Sunday, 26 February 2012

JUSTICE FOR KHOJALY RAP. With one letter in front of the word RAP missing.

Now what's cooler than bein' cool?
(ICE COLD!) I can't hear ya'
I say what's cooler than bein' cool?
(ICE COLD!) whooo...

OK, I am just curious. Just how ridiculous do some people want Azerbaijan to look?

You might have remembered that it was a 20th anniversary of Khojaly yesterday. Or you might have been reminded of it, as every Azeri posted something about it on Facebook. Asking for justice, mainly, even though I am not sure what form that justice could take after twenty years. Recognition, maybe. Justice? Not sure.

But it was an awful tragedy. I get it. Children got killed. It is very very very sad.

What i really want to question is- was it SO sad that we just had to rap about it?

Yes, you heard me correctly. We are in mourning. We are so sad that we just must...well, rap. Traditional Azeri way, you know?

We, already famous for our brilliant taste of music (Exhibit 1: Eurovision obsession. Exhibit 2: Thriller flash mob dancing) now want to advance to the new level of uber, mega coolness- a black woman rapping about our national tragedy! Maaan. How frigging cool are we? "Ice cold!" in the words of Outkast.

All the required elements of coolness are present here. Look!

1) It is done in a tasteless style, with a very, very bad acting of a woman in a wheelchair in the background. If you are now going to tell me this is a real victim, then I am sorry. She might be a victim but she should stay away from the acting career. I suspect she is an Azeri actress though.

2) There is a black, Americanskiy rapper singing about Azeris! Maaaan....that must be cool, right?

3) Not only is she black, she is also a woman! I mean, that must look even cooler in the western eyes?! In fact, if she also happens to be a lesbian, we are just soooo now.

4) Some shots of headphones and the studio singing bear wonderful resemblance to that we are the world...we are the children peace song.

5) The tune is catching, if suspiciously similar to one very popular Eminem song. Cant recall the name, but you must recognise if you know it.

Oh, my dear Lord. Honestly. What the......???

Anyway. I have nothing else to say.

Only this.

I guess, I kind of see the thinking behind this awful production. To reach out to the rest of the world. So the world would feel and share our pain. Why we assume that the only language the rest of the world would understand is rap, I have no idea. Watching this video is painfully embarrassing. The occasional documentary shots of real murdered people mixed with the very bad acting is simply bad taste; and, to me, disrespectful of the memory of those who really suffered. Whether intentionally, or not.  Let me rap this out for you, so you get it.

It is bad, ma...aa...n bad, bad.
I think your clip is tasteless crap.
The tragedy is very sad.
The clip

On behalf of a few of us, Azeris with some degree of taste (I say some to be fair. I still do some very Azeri things-cant help it) i apologise to the world for this video. Please don't laugh at out tragedy. It was not meant to be funny, it was just paid for by people who have money to fund their cause but sadly, no taste or clue. And then viral marketed by other people with no taste or clue.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Compound freedom

I would blog a lot more these days, if only could I be bothered to switch on my old laptop. However, having been presented with an iPad, i find it a lot easier to use- in most of the cases. Blogging however, isn't one of them. Typing on this screen is a challenging trick.

But i simply must tell you about the children in the compound.

First of all, I have to explain that to a British parent, paranoid of pedophiles lurking behind every bush that is dense enough, this compound life seems shocking. Compounds in Doha vary from small ones,for about twenty villas, to much larger ones, for over a hundred. Most of them have a central point- a club house, or a gym or both, security at the gate and a communal/shared swimming pool. The roads inside the compound are quiet, with mainly residents' cars driving very slowly, and children as young as 3 often playing outside, on the bikes and scooters, with phillipino maids or alone. The excitement from this freedom of being able to pop to the club house alone, or with a new friend, hit my six year old daughter like a tsunami wave- impossible to control or stop.

Not only do the children play outside, they also go in and out of each other's houses.


Husband, who is safely tucked in his new grey suit somewhere at a meeting, exclaimed happily: 'But that is so lovely for her! Remember how back in the uk, whenever there was a school break, we would have to organize playdates or something else to do so she would not get too bored? No need for that now! She just has all these easily available playdates inside the safe compound!'

Well, yes. Theoretically, it is simply wonderful.

But, in reality, and also, in a mean mother's reality, it is somewhat complicated.

The other day, for instance, my daughter ran downstairs with three other girls following her, all wearing her best jewellery.

'Excuse me', i said. 'Where are you going?'
-What about all the stuff you are wearing??
-They are just borrowing it.

'Ok...' I glanced them over. 'You can borrow that necklace, i said to the German girl. But please take that bracelet off. That one, i am afraid, has to stay in the house.'

Fine. Away they run. I sit down with a cup of tea and a sleepy baby attached to my left boob when there is a ding dong!!! at the front door again. The girls are back to get some bunnies. No, i said. It is too dusty outside, the soft toys remain in the house.

The girls get kicked out. Ding dong! The door goes again, in a few minutes. The three visitors reappear, comfortably squeezing past me, taking their shoes off.

