, and we both looked forward to a relaxing dinner with a glass of vino and a good chat.

It all started going wrong with Tesco chicken wings. The sell by date was only a day ago; and mother, who dismisses British use by dates as over-cautious, claimed they smelled just fine.

I had just put my child to bed, and, as I walked down the stairs, the stench hit me like a wave. It quickly filled the house and was travelling rapidly up the stairs. It smelled like we tried to roast something decomposing.

I quickly switched off the oven and threw the wings out. It is OK, I thought. We could order some Chinese delivery. We could still have our relaxing dinner.

I was hoping that the smell of the takeaway would disguise the stench of the chicken wings.

We were pretending to enjoy the meal and ignore the lingering smell, when I heard a nasty crash upstairs followed by my daughter’s hysterical cry. She tried to switch off the light in her room and fell of her little chair. My child, when very upset,can scream herself into getting sick. So she puked.

She puked all over her bedroom floor, on the way to the bathroom and into the bath tub. It took me half an hour to calm her down and clean up the puke. By then, my dinner got cold.

Just when we thought the smells in the house could not get any worse, the dog decided it was time for him to join us in the room. His bottom let out the most revolting smell you can ever imagine. My mother, you see, believes in over-feeding everyone in our family, including her favourite pet. She also thinks that by having castrated the poor animal a few years ago, we removed all the basic pleasures from his short live. He cannot have sex and he cannot fight- what is the point of living? So she gives him leftovers, whenever the coast is clear. Which results in the most horrendous lingering, liquid farts you can possibly imagine.

So there we go. As I said...NOT having a good time.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Make chocolates not war


I would like you all to memorize today as the first day of me becoming a real celebrity. A very small, malenkiy one, but still a celebrity. Because, today for the first time ever, I received a gift from my follower.

One day a week or so ago, I had an email from one of my most dedicated blog readers, Gabriela. 'I want to send you something by post' she said.

Hmm I thought.

Of course, I know Gabriela. I have seen her face on her blog, I have read her articles on global voices online. I know who she is- as far as virtual friends go.

I bet she is a man’, my boss declared. 'I bet she is a stalker'.

I got defensive. 'Why?' I said. 'What are you saying? Can’t a girl be a stalker?' The boss retreated. Nobody wants to be accused of sexual discrimination.

I wrote to Gabriela and told her that I hoped she understood, but I did not feel comfortable to disclose my home address to anyone I met online. But was more than happy for her use my work one.

Fortunately, Gabriela understood. And today, a small yellow jiffy bag with a lot of Peruvian stamps appeared on my desk.

I warned the colleagues it might be a bomb or anthrax, in which case perhaps I should open it outside the premises. They laughed, and I took that as a sign of their approval for me to go ahead. I ripped the bag and out came…...


Or, as Gabriela explained in her note, homemade tejas.

Part of me, drained by the recent stress of the school allocation f** up, secretly hoped they were packed with Peruvian marijuana. Or some other, more powerful substance. But I doubt it. If I know Gabriela-and I feel that I do-I doubt they have anything dodgy in them at all. I tried only one for now, as I have to watch that waistline, and I have to say:

Gabriela, they are fantastic!

What is even more amazing is that they are home made. Hand made. By Gabriela herself! I have no idea how it is possible-they look totally professional. Individually wrapped, with different fillings in them. Plum, raisin, coconut and pecan. The chocolate is delicious and smooth. Traditional Peruvian desert- just for me. How about that, eh?

How totally cool is that, I ask you?

I thought I should tell you about this for a number of reasons:

a) I wanted to announce to the world what a lovely person Gabriela was and thank her publicly.

b) It will demonstrate how much some followers must like scary azeri blog! So screw you, Sevdas and Atillas.

c) You never know, it might start a new trend, as some other followers might feel like they should send me lovely presents, too. Human nature, you know. Remember though: it does not have to be handmade chocolates. I’ll accept personal cheques too.

