Saturday, 31 July 2010

A free tip for my male readers

‘What do you think?’ I asked Husband, turning around. I was showing him my newly purchased white mini skirt. Yes, I know. But honestly, it sounds a lot worse than it looks.

'Oh, lovely!' He said. 'Don’t forget your tennis racket.'

But I am happy. My mother, my child and I went to Bicester village yesterday. A shopping paradise. Of course, shopping with a child is a nightmare. Simply impossible to make any sensible decision choosing an outfit if you are constantly being dragged, pulled and talked to.

Thus the white mini skirt.

But...I like it. I have recently decided, glancing through the Boden catalogue delivered to my house, that I have to aggressively fight against the middle age suburban style. It is creeping up on me, circling around, and tightening the circle until I won’t be able to get out. I am not that old yet. A white miniskirt is exactly what I need.

But this is not what I wanted to tell you about today. I wanted to tell you about the Agent Provocateur underwear shop. Some of you might have heard of Agent Provocateur. If you have not, then you must quickly look it up.

Whenever I get to Bicester village, I always look forward to stepping inside this particular shop. I would love to claim that my lingerie drawer is filled with AP items. But, truthfully, I am more of a CK girl myself. Somewhere in between AP and M&S.

But, I still like to look. You see, Agent Provocateur is like art to me. And it is not just the underwear that is attractive in that shop. The shop assistants are always stunning, if a bit overly sexy for a daytime shopping experience. They walk around in fishnet stockings, very short dresses that look like nurse outfits only pink, and black pom-pom mules. I can only imagine an Agent Provocateur store opening in Baku. What an amazing treat would that be for Azeri guys! They would be queuing up all around the Caspian sea.

Anyway, just wanted to share this information with my male readers ( not just Azeri ones) in case they ever visit London or somewhere else where there is an AP store. Do not miss out! Make sure you go in, if not to purchase a (expensive) set for your wife or girlfriend, then at least to drool at the shop assistants.

You are very welcome.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

You will understand.

A long time ago, my mother had a very close friend. And one day, that friend was getting married. As a close friend, my mother expected to be treated as such. And she was- when it came to helping the friend with the arrangements. However, not when it came to the sitting plan.

‘You are such a close friend’, she was told. ‘You will understand’.

The friend explained that the reason my mother was given a bad seat at the wedding party was because of all the important people who had to get the best seats. And when you worry too much about giving the rich and powerful the best seats at the wedding, your real friends end up sitting at the back.

What is it about so many people that they just can’t stop sucking up to the rich and powerful?

I expect most of you will claim that you are not like that. None of us like to hear that about ourselves.

So, you have never sucked up to the rich and powerful. Well, let’s check. I have created a little SUCKUP test here for all of us. Add 1 point for every YES and 0 for a NO and do your maths.

You suck up to the rich and powerful people if:

a) You worry what to take to their house for a dinner party and end up taking a lot more than usual.

b) If it is her/his birthday, you agonize what to buy, as nothing seems good enough for someone who has everything.

c) You find yourself talking about them a lot with other, normal, friends.

d) You tend to always agree with what they are saying, even if you don’t.

e) You would rather miss your parents’ wedding anniversary than say no to a party thrown by these guys.

f) You go out of your way to buy something that looks similar to something the rich and powerful people own, even if it is a cheap imitation.

g) You feel flattered when they notice you and include you in their social arrangements.

h) You always invite them to your important events (like a wedding) first, even if that leaves no space for your real, close friends. Because they will understand.