Ahmm...hello? I say in my very nice, friendly voice, trying to keep the outrage out of it.
Where are you actually going?

The taller girl i had never seen before looks up at me like i am retarded. 'Upstairs to play in E's room?!'
-Yes, but where is E herself? i dare to ask
-Oh, she did not want to come home, she wants to play outside!

At this point i just had to laugh nervously. But, sweetie, i said. You cant just come in, and play in her room if she is not there. That is HER room and her toys!?

'But we want to play with her toys!' Says the smaller child- i think?- Called Sarah.
'I am afraid', i say, blocking the way and physically pushing the crowd towards the exit, 'this is NOT how it works.'

I mean, honestly?

Back in the UK, where getting invited for a playdate was usually a carefully planned, scheduled and dutifully taken in turns event, this would send some of my friends over the edge. And understandably, I am finding this unlimited freedom somewhat irritating. Wonderful, yes. Don't take me wrong. I am pleased my child is settling in, and enjoying herself. She is making new friends, she barely watches any TV, she is not bored at home, and is getting plenty of fresh (if somewhat dusty) air. But i might have to introduce some basic rules to this chaos. Today i started off with switching off the annoying door bell. Now, when her friends come for my child at 7:45am and try to break into the house while we are all peacefully asleep...they are going to have to work harder. And i run to the door when i hear them approaching like a sand storm, and stop them running in screaming and giggling into the house where the baby has just settled into a nap. Let me be the most cruel mother in the compound, i don't care. My house- my rules.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

1,460 Arabian Nights

So here I am. Back to you after a prolonged and suspicious silence. I bet some of you might have thought I got bored of blogging. Some might have assumed I got fed up with the strange comments and emails I tend to receive. But really...I just was busy relocating to Doha.

Yes. Doha. As in Qatar. Before you ask, my recent articles for Qatar airways have absolutely nothing to do with the move. My father shocked me recently, when I tried to explain to him just how spooky the coincidence was. My husband got headhunted for a contract in Qatar for four years and we decided to go for it. In the meantime, i received an email asking me to write an article for Oryx magazine. The two events happened almost at the same time, however were not connected. My father, being more Azeri than I ever remember him to be, decided it was naive of him ( and me) to assume those two events had nothing to do with each other.

Come on, he said. Things don't happen like that!

I was confused. what on earth was he talking about?

" They must have known your husband was getting a job in Doha, so they said oh, his wife is from Baku...let's ask her to write an article for us." he explained.

I was so shocked I had to call him. Clearly, something got lost in (electronic) translation.

"Papa", I said. "Who's they? They as in Qatar Airways launched direct flights Baku-Doha from February 12. That is why they wanted to do a piece on Baku as a new destination. They who Husband now works for are a different business, nothing to do with the airports, airlines or skies. Do you think, perhaps, that my husband and his job are SO important for Qatar that, having found out his wife was Azeri, they decided to open new flights to Baku? For my personal convenience? "

Fortunately, he laughed at that thought. I was worried he was getting demented. Old age isn't pretty, you know. Happens to all of us.

Anyway. The job offer came somewhat unexpectedly and very fast, and the company wanted him here, in Doha, ASAP. and so, from the end of November we only spent a few weeks getting everything ready, and on the 1st of January, Husband started a new job. The rest of us joined him here in the following two weeks.

In the meantime, I had the deadline for the Oryx magazine again, this time for the big piece on Baku for February issue, to tie in with the new direct Baku-Doha flights. The ones they had to open now that I live in Doha, you see?

And so, I have been awfully busy. I also had to wait to get my broadband so I could sit down and write this posting properly.

I am quite excited about this exotic move. And of course, from the blog point of view, things will change. This blog will now reflect the move from Baku to London and then to Doha. And I hope it means it will be more interesting. If somewhat adjusted to the circumstances, if you know what I mean. I have to be more polite and probably not swear too much. I will censor my own bizarre sense of humour, but otherwise....hoping to keep you entertained.

Oh, and I hear it is pretty cold in Baku right now. I am sorry. Hehehehe.

PS The pretty picture of Souq Waqif would look a lot better if I could only figure out how to stretch it to fill the whole heading space. Sadly, I failed. This will just have to do for now.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Bigger, fatter and with more pictures!

I know, i know... It has been too long!

But i have my reasons. Very soon i will tell you all about it, and how crazily busy life has been. In the meantime though, i have to share with you that, after a short pilot article about Baku in December, i was asked to do a full feature on the city for Qatar Airways: for their February issue. I hope you like it! Considering just how crazy my life has been, i am surprised it ever got completed!

It is so much fun seeing something I had to write in certain number of words and paragraphs suddenly all laid out on a page and illustrated. In the draft it all looked a bit strange. A body, then three short facts "not to exceed 30 words each"... Then two larger chunks with more random facts... I sent it off in a word document... And then it came back, and it is alive, looking all professional and pretty. Really cool. I looked at it and thought wow, what a cool place that Baku is, must go there soon. :)