Monday, 17 October 2011

About a disputed territory. Not Nagorniy Karabakh, but one small balcony.

You might have noticed that I have not added any sketches recently. That is not because I am so lazy these days. OK, it is somewhat because I am a bit lazy these days. But mainly, it is because someone ( i.e. Husband) switched our broadband to a different provider and did not bother to figure out how to connect the printer/scanner to the new router.  You might ask what about you? Can’t you sort it out? The answer is maybe I could. But I don’t think a married woman needs to work things like that out by herself. What is the point, may I ask you, of having a husband, if you then have to worry about connecting printers to wireless routers? 

Anyway. I had to tell you this to explain why the following two sketches look a bit bizarre. I would hate for you to think the quality of this blog is deteriorating. I really wanted to illustrate this posting, and the only way I could do it was to take the pictures of my sketches by the phone and email them to myself. Very complicated but here you go.

My mother, as you might know, was here for a little (?) while, enjoying the new baby and kindly helping me stay sane during the first few months. While she was here, there was some vigorous construction activity all around her flat in Baku. Baku is all about construction activities these days, from what I hear. The neighbour above was extending his balcony and enclosing it- a typical Bakuvian way of adding an extra room in one’s flat. In the meantime, the neighbour next to my mother was also enclosing his balcony. Right in between my mother’s and the next door neighbour’s balconies there was this weird empty bit of space, which, according to my mother (and I of course, believe her) was technically hers.  There, for many years going back to the times my grandmother owned the flat, was a very large, very heavy metal trunk. See the sketch.

I guess an equivalent of a shed, speaking in my British suburb terms.  Upon her return to Baku, my mother found the trunk had been lifted out of its usual place, and chucked into her balcony. There is lies right now, huge and heavy, making it impossible for my mother to even walk out on the balcony. In the space where the trunk used to be there now is a large pole, which neighbours above built to support their new extension. 
Like this. 
Now, the neighbours next door are not happy.  They had their own plans for my mother’s territory, you see. They were planning to erect the side wall for their new balcony there, making their space nice and big.
The neighbours are now fighting. 

This is where an English mind faces a challenge. Husband was confused. 

 ‘What about a planning permission? Don’t those people need a planning permission in order to build something like that in a block of flats? ‘ 

I laughed. She should ask them to pay her at least, Husband suggested, trying to put his Azeri thinking hat on.  But sadly, none of his suggestions would work in a country where two neighbours can fight over your bit of balcony. Well, they promised to remove the trunk soon, mother told me happily today. She does not believe in aggressive solutions to problems with neighbours. Now, you tell me. What would you do, if you were a single woman living in a country like this?


  1. There is no point in convincing them, then I don't believe in aggressive solution.

  2. Answering your very last question: I think I'd marry a foreign nice guy and move to HIS country. Wait... now I get how a SA ended up living in a posh British suburb! (No intention to offend anyone, please.)
    I hope your mom won't be bothered with this issue again.

  3. If I were your mother, I would have left that country a long time ago. I am having hard time explaining things like these to my US-raised husband as well.

  4. @Marianna: I wish it was that easy.
    @Ruhi: I did not understand what you meant, sorry.

    @Gabriela: I need to find her a man! :)

  5. I think she'll find a sledgehammer offers a handy solution to this problem...

  6. @northernrich: Ha. A few people suggested that option. But you all have missed the crucial point here. The pole belongs to the balcony ABOVE. If we take it down the balcony will collapse on top of my mother's! Not a good plan now, is it. :)