If you said no to every single one of the above, then I am proud of you. You have officially never sucked up to anyone rich and powerful. I would like to think that I have not either. But, I am sure that at some point in life, I must have done. I am Azeri after all. And Azeries are fantastic at this. I recently noticed that English people are not immune to the money+power+suckup combination either. And I suspect the reason I notice it is simply because I recognize the signs. Because, as an Azeri, I am an expert.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

A lesson on gestures

I was driving on the motorway yesterday when I passed a nasty car crush. Automatically, without giving it much thought, I pulled on my ear lobe with my index and big fingers, made a noise that can be vaguely described as sucking through my teeth, and then bit on my index finger. I claim to be free of superstitions but some things are simply stuck with me from years of living in Azerbaijan. I see a black cat cross the road in front of me and I pretend to spit over my left shoulder before I go over that invisible line of bad luck. I see a nasty accident and I pull on my ear and suck on my teeth. To be completely honest, if nobody can hear me, I also add a little k-shh!-k-shhh! noise.

If you happen to visit Baku or live there, and see someone like maybe a good-looking Azeri girl like I am showing here holding her hand high up as if she is waving to you in a friendly fashion, I have to warn you this might not be the case. The difference is in the movement of the hand. If she waves at you, the hand will move from side to side, like you would expect. However, if she makes an angry face and pushes her hand straight out, as if to push you away, it means she is wishing you were dead. ‘Kul bashiva! ‘ is the expression that goes with the gesture and means literally ash on your head.

In the UK, the only gesture I ever need is a wave to the magpie bird. While adding ‘Good morning Mr. Magpie, how is your wife?’ But only if you see one! If you see two it brings good luck. If you see three it is for a girl, and four-for a boy. Don't ask.

OK, not entirely true. I might occasionally- very occasionally!- resort to using my middle finger whilst driving. I know it is very common, and not something a nice lady like me should be doing, and I am working on it. It is just that people forget all manners when they get behind that wheel!

Lastly, for today’s lesson, Azeris believe in evil eye. I told you this before, but it is worth mentioning again. When we believe someone is envious of something nice we own, like a new car or an engagement ring, we may whisper under our breath: 'Senin gozun menim gotume!' Which translates as may your evil eye go up my arse. Presumably, arse is a pretty safe place to store any evil eye that might be fired at us. Fortunately, there is no gesture that goes with it.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Scary, the Peacemaker.

Very excited! Onnik Krikorian, the Caucasus editor for Global Voices Online asked me to contribute to the online project on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The posting was up late last night; and almost immediately I got a message from asking if it was OK for them to cross-post it, i.e. republish it on their site. ' Is it OKAY???' I almost shouted back, 'Are you kidding me? I am ecstatic!'

Here it is. Right here. And here is the original publication.

So... yes. Who cares that Facebook shut Scary Azeri page down. Which, by the way, is simply outrageous.

I still have no clue why they did it. I had a message left on the wall by someone called Eminballah, which basically, was full of abuse ("Who is this f**** strupid bitch who opened this stupid  f***** page!!!???" blah-blah, and more F's and more bitch references... etc etc), so I reported him as abuse, and blocked him from the page. Perhaps Facebook decided to block me too, just in case. They are for equal opportunities and freedom of speech, in case you have not realized.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Magic Wand

This is a magic wand that my 4 year old brought home from her friend's birthday party today.

No comment.

PS Oh, and in case you have missed the latest news, Facebook have shut down Scary Azeri fan page. No idea why. They recently refused to remove a fan page of a murderer who had killed 3 people. They said  it was not a good enough reason to close the debate. However, they decided Scary Azeri was too offensive. 

I hereby present them with this... wand.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Honey, you remind me of someone famous.....

Lyubov zla, polubish i kozla. A Russian saying. Means "Love is cruel, you might fall for a goat"

I happen to know this man. I am not going to tell you how or where I know him from, because that would not be fair. What if I become famous one day (I know, I am laughing too), and he happens to read this, and thinks ‘OMG! That is my wife she is talking about!!!!’

That would not be very nice, would it. It would just hurt his feelings.

Because what I want to tell you is that his wife is incredibly, undeniably, inhumanly ugly.

Whenever I comment on how ugly someone is, Husband frowns and says that she might be a very nice person. ‘Or very good in bed’, he normally adds.

But this woman is not just average looking. A lot of us are. She is not just ugly either. There is something about her that is so wonderfully weird, I struggle to describe the whole palette of colours I could paint her in.

