"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:

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    • Myrthe
    • May 28th, 2009

    I swear it’s as if you are talking about Armenian weddings!

    Somehow all but one of the Armenian weddings I have attended made me sad. People spend much more money on the wedding than they can afford, brides (and sometimes grooms as well) who look deeply sad. And that is what is supposed to be a girl’s “best day in life”, the thing she has been groomed for since the day she was born, her “goal in life”.

    Another thing that I still do not understand is the speed with which newly married couples start having children. They often hardly know each other or at the very least haven’t gotten used to living together yet and bam! the fresh wife is pregnant. It doesn’t matter what the financial situation of the (extended) family is, whether they can actually afford to raise a child. And I’m not even talking about young men and women becoming parents when they have hardly grown up themselves, if at all… I don’t know if the situation is similar in Azerbaijan.

    Sorry, I just needed to rant about this, as it’s in my system right now. Yesterday I heard a very typical story of a family I know quite well where bride and groom (him being twenty, her being on or two years younger) got married two and a half months ago or so, the girl is already two months pregnant, he has no job and neither do the members of his family (as is customary, the bride moved in with her husband’s family). Family planning is still a very dirty word in Armenia.

    • scaryazeri
    • May 28th, 2009

    Tragic. I know exactly what you mean.

    • Onnik Krikorian
    • May 28th, 2009

    Nigar, some of the issues remind me of this post a friend I had writing for my old blog wrote:

    http://oneworld.blogsome.com/2006/02/20/the-part-must-conform-to-the-whole/

    Society and cultural values, pressures not too dissimilar once again.

    • Sona
    • May 29th, 2009

    Nigar, very well written, thank you very much for that… You are absolutely right: many guys indeed are forced, emotionally blackmailed to get married by the “dying” mother who then all of a sudden gets miraculously healed once the guy agrees to marry the “her first cousin’s brother-in-law’s daughter, who is only 17 and is a good family girl”. No-one gives a toss that the only intellectual luggage she can contribute to the relationship is her schooldays memories and her sexual experience is limited to the scarce intercourse scenes described in female novels… But I would say it depends on the social class of the family… Higher the education, less tradition-freak the family is, less toying around is taking place. Yes, except for yelling at each other during the crazy toy preparations… This doesn’t change :)))

    • Sona
    • May 29th, 2009

    Nigar, very well written, thank you very much for that… You are absolutely right: many guys indeed are forced, emotionally blackmailed to get married by the “dying” mother who then all of a sudden gets miraculously healed once the guy agrees to marry the “her first cousin’s brother-in-law’s daughter, who is only 17 and is a good family girl”. No-one gives a toss that the only intellectual luggage she can contribute to the relationship is her schooldays memories and her sexual experience is limited to the scarce intercourse scenes described in female novels… But I would say it depends on the social class of the family… Higher the education, less tradition-freak the family is, less toying around is taking place. Yes, except for yelling at each other during the crazy toy preparations… This doesn’t change :)))

    • Ramil
    • May 31st, 2009

    Come on. Don’t be so negative and criticizing. At least there is no better social model in the world. One gets scared to death if you look at the marriage statistics in US and Europe. 50 percent of the marriaged end up in divorces in the first 10 years of the marriage (these marriages were supposedly based on love, since no one can argue that women were forced to marry). Please, show a little bit respect to your nation and traditions – products of thousands of years of try and errors of our ancestors. Turklerin sozu olmasin – hemen Avropalilarin ve Amerikalilarin gazina gelme. Even though I know that you are feminist and liberal (socially), :-))) things which I find ungrounded and dangerous experiences in the world history.

    • Ramil
    • May 31st, 2009

    Nigar, don’t get upset, but I think the people in this video are sick, not to mention women especially. 🙂

    Myrthe, I know that you may have something similar to toy, but please don’t just say that Armenians invented it and others stolen from you. 🙂

    • Fatalin
    • May 31st, 2009

    U believe in statistics? Sad.

    Where’re the statistics of unhappy marriages in Aze? It’s better to marry someone u don’t love, u say?

    What thousands years are u talking about, anyway? Where do these traditions come from? Who invented them? Azeris, turks, arabs, fire worshippers?

    LOVE our traditions, meals, art, dances, hospitality. Hate traditional blindness, hypocrisy and contagious stupidity as well as the word ‘tradition’ when used as an exuse of personal insecurity. And trust me, THIS is NOT the BEST SOCIAL MODEL in the world. Might be the easiest one tho.

    Sorry if I hurt ur feelings.

    • Fatalin
    • May 31st, 2009

    Myrthe, the situation with kids is exactly the same in here. If u’re not pregnant like the first month after the marriage people usually start talking about you probably having health problems. Ridiculous. I know what u mean.

    Ramil, was it a joke or just an inappropriate comment?

    • Myrthe
    • June 1st, 2009

    Ramil, did I miss something in what I wrote? I don’t recall writing anything about “us Armenians” inventing something. If you want a discussion, please, react to what I actually wrote, not to what I didn’t.

