Sunday, December 22, 2013

If you’re in Azerbaijan and/or an Azerbaijani

I am almost the worst observer of all time! If I’ve intended to live in a place for a long time (say a year or more), then I almost never care about the society around me, I just go with the flow and act like I’ve adapted (even if I haven’t). But if I’m visiting a place for a short period of time, I will notice all flaws and perfections, traditions and customs around me. Anyways, I’m back in my home country for 2 weeks for winter break, and my observations inspired and encouraged me to write this blog post. Just a tiny part of my experiences from the past year and a half, I guess (it might have been my whole lifetime, I just hadn’t noticed until now) :)
If you’re in Azerbaijan, and are tired and laying down to rest for a bit, no matter how hot the weather is, or how much warmth you’re embraced in, if the elderly say it’s cold and you need to be buried under piles and piles of blankets, you have no choice but to suffer under a weight that’s even heavier than you just to satisfy them.
If you’re in Azerbaijan, you must, and I mean MUST drill your digestive system to accept at least 2 starters, 3 main dishes, a batch of dessert and consume at least 5 cups of tea during one meal course, be it lunch or be it dinner. As if this wasn’t enough, you will hear “Eat more; take more; I said eat. You practically didn’t eat anything. You’ll starve all day, eat!” at least 23 times. Yes, 23. I have counted at several guestings!
If you’re in Azerbaijan, don’t even dare to shower and head out with wet hair! You should actually clear your mind of all similar thoughts! Even if it’s 107.6°F (42°C) outside. You might catch meningitis or somehow get STDs by going out with a wet head on an egg-boiling hot weather! I have never seen anything more logical than being diagnosed with STD through air and being blamed for it by going out with a wet head. (P.S. I don’t ever remember wearing a hat after showering and going out in the coldest weather of Iowa which would go down to lower than -10°C, if I’m not mistaken. Yes, I did have icicles hanging down my hair, but it never affected my health in a negative way.)
If you’re an Azerbaijani and are visiting your (usually massive) family in one of the regions of Azerbaijan, you will be up-to-date of all the recent (and of course, old) gossip going around in town or the whole of Azerbaijan in just 3 cups of tea. Usually, these 3 cups of tea can take up to 3-4 hours to drink. But who cares, you’ll never be bored with the elderly kicking it up with their “stories”, if you know what I mean.
If you’re in Azerbaijan and are visiting somebody you haven’t seen in a long while, or are with your parents while they’re visiting someone, be aware – you will be HOGGED in chunks of saliva! They don’t care if you know them or not, as long as you’re with someone they know or if they know who you are as an individual, you have no choice but to be licked all over your cheeks like a cow. They call this greeting kissing. Believe me, cheeks are ok. I have recently been through a much worse experience and I feel no shame in sharing it with the rest of the world – my grandparents’ neighbors saw my mom and thought it would be nice to drop by and say hi. Unfortunately, I was with my mom at that point. Not only did their neighbor kiss, erm I mean, bury my face in a bucket of saliva, but she hogged my face and thought it would be nice to kiss my lips too. Believe me, it doesn’t feel good to be kissed on the lips by a 70 year old woman who smells like onions and eggplant. Pray this never happens again!
If you’re an Azerbaijani girl that’s at least at the age of 20, then you are either: 
1)    trying to find a way to escape all the marriage convos showering down on you (I guess now you understand why I’ve hung on to Newcastle so hard)
2)    waiting for some loser to come knocking on your door and take you off your parents’ hands (I guess you’re really sick of your family, sad.. very sad). This, in one way, could be considered a way of escape too, I guess. But not the best route; girls, please have pride and honor, make me proud, every single one of you represent our gender!
If you are a foreigner and have lived in Azerbaijan for a certain period of time or are an observant Azerbaijani, don’t be shy to share your experiences with me/us! I would be more than glad to share it on my blog! :)
Lots of love,
Turana :)
P.S. From Mike Raybourne's personal experience: 
two off the top of my head:
This first can be annoying or complimentary depending on who I’m talkin to. Whenever I meet someone for the first time they instantly assume Im Russian and start talking to me in that language. When that doesnt work…. they switch to Turkish :D I’ve had people insist Im Turkish even after I tell them I’m from the States.
The second is way worse, its the ‘open windows / wind = illness’ idea. Countless times I would be stuck on a sweaty marshrutka un able to open the window cause of the wind. Eventually I got good at grabbing a window seat, but even then the person behind me would push it closed. I started sticking my elbow out the window to stop this…. and people just closed the window on my arm :/