To start with, I don’t even think she is a woman. I thought long and hard about how I would describe her to you, since I can’t, for obvious reasons, publish her photo. Eventually, after careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that she looks like something in between Danny DeVito and the Incredible Hulk.

I am curious about one thing. I know not everyone is shallow, not everyone cares about appearances,blah-blah. I have some girlfriends who married men I would rather die than sleep with. They must love them, or love their money. Whatever their attachment to their husbands, they must tolerate them enough to sleep with them and look at them every morning without feeling sick. So, I appreciate it is possible. Ugly people can be loved,too. What a wonderful world we live in!

But her....I just want to know: how is that possible?

How did this poor man manage to fall in love with her and have children with her, and just not see that she looks like Danny DeVito?

This is what I am asking. I was telling my friend (who also knows the man) that I was going to blog about it. ‘Don’t’, she sad. ‘What if he reads it?’

I thought about it. And then I realized that it was OK.

Because, if he fell in love with her and had her children, there is absolutely no way he would ever recognize that this posting was about her. Because, if he loves his wife, he must think she is pretty. To him, she must be. He does not look at her and think ‘Oh, my darling little DeVito! You are sooo cute, you remind me of the Incredible Hulk,only very short and with saggy breasts!'

Love is blind, right?

But even if he does realize, what can he say? Would he really come to me and say  'You evil bitch, I know you meant my darling wife. How dare you say she looks like Danny DeVito?!'
Because, I would look at him and smile. And I would ask him 'Why? Do YOU think she does?'

So I am pretty sure I will get away with this.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The missing cat

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The giant fox

Guys, I have to confess. I am no longer a (camping) virgin. It has finally happened. But, as any old virgin would, I decided to ease myself into it gently. The camping I finally agreed to try out was not really a proper camping. It was a night in a tent on the school grounds, surrounded by other people I know, and with school toilets nearby. If things got really painful and ugly, I could always jump in my car and be at home in less than five minutes.
And you know what, overall, it went really well. We were incredibly lucky with one of the hottest days of the year; and being able to sit outside till late, drinking and eating grilled sausages and burgers was just perfect.
However- don’t I always have a however?-I, of course, had some concerns and fears.
Fear No 1: My child getting kidnapped.
Let’s look at the way normal mothers would view our day of camping. They are in a very safe area, on the local school grounds, surrounded by neighbours.There is fencing all around the school field. Does it get any safer than that?
Well, I don’t agree. You see, we camped in the middle of a large school field. There is a patch of forest at the back of it, with a narrow path created by the school people. The patch is not deep; and behind it, there are a couple of new houses being built. At some point I  found my daughter and her friend hanging out in the forest. And I did not like it.
If I were a paedophile, you see, this would be my dream set up. The construction site at the back- not guarded, too easy to get in. No people next door as it is also a construction site for another new home. A fence is easy. And children, often alone, in the forest patch. And the worst part, of course, is that, in the overall excitement and the big field full of tents and people, it would take a very, very long time for anyone to realize one of them is missing. Enough time to get faaaaar away. So yes, call me a paranoid sick freak, but I was not happy with my child going in the forest bit,where I could not see her. I don’t care if there was only one chance in a million. It is still an effing chance.
Fear No 2: The Giant Fox.
By the end of the night, having had a few glasses of wine, I was sitting on a low wall, half-listening to the conversation, when I saw a spooky shadow. It was reflected on the side of the pool, creeping along and growing bigger and bigger. It was large, and it was moving very slowly. I stared until the animal appeared  in the spotlight, and it became apparent it was only a fox. Still, I was not too keen on foxes snooping around our campsite in the middle of the night. I quickly analyzed the chances of it breaking through the zipped tent and decided it was pretty impossible. However, at 3 am I was woken up by a loud animal noise outside. ‘It is the fox!’ My drunken brain screamed in panic, ‘Trying to break through!’ Of course, it was not the fox but a snoring neighbour in the tent right next to ours. I lay awake for a while after that, trying to not think about the fox. The snoring continued.
Fear No 3: The creepy-crawlies.
I tried to keep the tent zipped up at all times. And yet, every time I woke up in the night- and that was often, thanks to all the noises outside- I kept wondering what creepy-crawlies might have sneaked into it during the day. And I kept itching all over.
So, what can I tell you? My overall verdict is that camping is pretty pleasant.  I just don't think that Azeri women are designed for it. If you want to impress an Azeri woman, don't bother taking her camping. Hotels are much, much better. Nice ones, of course.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