    Something else Armenians and Azeris apparently have in common: when gender relations and cultural traditions are discussed, it’s always the men who defend those traditions. Women always react with a “you are so right about bringing the topic up and questioning those traditions”.

    Oh, and Ramil, for the record: I am not Armenian. I am Dutch. Which happens to be one of those Western nationalities with high divorce rate. I also consider myself liberal and a feminist. Which must really make you despise me now. Pick and choose which of those is worse… 😉

    • Ramil
    • June 1st, 2009

    Salam Nigar. Of course it was a joke. 🙂 However, I would wish that at least girls refrained from such extremly “liberal” behaviors in public places. Believe in me I lived in US for a while, but can say that not many girls even there would dare to do this in public places, especially if they are beyond the certain age level (usually after 20s when they become very serious about marriage and search for long-term partners) 🙂

    • Ramil
    • June 1st, 2009

    Nigar, my comments were mainly related to the choice of marriage partners in Azerbaijan. I also find the pre-marriage process and the toy ceremony in Azerbaijan extremly luxurous, silly, waste of valuable resources which could be invested, unrelated to the religion and our core national traditions, etc. I think the state intervention is must in terms of at least regulating the spending on the toy ceremonies. 🙂 What you think?

    • Fatalin
    • June 1st, 2009

    Is it the same process of choice as in Lankaran, where they’re still allowed to marry their 9 year old daughters to grown-up men? :)) Or the one that allows young girls to marry their cousins? :))) And what about having kids at 20? What are you gonna teach ur kid without any life experience? Come on, you know there is a problem 🙂

    P.S. and I think state already has too much power and too many fields to intervent :)))

    • Fatalin
    • June 1st, 2009

    Myrthe, u know what I have noticed lately – it’s a vicious circle actually. Men are raised by women (their mothers) and here it’s usually mothers who demand their sons marry virgin/Azeri/quiet/rich girl.

    The problem with parents here is they see their kids as their property, hence inability of decisionmaking and obedience to parents. Sad, isn’t it? Is it the same in Armenia?

    • Myrthe
    • June 1st, 2009

    I think there’s a similar situation in Armenian culture, Raising the children is largely a mother’s job, though I am not sure about the mothers being specifically the ones who demand a virgin/decent/”obedient” etc. girl. That may be the case as well, but I haven’t really encountered that the especially mother is pressuring that.

    But I have a feeling that the mother definitely plays a role in the “bride approval process”, if only considering that in Armenian culture usually the bride moves in with the groom and his parents. This changes the hierarchy in the family as the new bride becomes the lowest ranked and the mother-in-law gets to “boss her around”. That may be overstating it a bit (depending on the family), but definitely it’s the MIL who holds the reigns there. Ah, mothers-in-law: I think that’s a topic for a separate post! 😉

    While there are a growing number of exceptions (fortunately!), I find that Armenian young adults can be rather immature and, yes, very dependent on parents when it comes to decision making. On the other hand, just like you said, parents definitely don’t seem to trust their children when it comes to decision making and becoming independent, mature, adult individuals.

    I guess this is one reason why young adults seem to hide a lot from their parents, especially when it comes to boyfriends/girlfriends – and I am not even referring to having sex before marriage (that’s a whole different issue! 😉 ), just the relationship itself is already hidden from the parents. But at the same time, parents (and especially mothers) are included in sometimes the most ridiculous decisions.

    Even many of the young adults who are more mature and independent still have to find a way to deal with parents who don’t see their children that way and who think they know what’s best for their children.

    I know many exceptions and I have observed many different situations, but I see the above played out over and over again in different degrees and variations.

    • Nata
    • June 7th, 2009

    This video is off the hook! Thank you for sharing. And to the dude who said that women don’t act this way in US I suggest to watch “Coyote Ugly”.
    US is very conservative indeed, but we also have a sense of humor. So lighten up, dude. And oh btw, divorce stats in Azerbaijan have been climbing up steadily for the past 15 years. So I guess this model isn’t working so well after all.

    • Anonymous
    • July 14th, 2009

    Nigar, I agree with your statements. But i wouldn't say it is same for everyone. As everything changing mentality is also changing.of there are many people who are forced to get married or girls who just live to get married but there are also people who just freely choose their partners and decide when to get married. Toy merasimi raziyam sizinle. Heddinden artig israfciligdi. But I don't every single person should travel alone abroad. Or we can not say every girl is dreaming about it.
    I have grown in a very small region, studied in USA and Europe. very soon i will back to Azerbaijan and yes I want to get married in a couple of years (i am 24 now). Not because i have to but because I love someone and i want to be with him and continue my life journey with him.
    I would say you are stereotyping instead of saying majority of people. there are plenty of people around me that get married to the one they love and whenever they want.
    Just wanted to say my opinion:)
    P.S. my friends in US are married almost all of them (age range 22-24) :):):)

    • Anonymous
    • July 20th, 2009

    The majority of people all around the world are uneducated ignarant dumb idiots, who follow the orders they are told just because certain powers want the majority of people all around the world to be uneducated ignarant dumb idiots, who follow the orders they are told.

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