But really, I just wanted to say…

Gabriela, you are amazing. Thank you so much. Everyone else- be inspired by this example of generosity! Let it be your guide in life. Send love and chocolates across the borders, I say. Make chocolates, not war.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Murder she wrote

I quite like old ladies. I find them very sweet. They remind me of my grandmother, which brings an occasional tear to my eye. If I can help them, I will and if I can make them feel good by listening to them, I normally don’t mind. Normally.

The other day, I was coming back from having a facial, all relaxed and happy, when husband called.

‘Do you fancy a coffee?’ He asked.

I never say no to a coffee, no matter who is asking.

‘Sure’, I said ‘I am just on my way back’.

It was a sunny morning and we sat outside the cafe in the middle of the village, watching the world go by.

That is when this old lady noticed us.

She had a newspaper in her hand with a big section dedicated to Russia Today. It made her think of me, she said. Of course it did.

We know the old lady pretty well. She lives nearby and is very pleasant. Once, about two years ago, I stopped on the street to chat to her. I was in a good mood. She started telling me about her ongoing war with the local authorities. Something to do with some chimney that got taken down, something to do with her garden...something that I stopped focusing on after about 2,5 minutes.

Husband did not know that story. Neither did he know that by asking any questions he would encourage the old lady to tell it all over again.

'Is that the same war you told me about two years ago?' I asked her, kicking husband under the table. What that question was meant to imply was that I had already once endured her storytelling, and do not deserve to go through it again.

‘Oh yes, indeed!’ She said, and pulled the free chair out.

After a few long minutes, my eyes glazed over. After five more minutes, I put my shades on- I was worried she would recognize the growing desire in my eyes. The desire to kill.

After ten more minutes, I decided I had to urgently learn about Russia today.
Every time she paused, I prayed for husband to just keep silent and stop encouraging her in her tirade. I tried to mentally communicate a message to him, but he was not getting it.

Husband seemed to be enjoying it. He told her a story, too. She laughed, and ordered a cup of tea. She then continued with her local authorities and developers saga. All in all, it took roughly forty minutes. I know that for a fact, because I kept glancing at my watch. Yes, I was rude. But don’t worry- she did not notice.

And I thought: this is what we must be like right now, with our saga with school allocation. Soon, we will have no friends left. But it happens to all of us when we are obsessed with something or somebody. I remember this girl I knew, who kept talking about her ex-husband. You would do your best to divert the conversation but it would never last more than a minute.

‘It is so sunny today’ you could be saying, only for her to sigh: ‘Oh, yes and it was just as sunny on the day Michael left me’....

So I was just thinking that we should try hard to never become like that girl I knew. Or the old lady who I wanted to kill that day. Me, who adores old ladies.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A woman with no legs

OK so we did not get the school we wanted.

Not only that.

My poor child is the only one from the class of 28 kids who got offered a place somewhere outside the village. You see, when I told you that we would most probably end up in one of the two schools we were close to.... I was wrong. I spoke too soon. I did not know that our house fell in an educational hole, a sort of a vacuum between two lucky areas. Everyone on our left ended up in the school we wanted. Everyone on our right- in the school we did not really want, but which would have been okay.

We, living right in the middle, ended up with nothing.

So, I thought this is what it would feel like if I had some horrific disease, like a terminal cancer. Or, maybe, if I had no legs. Yes, one day I had legs, and suddenly someone (the local council to be precise) chopped them both off. And then, in the morning, when I had to bring my child back to school, I had no legs. So everyone stared. They looked at my crippled bleeding body and hugged me tight. “It will be OK” they said, thinking to themselves “Hmm..It won’t’ really. The woman has no legs! “

I had a stunning bouquet of flowers from one friend whom I was meeting for lunch, and, when I got home., another friend stopped by with cream cakes. "I am so, so sorry she said. It will be OK."
Oh, and another one gave my child a nice present.

What's next then? you might ask. Well, husband is busy composing appeals and checking where we are on the waiting list. As for me, I am thinking I should camp outside the school with a board and a hat- to start collecting money for my child’s private education. It might work. Everyone is feeling very, very sorry for us.