Sunday, 19 September 2010

Shall we go back to my....Lada?

We are watching Clerks tonight. Exciting! I have watched Clerks II possibly 157 times but never saw Clerks. You have got to watch Clerks II- if only for the expression “Interspecies Erotica”.

So here we are again. The summer was officially over (not that we had any) this morning when we had to switch on the central heating.

My mother went back home after a....let’s just say  reasonably lengthy visit. Last week, at the school gate, a local mummy asked me how long my mother stayed this time and was genuinely horrified.

'I would not let my mother stay with me for a week, let alone that long!' She exclaimed. 'I can’t stand anyone in my kitchen! The only person allowed to cook in my kitchen is me!' She said.

I laughed. I love people to cook for me. I will happily allow anyone, whether it is the mother in law or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to cook, bake and wash up in my kitchen as often as they’d like! Not a problem. I am quite generous like that.

I was then thinking -what is wrong with me? You see, it does not annoy me when my mother lives with us for a couple of months. Even having my in-laws staying here does not annoy me. I understand that it should. I mean, husband and I might need occasional privacy. What if we want to lounge around naked all day, or throw a wild swinging party? But no, it never annoys me.

Thinking about it, I was wondering if a big part of my tolerance of the parents in the house comes from the custom of living with them in Baku. Normally we all stayed at home until we married, if not for a while after. Not every young married couple could afford a place of their own, and there were (I doubt there are now?) no mortgages to take.

Back in my Baku years, I only knew one girl who lived separately from her parents and had her own flat; but that was only because she was a divorcee and had her own money, which meant she was not asking anyone, including her parents, how to live her life. However, I have recently heard of quite a few independent unmarried Azeri girls getting their own places, and moving out to live on their own.

Of course, I strongly suspect that a large part of this old custom to live with parents comes from the idea that one should not have sex before marriage. Especially the girls. Living under the same roof as their watchful fathers and ever-suspicious mothers, the girls had to invent clever ways of sneaking about.

I remember one of my cousins, a very traditional Azeri girl, applying make-up in the dark apartment block, in a hurry before her dates; and then quickly removing it all before coming home in the evening. Kind of normal when you are 13. Not really when you are in your mid twenties.

So I am thrilled to hear that things are changing. I mean, good for you, the new generation of Azeri women! A bit sad though that there will be no more heavy petting on park benches as early as six am (personally witnessed while walking the dog on a number of occasions- in good weather only, of course) ; or semi-naked almost-a–virgin behaviour in the back of Ladas in isolated dark alleyways.

In a way, having sex whenever you want in the comfort of your own apartment is almost as boring as wearing make-up without having to hide it from your Muslim dad. Where is the challenge in that? I am not even mentioning how distressing it must be for all those plain clothes policemen whose main source of income were the bribes from young couples they caught canoodling in parks. But overall, a good change, I say. Freedom is coming your way, my young Azeri friends. Just be careful how you use it.


  1. Too much freedom can be dangerous, right? Freedom vs. licentiousness, a long dated discussion.
    I'm pretty sure you'll miss your mom. I was about to ask you about her.
    In Peru, it's quite normal too for children to stay home until marriage. And sometimes, married couples live in one of the in-laws house. Not a good thing. But now with lowering mortgage loans rates, that's changing.

  2. Mortgages are available in Baku these days, but the terms are much harsher than what we're accustomed to in US/UK. I believe the interest is at least 18%, maximum length is 10 years, and you've got to put at least 20% down (some banks require 50%).

    I wouldn't be so upbeat about changing attitudes in modern Azerbaijan. Sure, there is a vibrant middle class in Baku that wants to live their lives according to western customs. But these people aren't connected with the majority of the population, which is a) uneducated, b) conservative, and c) Muslim. This gap kind of reminds me of what happened in Iran under Shah Pahlavi...

  3. When talking about changes in Azerbaijan,
    one should distinguish between the capital, Baku, and the rest of the country. I'd say Baku has changed a lot. I am 33 and i lived through that change myself. From the time when women didn't smoke publicly to now with most of women (especially in their 30s) smoking everywhere. It seems like there are more smokers among young woman than young man. From the time when i was nervious walking the streets wearing a tank top to this summer when i saw girls walking in the city center wearing shortest shorts without anyone to turn a head to them.
    From time when a divorced woman was automatically considered "easy to get" and "sleeping around" to now when there are divorces after 1.5 months of marriage.
    I myself and most of my unmarried girlfriends now live separately.
    Mortgages are really way too expensive, and inexpensive a.k.a. "social mortgages" is hard to get.
    But many of my friends were able to get their apartments by paying in installments to the construction companies while an apartment house was being constructed- which was much more affordable solution.
    But once again Baku and the rest of the country is not the same.
    I'd also say that in last 15 years younger generation of women in Baku has changed in much greater extent compared to changes in behavior of young males. Even if they get education abroad, work in western style offices and live in modern interior apartments when it comes to issue of relationship or marriage their behaviour pattern is the same as it was 15 years ago:))) That's what i call die-hard conservatism.


  4. Yes, I should have said Baku, really. I appreciate the difference between the rest of the country and Baku will probably exist for years and years to come.

    @Gabriela: Interesting that you have a similar custom...I wonder what young people do in Peru when they need privacy.:)

  5. LOL!
    There are los of cheap hotels! ;)