Saturday, 19 June 2010

Just lunch.

A little while ago, we had a situation in our household. My in-laws were visiting for a couple of weeks, and Husband and Granddad were busy working on Husband's truck, which had to be ready in time for an important show abroad.

Long story cut short, the men were out all day long welding and doing other manly jobs. The workload and the deadline meant that my mother in law and I were left alone for the weekend.

That is when my Azeri friends called to invite us for lunch on Sunday. They did not know that Husband was too busy. But I was not. I was desperate to get out of the house. ‘What shall I do?’ I asked him. And, as I expected, he told me to just go. ‘She would not expect you to take her along’ He said.  But to me, this would be rude. Tempting, but rude.
 I knew that if I told my friends I had my mother in law with me, they would assure me I could- of course!-bring her along.

Mother in law has never been to a properly Azeri house before. Mine does not count, as I lack strong national identity to start with, plus I have an English husband.

And so we went. I was not sure she would enjoy herself, to be honest. I warned her not to get over-sensitive (for which she has a slight tendency) if everyone spoke Russian in front of her. I also warned her she might get bored. In the end, it was quite the opposite.

I can hardly remember my mother in law having such a fantastic time, except for perhaps, during my wedding with her son.

When we returned, in the evening, she could not stop telling Granddad and Husband about just how amazing her day was.

‘I just cannot believe those guys!’ She kept repeating. 

What she could not believe was the reception she had. She could not believe just how many different dishes there were on the table. She could not believe the ironed napkins, the tea cups on fancy sauces, and the beautiful trays. She could not believe the tablecloth. She could not believe the spoons. Everything, every little detail meant one thing-these people made a huge effort. For her. And she was overwhelmed. She said it was almost as if she went back in time. 'People do not go into so much trouble anymore' She said.

The way my friends treated her, making such an effort for just a lunch, as she said, was something she could not believe. And no, she did not get bored. Everybody listened to her, everybody spoke English, and everybody laughed at her jokes, whether they were funny or not. Because, I took her to a proper Azeri home. And this is what well brought up Azeries do when a respectable older person comes to their house.

‘Yes,’ Admitted Husband. ‘Azeries do old people a lot better than we do.’
And I was just very proud and happy.


  1. Good for you! It's amazing that your mother in law has still such a sense of wonder. As we'd say in Spanish, what a "ternurita" (althouhg ternurita isn't an actual word, ternura=tenderness).

  2. As an old person, I found this very reassuring. :)

  3. I always treat our guests azeri proper way, as you husband predicted it will scare our guests off..with time I realised that women only have been affected (scared off thing.., as women can’t/don’t want to compete/take efforts and men can’t/don’t want to resist...:-)
    I like your writing style Scary Azeri! I don’t agree with all your say and it doesn’t scary me off though, I simply can’t resist, you see?:-)))


  4. @AzOzzi: That's great. I would not expect everyone to agree with me, that would be just boring. so, next time time you disagree strongly, just tell me! :) I would love to explain to you why you might be wrong. :))

    I agree about "scaring" people off...I know what you mean. We used to get together with a bunch of Azeri girlfriends here, in London, at each other's homes for lunch...until one of us did soooo much that the rest are now afraid to host. we have not got together now for months, because nobody can match such a feast. :)

  5. I would be most happy to welcome any number of Azeri households here to the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. Not that I'm old like Bill, but I will be someday.

  6. Yes, elders usually enjoy high level of respect in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, this nice tradition has a dark side...

    Most social, governmental, and business hierarchies in Azerbaijan are dominated by old people. That translates into a pervasive culture of conservatism that stifles innovation across the board. The system doesn't let younger people openly challenge the establishment.

    I vividly remember one day in college when we writing a test, an old professor showed up accompanied by entire department leadership. The way he spoke and looked made obvious he was in early stage of dementia, and he badly needed an adult diaper. Yet, everybody was listening to him and displaying almost religious respect.