Reflection after my parents visit
11.10.2013 - 19.10.2013 20 °C
I finally got a long-awaited visit from my parents after 4,5 months of living in Azerbaijan. When you are moving to a different country or environment, you undergo a initial culture shock and discovery. The first few weeks are thrilling exciting and full of new experiences where even taking the bus can be an exciting new adventure. (I remember my huge challenge in China; figuring out how to buy fruit). But as time passes you find your own pace and place in the new environment
So now that I've been here a while it was an especially interesting exercise of reflection to see what they reacted to and thought of my temporary home . country. These are some of the things that my parents took a notice of during their weeks here.
Norway is a quiet country, small cities, its even illegal to honk the horn unnecessary. So coming to Baku and seeing a totally different traffic picture left memories. First of all its the honking, the drivers will not think twice about hitting the horn as if the drivers feel the need to let everyone know that they are coming. The traffic is definitely a lot more audible than Norway. But even when the car is not in motion it brought a shock, because the parking is all over the place. Imagine a "unblock me" game and you have the parking norms, who cares about the guy that is parked is blocked in by 2 cars on all sides. That's his problem! I guess because I've never had a driving license I don't notice everything about the traffic picture, but this is obvious to anyone that its not a good solution.
I knew before coming here Azerbaijan is a family focused culture, but it was my parents that pointed it out for me just how much the city has for kids. Going to the center or a park in the evening and you will find families with their kids playing around. And there is a lot of things especially equipped for children, the parks has trampolines, toys, electric cars and other activities for the small ones. I guess its not that Norway is not focused on kids (Norway is infamous for spoiling them), but rather we have more of these things at home, and many use their own gardens or playgrounds around their house instead. But its not just this practical aspect, there is also a bunch of stores focused on the kiddies. The country adores their little ones that's for sure.
Taste of Azerbaijan
One of the first things people asked me after I arrived (after "did you like Baku?") was "Did you try national food? Azerbaijan has the best cuisine". I have since tasted Azerbaijani food several times of course, (best be when home-made). Food is an important part of the culture. Let me tell you my parents loved the food here! And not just the local ones; we went to Azerbaijani, Georgian, Lebanese, Japanese, Turkish, Chinese and more. The diversity of food you can get here is amazing (They even sell Norwegian salmon!) In the edible section you can find just as much diversity here as you would in Norway, and when it comes to products in stores perhaps even more diversity. You can get danish cookies, norwegian water, Ukrainian chocolates and french wines. Its perhaps a novel thing, but having the opportunity to get the types of products you get in your home country really makes a difference when you are living abroad. Anyway it also says something about the diversity of people living in Azerbaijan(well Baku) these days; its an international crowd and ever expanding.
This was perhaps a bit of a short list, but I don't want to drag it out. My parents liked Baku a lot, thought it was a beautiful city with good food and many fun experiences.