Archive for May, 2009

Nino&Insight. Baku. 30.05.09.

Nino Katamadze & Insight in Baku. Singing ‘Olei’ with Azeri jazz singer Ulviyya Rahimova.

I’ve been waiting for her for 4 years. Now I have a hug and a picture from her as well as memories from the breathtaking concert. What else would I need? )

The Story of my Anger or How to Kill the Will and Alienate People on May 28th.


It is a huge achievement to learn how to overcome the anger. A year ago I thought I did.

Yes, I have managed to overcome most of the anger in my life, but it came back as the one against injustice. And once you let this kind of anger out you will not be able to squeeze it back inside. It grows fast and it’s contagious.

When my anger was a baby we would bitch about stupid people and bad drivers around, I would put him back to sleep the moment we were home.

As a teenager he would go all Jack Nicholson to the neighbours who throw garbage from the window and policemen asking for bribe.

Today he’s a grown up, he lives a live of his own not depending on me. He feeds, entertains and looks after himself. And grows. Every day.

Ninety-one years ago a group of well-educated politicians formed the first Azerbaijani Democratic Republic after the collapse of Russian Empire. THAT Azerbaijan was the first Muslim state in the world to give women equal political rights with men, even before UK, US, Switzerland and some other western countries. Another significant achievement of ADR was the establishment of Baku State University, which was the first modern-type university founded in Azerbaijan.

During two years of its existence ADR had to struggle for recognition in the World, including negotiations with W.Wilson, fight the Dashnaki and Bolshevik invasions as well as Irani resentment and, what is more difficult, brake inner prejudices of the centuries-old slaved Azerbaijani nation.

After only two years of independence we were slaved by Soviet Union again. According to Vladimir Lenin the invasion was justified by the fact that Soviet Russia could not survive without Baku oil. On April 28, 1920 we became Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.

However, the former capital of Azerbaijan Ganja managed to resist the invasion for one more month. And, what is very significant, they DID celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic only three days before Ganja was finally occupied.

Leaders of the ADR either fled to Menshevik Georgia, Turkey and Iran, or were captured by Bolsheviks, like Mammed Amin Rasulzade (who was later allowed to emigrate) and executed (like Gen. Selimov, Gen. Sulkevich, Gen. Agalarov, a total of over 20 generals), or assassinated like Fatali Khan Khoyski and Behbudagha Javanshir. Most students and citizens travelling abroad remained in those countries never to return again to their country.

Does any of this sound like present Azerbaijan to you? Maybe, only the last sentence.

What is Azerbaijan today?

A country which celebrates the Flowers Day by 10 whole minutes of fireworks, all-day celebrations and a huge concert and only mentions with no celebration whatsoever the most significant day in its history – the day we fought back our independence.

Today, the whole 8 million population of Azerbaijan is weaker than the group of people who defended Ganja 91 years ago to celebrate the day of May 28th.

Today my anger triumphs.

"Toy"land

“Toy”, the Azeri word for wedding, is the reason we wake up, grow up, live, study, make friends and later lose them for husband’s “no”.

“Toy” is a wonderful opportunity to meet up with endless amount of relatives from all over the country and show them how rich and cool we are. We argue and yell at each other over every single detail of the “toy” – starting from the bride’s dress (which is usually bought by the groom), or groom’s suit (bought by the bride), amount of jewelery brought for the girl or seats for each family. Old relatives terrorise us to hurry up, because they wanna live to see our wedding and dare to argue here. But what is most important – neither bride nor groom decide ANYTHING about their own wedding. “Toy” is the culmination of our lives, the edge of the world almost every girl here prepares for ever since she gets her first period.

The rulers of the wedding are mothers. If groom’s mother is rich enough she buys all the clothing and jewelery for the bride from Dubai or Istanbul. She is always updated with the prices for gold in the world and usually remembers every single thing she brought for the girl till the end of her or bride’s life. Bride’s mother analyses the gifts and decides whether to gossip off or praise the new in-laws.

After several months of mutual torture, arguements and several brake ups the wedding is finally on. Friends and neighbours with expensive cars escort the main car, drive fast and honk all the way to the restaurant. After 6 hours of exhausting wedding parents count money the guests brought while bride and groom can’t even think of spending their first night – the only thing they can do is crash on bed and fall into a sleeping coma.

My brother got married when he was 22. A close girlfriend of mine got married at the age of 21 to her very first boyfriend. Somehow both couples manage to stay happy or at least to look so.

Perhaps, something is wrong with me that I can’t understang how one makes this important decision without any life experience. But I do realise one thing – here it’s normal.

Many girls here get raised with one major aim in life – to get married. Yes, it’s not THAT important where or what they study, but what really matters is how many azeri meals they can cook. They are programmed. Some of them never travelled without their mothers, because “girl’s dignity is easy to sully”. The best entertainment for them is… someone else’s “toy”. It is also the best way to show how beautiful you are and after wait for the call of mother’s acquaintances with a purpose to introduce you to their sons. So we live from “toy” to “toy” waiting for the one of our own.

