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.


  1. First of all, congratulations! I hope you share that article with your faithful readers.
    About the names change, well it's kind of a universal plight. Here in Lima we have an avenue called Avenida Garcilaso de la Vega, a Peruvian historian. That's the official name. But it was formerly known as Avenida Wilson, after US president Woodrow Wilsow. Everybody knows that avenue by the name of Wilson. Buses have the word Av. Wilson to indicate their routes. Taxi drivers know the avenue as Wilson.
    So, it's kind of a shared pain. Una pena entre dos es menos atroz (A pain shared by two is less tremendous... Well, this rhymes in Spanish).

  2. @Gabriela: You are my one and only faithfull commentator. :)

    Yes, if and when it comes out- I shall, of course, share.

  3. I really understand your point,and dont think people of Baku will ever call Torgovaya as Nizami street.There was a park near Medical Univercity called Zorge,still don't know its official name.Any ideas?

  4. @Tara: And I forgot to mention the monuments they took down. :( No respect for the past. Very sad, really. OK, I am not saying keep Stalin and Lenin! But some were OK to keep I thought. anyway, what do I know.
    Zorge of course is changed, too. Not sure what it is called now, I still call it Zorge. :-) But at least, they did not sell it to the Turks to turn into the embassy like they did with the Pioneer Park.

  5. Sorry,the Pioneer Park was a present!

  6. @Anonymous: A present? Whose property was it to give away? What about those poor people's who live in little shacks (right behind the park) with no gardens or money for holidays, whose only retreat in 40C summer heat was to hide under the shade of those old trees?

    How normal is it, you think, for a public park to be a "present"?

  7. Scary, dear, do you actually know why ALL Azeries were withdrawn from Armenia? This happened because (according to the Soviet Russian authorities) Azeries were not supposed to have any common border with turks. Then the turks bought the kilometre long strype of land from Iran, so that Azerbaijan could have common border with Turkey. In Nachichevan they call it "life road" because without that 8 km. piece of land Nakhichevanies who have been under heavy blocade for many years wouldn't have survived. So the Pioneer park is NOTHING, compared to what Turkey is doing for us.

    Sofisticos (I think I have succeeded this time)

  8. I agree that these name changes are getting hard to manage. People need something simple. People also need to express their undying love for the nation's patriarch. How about this idea: let's rename all parks in the city to "Heydar Aliyev Park 1", "Heydar Aliyev Park 2", and so on? When it catches on, the system can be expanded to cover all parks in the country!

  9. @Riad; already done; all new parks named Heydar Babas.,without numbers,of course....

  10. Scary, are you sure about rename? I have checked in the internet, Dede Qorqud is being planned to be constructed near Genclik Metro, however, Officers' Park is near Teze Bazar.

  11. I remember trip to Georgia in 2003. We had guide tour in Tbilisi and 1 of Georgian colleagues was telling about history and blablas.... after some time 1 of us said:"u know what? this is not funny, coz we wont remember all this names, U shld definitely come to Baku and Im sure u ll remeber all monuments, parks and even street name.... coz its so simple :)... all named Aliyev"

  12. @Shafag: No, I am not sure, but from the info I gathered, it sort of official that it is now Dede Gorgud, but also some people reckon it is Zabitler. So who the hell knows? Nobody, probably.

    @Riyad and Anonymous: Yes, name them all Aliyev, at least easy to remember and no confusion. well, some confusion, but can just follow with numbers.