About erotic dreams and dead kittens. Not necessarily in that order.

I'll tell you what we are NOT watching tonight. Football. I am possibly one of the few women in the UK whose husband is not obsessed with it. I knew there was some good reason I chose him after all!

I was leaving someone’s house and walking to the gate. They had a few pets in the garden, a very large playful dog (I think it was a Great Dane), a cat and a few chicken running around. As I approached the gate, I noticed a tiny kitten. Really tiny. Possibly only a few weeks old.

I thought it was adorable and was going to pick it up to show to my child when the dog just snatched it from under my nose. He held the kitten in his enormous jaws, and the mother cat hissed and jumped, and I shouted, and shouted and tried to grab the dog.... and the dog just swallowed the kitten. Just like dogs would swallow a stolen sausage when you tell them off- in a hurried, awkward way.

It was a pretty nasty thing to have witnessed. Fortunately, I woke up straight after that.

When I was a child, I had two reoccurring nightmares. One was about the little dog I had then. As if I come up to the double doors leading to our balcony. And notice that my dog is stuck between them. As I rush to open the doors to free him, I hear him bark behind me. Which one is the real dog and which is some spooky thing pretending to be him is the disturbing question.

Another, similar dream was about my mother. As if we are sitting in our old arm-chairs, me reading and her sewing, when I suddenly realize someone is washing up in the kitchen.

'Who is washing up?' I ask her, sort of beginning to worry a little. And my mother stares back, because we both know there isn’t anyone else in the flat.

I get up and go in the kitchen and I mother. Calmly washing up. She does not look at me, she just stands there. So, I retreat quietly and return into the room, and tell my real mother that we’d better leave the flat ASAP.

I am sure there are specialists who could explain why I kept getting those nightmares where my dog or my mother would double up in such a scary way.

I can understand dreams that are caused by something that happens in real life. For example, I watched Snatch in the evening. Would it not be only natural if I made passionate love to Brad Pitt in my dream that night? But noooo, of course not. Instead, a huge dog swallows a little fluffy kitten in front of me.

And speaking of erotic dreams, wouldn’t it be great if we could choose who stars in them? I am almost never that lucky. The best erotic dreams I can claim to have had were during my pregnancy. (Thank you, hormones.) Normally, however, I end up in bed with people who, in real life, would be the most undesirable, unrealistic choices. A very short and very old arts teacher, a hairy chushka at work, or a Japanese wife of one NGO worker I knew socially in Baku. Could not look her in the eye the next day.

So... yes. Dreams can be weird and scary, and bizarre. But then again, I am quite a bizarre person.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

A polar bear situation

Warning: Contains adult material.
Certificate: 15
If in Azerbaijan-Certificate: 31

Being foreign means that you never know when and how you might slip and end up in a huge figurative puddle. Even when you think you speak English pretty well.
We were sitting in the garden with friends, after a nice meal, enjoying ice-cream with kids.
A sunny day. A decent company and a good food. Can’t get any better.
The ice cream I bought was called Baked Alaska. Vanilla with white chocolate polar bears in it. Very nice. My daughter, of course, wanted more bears. I was happy to give her mine, however she did not want the ice-cream they were covered in. She just wanted the bears.

To which I said...
'I am not sucking off those bears!'
As soon as the words escaped my mouth, I knew what I said. But by then, it was too late.  
‘It is not something you should do, really’ said Husband. And everyone laughed.