Guys are allowed to live lives of their own untill their parents decide – it’s time. Then the race starts. And even very sane ones can’t resist the pressure and give up – they marry ones they’re told to horrifyingly often. If it’s necessary – they break up with current girlfriends, come back from abroad and do all sorts of forced things. In a couple of moths after the wedding they usually find themselves mistresses. Some do it even earlier.

Today, in our society, the “necessity of a wedding” beats up not only romance and the whole “happily ever after” concept but a very needed in marriage “mature approach” as well.

I tried to figure out why exactly it’s happening to us and then it just came up – we simply enjoy going S&M with our lives. And “toy” here is just another toy for tortures.

P.S. and of course, as every rule, this one has its exceptions. Like this:

"Hormet" and bastards

Twenty years ago when R.F. was the General Director of the Azerbaijan State Film Studio a young director V.M. came with a one page idea of a controversial and obviously anti-soviet movie which no one would want to make. R.F. liked it and wrote a scenario, set V.M. as a director and produced the movie himself.

“Yaramaz” (Bastard) they named it.

Several years later after V.M. filmed a series of pro-governmental movies, became deputy minister and GM of a TV channel, for some unknown reason he wouldn’t say hi and became absolutely inadequate to R.F. and some other people.

Couple of days ago R.F. got an invitation to the anniversary of the movie…

Another important word here: “Hormet” – respect.

Yes, we are eager to be respected by our neighbors, co-workers, employees, friends and family. We don’t do anything “ayib” in order not to lose “hormet”. Men consider women as their “qeyret” – dignity, so they assure men’s “hormet” in society.

All people are strictly divided into those who deserve “hormet” and those who don’t. Although, one’s got much less limitations if he’s rich or holds an important position in government. He gets his “hormet” by default. Moreover, his kids also inherit the “hormet”. They park their cars in the middle of the road, because their fathers know the police chief, they get served first in stores and restaurants, they can easily say to a professor: “Get off, my dad can buy you”.

Ironically, we also use this word as a slang for bribery. We give “hormet” to policemen, state employees, university professors. We bribe respectfully.

Does “hormet” count with money or power we have? Can it get cheaper during crisis? Can we get a discount for “hortmet”?

…R.F. refused to go to the anniversary today. His wife and daughter did.

Wonder what happened when they arrived? There were no seats left for them. They had to request representatives of the Ministry of Culture to find ones. V.M. wouldn’t even move.

What was the whole event about? V.M., not the movie.

How many times did he mention R.F. or anyone who helped him with the movie? Only once. At the end.

Did he invite the editor or the rest of the crew? No.

Yes, “hormet” means a lot here. Especially the one for bastards.

The Azeris: Vagif Mustafazadeh

He was born on March 16, 1940 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

He started playing jazz when it was still banned in Soviet Union as the “music of capitalists”.

He won first prize at the 8th International Competition of Jazz Composers for his composition “Waiting for Aziza” inMonaco in 1978, a year before he died.

He had a heart attack during his concert in Tashkent 30 years ago.

Both of his daughters Aziza and Lala are well-known musicians now.

This is the music he left for us.

Baki Gejeleri (Baku nights)

Dushunjeler (Thoughts)

Also Fantaziya, Gelmedi and many more.

More about Vagif Mustafazadeh on Wiki

Karabakh conflict a.k.a. Eurovision contest

So, yesterday after few margaritas we decided to join the Eurovision Party organized by a close friend of mine.

We arrived at the place, ordered drinks, took pictures, listened to the songs, which, I have to admit, were mostly much better than all the other Eurovision contests I remember.

Anyway, then came the Armenian girls.
The crowd started whistling, boo-ing and finally demanded that the organisators turn off the sound. They did. Armenian girls danced and opened their mouths in total silence to the accompaniment of Azerbaijani whistling. As I expected such thing to happen, the only question I asked my friends was: “Is it gonna help return the lands?”. Of course, no one have had the answer.

Then there were Turkish chick and Azerbaijani legs with Arash jumping up and down around them. Have to admit, Aysel looked gorgeous.

And of course, my favourite Norwegian who kicked the big Eurovision ass with his simple but adorable song and forget-about-your-boyfriend smile.

When the traditionally predictable voting started the crowd stood up on their feet cursing one countries and making plans on visiting the most generous to Azerbaijan ones. They were happy to discover they are still alowed to love Ukraine and Netherlands.

I didn’t notice the picture Sirusho held in her hands but I saw it today on TV and it made me think. I finally realized that there’s no chance for this region to become a civilized one unless we rewrite the whole history which makes us all think we’re fucking special.

We might have had plenty of lands and legendary kings but what do we have today? 3 major and several minor conflicts in a tiny region and headlines in the world news? Is this something to be proud of? Are hating-the-neigbor zombie generations good future for us? Not for me or the kids I will eventually have. Not for any of us.

Perhaps, it’s time to switch from Kindergarten approach to the real Conflict Resolution one, don’t you think?

Our kids need fairytales not war tales, love, not hatred.

Our kids deserve the peaceful happiness we have never had.

Azeri lullaby by Shovket Alakbarova

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