I have been meaning to blog about my summer trip to Baku for weeks now, but I guess I had so much to say about it, that I needed time to gather my thoughts. I am not even sure I am ready now.
I mean…WOW. I was overwhelmed. In a good way.
As Big Chris said in Lock, Stock and Two smocking barrels…’It’s been emotional’.
I don’t know what I expected to find after not having been there for six years, but what I did not expect is that I would like it so much.
It was strange being there again and not always recognizing places. Taking a taxi along some street, I would ask my mother where the hell I was. But I did not hate the changes. I have heard so much from all the social media and friends complaining that the buildings were changing all around that I was prepared to feel sad for my old city. But.
Baku does not need sympathy. It is pretty. Shiny, glamorous, elegant, yet keeping to its original traditional image…I loved the changes.
I also loved the new parks, beautifully landscaped, like the Officers’ park near my old home. New benches everywhere, new fountains…Clearly, besides the corruption everyone is focusing on, there also is quite a lot being invested back into the city (and the country).
You might argue that, perhaps, I was so easy to impress because I had very low expectations. That is true. I did not think that the government necessarily would invest in public parks. Why would they bother? I did not think they would invest in better streets, more lights, fountains and safety (like the clean, usable crossings everywhere with dangerous roads) But they do. Yes, there is still an awful lot of work left to do, but come on guys! Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time.
What also has changed is chushkas. Chushkas are much more stylish now! What happened to the neon colours and dreadful earrings and horrible clown make-up? Chushkas are wearing trendier clothes, thanks to cheap Turkish denim available in little shops everywhere, and generally sport much cooler style.
The service is pretty decent now. I was so impressed with Gabala Qavqaz Sports hotel where we went on a little break that I almost felt I was hallucinating. OK, there was one teeny f** up when I asked for G&T and the waiter proudly brought me gin and sparking water insisting it was the same thing…But hey, he tried. And he looked so devastated when I wanted to send it back that I said fine, give it here and drunk it. It is not the same thing.
And the beautiful nature? Really, I forgot, I completely forgot…I am ashamed to admit. I forgot how stunning my home country was.
Also. Waiters. I noticed the waiters everywhere. They do much better job these days, look cute and actually are polite and nice. Huge difference to what I remember it was like before.
A cute (and single) French girl from Doha sent me a message while I was in Baku asking if I knew any good websites to help her find a job in Baku.
I had to tell her this. I said look…It is not the best place for a single expat woman. Not because it is unsafe. It is perfectly safe. But it is absolutely filled to the brim with beautiful girls. Oh my. Even chushkas, as I mentioned before, look better these days. (Until they open their mouth and speak, but you could maybe put up with that, you know, when she looks like Monica Belucci.) Azeri women, as I suddenly realized, are very pretty. But not just that. Having lived in England and abroad for so long, I got used to many women going for this natural look. I don’t quite know how to explain it without sounding offensive. I don’t want to sound offensive. There is difference in what is considered beautiful in different areas of the world. For example. I recently met a very pleasant woman with what my Spanish girlfriend here would refer to as the darkest Peru in the armpits area. That is just something that was probably OK in that particular country this woman was from. Natural, you know?
So what I guess I am saying is I thought Azeri women were almost Lebanese in their approach to their looks, except maybe not as OTT with botox and big boobs. Maybe a lot less natural than a lot of European women, yet…getting away with it. A lot of time and money and attention to detail is clearly spent on their looks, and trust me, it pays off. They look pretty good.
And one important detail to add, I said to the French girl. In one month I spent there, I did not see one good looking guy. None. Zero. Perhaps, they died out like dinosaurs. What a tragedy for the nation, really.
I could go on and on. I loved it. I am going back and I wont wait another six years this time.
I am so pleased for you, Baku. You are doing well, standing tall and proud, and will do much, much better in future, I can see that. Just one word of advice, if I may. With all that oil money, buy yourself some handsome men.