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.