Wednesday, 7 September 2016

About beautiful Azeri mountains. And bears.

'Ma’am', my maid said this morning, showing me her mobile phone. 'Look, my auntie. She had a heart attack'. She showed me a photo of an older woman in a hospital bed. I said I was sorry to hear about it. 'Ma’am', she added…'My auntie, she is a lesbian'. That information was not really relevant, but I nodded respectfully. 'Ma’am', she added, 'Three of my aunties are lesbians'.
'Well', I said, 'that’s really quite a lot of lesbians for one family!'
'A lot of lesbians in Philippines, ma’am!' she replied.






And that is my random fact of today for you.


I know, I know. I have been incredibly lazy.  I was planning to write about summer trips, and then a few more things…and I was planning to write about Baku…Just like in that song, if you know it? 

I was gonna clean my room until I got high
I was gonna get up and find the broom but then I got high 

Sadly, I don't even have that excuse. 

I mean, I have a bunch of topics right here, in my lazy head. Just need to find the motivation, somehow. It got lost somewhere between all the air planes, suitcases and hot weather.

Anyway. Today, I wanted to tell you about my trip to Ilisu, in Azerbaijan. 


You see, I had to admit something to myself this summer. Deep inside, without a doubt, despite all the shit that is still going on there; I still love my country. Shocking, I know.

Like a prodigal son, I returned again, mentally apologising for all the…hmm... unkind thoughts I had about my homeland before. 

Look, I thought, as we sat outside the little cottage in Illisu, surrounded by stunning mountains, look how beautiful it is! Just amazing! Never mind that I could not sleep at all on the train, convinced it was about to fly off the rails, killing us all. Somehow, I felt better staying awake for that. And never mind that the first cottage we were shown to in this little family owned resort, with its two tiny dark rooms with narrow single beds reminded me, disturbingly, of an episode of 'Orange Is The New Black' (without the lesbians). And never mind that behind the cottage, there was a wild, I mean, proper wild forest, with noises at night, with mean, hungry bears plotting how to get in and eat my children. You see, nature and me are like two people who, although find each other attractive, could never live together, knowing that it would just not work, and would end up badly, with one of us killing the other. I do realise that I could never live so close to it, yet I still can appreciate its beauty. 

How come, I thought, I never really saw all this before? I spent years living there, focusing on the negative parts, complaining, just like all the locals still do, about the prices, the corruption, the summer heat and the pollution. But now, living away from you, Azerbaijan, I can really see how charming you are, in your wonderful, quirky way.

I enjoyed all the little things. Watching the locals dance Azeri dances to terrible YouTube videos on a big screen, in an outdoor terrace every night after dinner; the owner, in his woolly hat at 30+ degrees, in his seventies, dragging all of us out to the dance floor.  

The young locals riding horses bareback, on the old bridge, a foal running after them.


A stranger stopping his Lada to give us a lift back to our resort (as we walked slowly back from the restaurant, in the dark, tummies full of lamb kebabs) refusing to take any money for it. 

Sitting on my little balcony at the front of the cottage at night, seeing something alive in the dark on the alley, running bravely to check what it was, discovering was a hedgehog, getting amazed at how cute it was and then noticing a dying, twitching mouse hanging from its mouth...

Discovering hiking! Discovering I was good at it! Except for, you know, all that forest around. The friendly neighbours from the resort were determined to climb all the way up, thinking it was funny that I thought bears were right there, waiting for us, patiently. Ha ha, they said, you are funny. No bears are sitting there, waiting! Yeah, I said, have you not seen  'The Revenant'??? They went quiet and we turned back.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip.

How foolish was I in my younger days, really, when I had no interest in exploring my own country?  And now, feeling more foreign there than anywhere else, I enjoy every visit, every minute of it.

Look, my mother pointed to the mountain right in front of us one morning, as we sat on the terrace sipping one of the tastiest cups of chai I had ever tasted, you see the cave up there? That’s where they say some local criminals used to hide years ago.

My mind, inspired by all the fresh air and the green mountains, quickly formed an escape plan. Maybe, one day, I will drop out and hide in that cave, all the way up the mountain. I will eat berries and drink from waterfalls. Nobody can find me there. Nobody but the bears. OK, maybe not. 

And so I am back to Doha. Till next time, beautiful country of mine. 




3 comments:

  1. Enjoying the little things are one of the secrets of happiness and we tend to forget that quite a lot!

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  2. Well done for keeping your promise to visit your homeland more often. It's heartwarming to read this post!

    regarding your regrets about not exploring your own homeland, I will dare say it's not your fault, really. I remember a segment that considered anywhere beyond the boundaries of Baku below them, a segment that was so busy being arrogant and belittling their fellow countrymen that never noticed anything than "chushkas, uneducated Ill mannered peasants that don't speak the word of Russian. A segment that hated passionately everything that was outside their self isolated small society. Does it sound familiar to you, Scary? May be, at one point of your life, you were in there without realizing it and finally managed jumping out of it due to life experience, maturity, shift in priorities and values?

    By no means, I'm trying to offend you, its just me trying to sound clever 😊

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