Monday, 21 November 2011

A very short parenting story.

I  had a very bad, bad, bad weekend, let me tell you. 

I have no idea how single mothers with children cope, because I find it incredibly hard when Husband is away and I suddenly have to do everything by myself.  And maybe, I could manage just fine, but my baby, like a pit bull, senses my fear and turns my nights into nightmares. 

As soon as the night falls, she stops being a lovely cutie pie and turns into a little monster. She knows that I never sleep well when husband is away and attacks me when I am at my weakest, so that I give in and put her into bed with me. I try to be strong, which results in both of us suffering. 

In between me not sleeping from anxiety and her waking up, the total hours I get to sleep are down to zero. 

So, it is not surprising that, as I lay there awake at 5:30am yesterday morning, I started imagining things. The baby was crying- again! - And I tried to calm her down, when I suddenly heard what I can only describe as a churchy kind of singing. It was beautiful, very quiet and pretty creepy

I froze, listening hard. That’s it, I thought. All these sleepless nights and the tiredness finally turned me into a mad woman. Either I am hearing angels singing to me, or we have a ghost.

I really did not like either of those options, so I thought I would get up and start the day. So what it is inhumanely early.  I got up, grabbed the baby, and looked into the landing. 

My older girl’s door was open and I glanced in, to check she was alright. She lay in bed and in a dimmed light I could see her actually looking at me. 

‘You okay’? I asked and she nodded. I suddenly had a glimpse of hope. There was a logical, not at all mental explanation, after all. 

‘Were you just singing? ‘I asked her, praying for it to be the case, and she said yes. Thank goodness, I thought.  It was her!

I was singing the song that Mary sang to baby Jesus to stop him crying’ she added.

Well, I wonder if it worked, I wanted to ask.  Did baby Jesus shut the fuck up because nothing works on your baby sister! 

As I said... bad, bad, bad weekend.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Let's meet in Dede Gorgud. Sorry, I meant Zabitler Parki. Bagi. Oh, screw it. Let's go to Officers' Park!

I have been approached by someone to write a piece on Baku. Very exciting! I will tell you all about it in more detail once it is published. 

I really enjoyed writing something about my home town. However, what proved complicated was getting the facts right. Not because I have not lived there for a while, but because nobody seemed to know what certain areas were actually called. I am talking about official names.

For instance, I referred to Torgovaya street. Everyone who ever lived in Baku,from taxi drivers to expats, knows where Torgovaya is. But not many people know the name does not exist on paper. On paper, it is called Nizami street. It is not a bad name, really, I quite like it. But I just have to ask- Does anyone actually call it that? 

I also wanted to mention one of my childhood favourites- The Officers Park near the Blue Mosque and Teze Bazar. 

I was sure they most probably renamed the Officers Park into something ridiculous and guess what? They have! According to this link someone kindly shared with me on Facebook, Officers Park is officially called Dede Gorgud. Okay, I appreciate the history behind the name, I really do but, did they really have to rename the poor park to something nobody can pronounce properly?   

I am curious how many local mums say to each other: 'Oh, shall we take the kids to Dede Gorgud today?'

What exactly was wrong with Officers Park, anyway? Were they not properly Azeri officers? Did they not fight for their country, whatever the country was called at that time? 

I appreciate the desire the country has to separate itself from anything Russian or ex-Soviet. But does the history have to be erased altogether, with no respect for the old names, the reasons behind them, and for the people who had probably deserved the honour of having a square or a street named after them?

Even an Azeri newspaper made the mistake, calling Dede Gorgud the old name. To me, the whole changing names charade seems to be a bit of a joke.  Dede Gorgud!  Seriously!?

But then, after I, having had come to terms with Dede Gorgud, sent the article off, someone pointed out to me that on Google Maps the Officers Park is actually called Zabitler Parki. Great. Just great.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Only in Baku.

Back in Baku, my mother has a social life ten times better than mine here. And mine is not actually that bad these days, considering how boring (very!) social life in the UK is.

She spent the whole day yesterday hanging out with two school friends who come to Baku once every three years.  G. who lives in the USA and V. who is a resident of Russia, both return to their motherland together- to visit the graves of their parents.

Of course, besides such noble reason, there are other things they come to Baku for. Like smoking a kalian  and eating good food with old friends.

Mother tried to find a good restaurant with decent food but also a kalian-smoking facility for her mates. She took the guys to a well-known place in the centre of town. It was empty. 

‘You can’t smoke kalian in the main restaurant’, they got told. ‘Only in kabinets.’ (private cabins)

‘OK’, said V. ‘We will take the kabinet!’

‘Er...No. The kabinets are for a party of over two guests only .’

‘But there are three of us?’, V. corrected politely.

The waiter thought about it and shook his head ‘No. Kabinets are for big parties only. You can sit in the main restaurant.’

‘But we cant smoke kalian there?’

‘That is correct. You may not. Only in kabinets.’

‘Why can’t we go to  a kabinet, the restaurant is completely empty???’

The conversation got interrupted by my mother, who took the party to her favourite Georgian place instead. Which was packed. The Kalian got smoked elsewhere; so the day was pretty perfect in the end.

As they walked around town, G. pointed out how dramatically Baku has changed. Look, he said. You even have gay clubs everywhere?! 

Çay Evi, my mother explained to her naive friend, is not quite a gay club. Just somewhere to drink chay.  

This confusion caused by the differences in alphabets and writing systems can be dangerous. It made me wonder how many potentially life-threatening mistakes will be made during the Eurovision 2012 by gay visitors in Baku. I say changing the fonts should be the city’s priority.

 It reminded me of an American friend of mine who had been asking me ‘what the hell is this ‘pec-to-pah’place??’ all over Baku. It took me a while to realize she was referring to the word restaurant in Russian. –РЕСТОРАН.

So, if you ever planning to visit Baku for the first time in 2012, please remember:

Çay Evi ( Azeri alphabet) is where you go to drink some tea. Normally a very traditional place. 

РЕСТОРАН ( Cyrillic, Russian alphabet)  is where you go to eat. 

Neither is a gay club. Not that confusing, really, is it?