A Travellerspoint blog

October 2013

Contrast and Thoughts Norway vs. Azerbaijan

Reflection after my parents visit

sunny 20 °C

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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.

Beep BEEEP
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.

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Oh Baby
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.

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Posted by CamillaS 06:00 Archived in Azerbaijan Tagged children traffic reflection baku azerbaijan visit living_abroad Comments (0)

Autumn of Winds: Azerbaijan

A change of seasons are happening in Azerbaijan

]Its already late October, but my sense of time and space is not really hanging on. Since June I have been in an seeming ever-lasting summer with 30-40 degrees. Coming from a temperate climate of Northern Europe, my perception of time and months was quite connected to the seasonal changes of the nature, but here the seasons are so different, so I've lost these reference points.

Now the climate has definitely changed a bit though, and it proves the eternal sunshine has been replaced by clouds, wind and even a bit of rain. I've been quite acclimated to the warmer temperatures though as I now wrap myself in a scarf because of cold in 17 degrees! Haha.. Autumn has also brought some new flavors; fresh fruits like pomegranates, feijoas, tangerines and apples from all over Azerbaijan are entering the market.

We have also had some important celebrations these last few weeks; Gurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) a muslim holiday was celebrated last week. Gurban Bayram is the "feast of sacrifice", and its the second religious holiday of the muslim year (first being Ramadan). It honors Abrahams dedication to God when he was willing to sacrifice his own son to God. At the last moment God intervened and told him to sacrifice a lamb instead. The celebration is normally a meal with family and friends and giving to the poor is an important part. My family happened to be visiting me at the time, and luckily we got the chance to see the celebration. So for the first time we got to celebrate a muslim holiday with home-made Azerbaijani food in my friends house a bit outside the city.

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Some views from the city these days; autumn Boulvard, spices at the market, apple-filled cars. These days you can see old cars filled to the brim with apples they sell dirt-cheap in the cities; 1AZN (7,5NOK) gives you 3 KG apples.

Camilla

Posted by CamillaS 10:07 Archived in Azerbaijan Tagged autumn living baku abroad Comments (0)

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