Monday, March 31, 2008

...Sheki welcomes spring...

Sheki welcomes spring and opens its doors to new life :)

Have a great week, everyone! :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

...Black Gold...

Those who have never seen oil rigs and are not familiar with the oil industry might not realize what they see on these pictures....

These are oil the middle of Baku village "Suraxanı" (to be pronounced [Surakhani]).

Suraxanı is the first location in Azerbaijan where first oil and gas resources were discovered...

Oil is what attracted to Azerbaijan Nobel brothers and the Rockefellers, in early XX century, fuelled the Soviet Army weapons to win World War II and made Azerbaijan economy the fastest growing economy in the world with 35% GDP growth rate in 2007. (to name only a few major facts...)

As everyone knows nowadays, oil is a mixed blessing. It gives vast opportunities and wealth but it also gives lots of radiation (initially labourers were actually extracting oil with buckets just going into the well; as you can see on the pictures there are people that still live on these lands, fuelled with oil radiation); "friends" to the country that are friends only because the country has the energy (and you know what happens when loyalty of friends is only caused by wealth) and laid-back attitude to the citizens. But of course every threat can be turned into opportunity, I believe, especially now, in XXI century, when there are so many examples in the history...

Today we are having a beautiful spring weather in Baku and Sheki and it is a shame that I am posting these pictures I took on a gloomy day...but I came across them among my pictures and decided to share the pictures and a bit of a history with you...


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


This week everyone in Azerbaijan is on leave. The reason is that the country is continuing to celebrate Novruz. Novruz has a very ancient Zoroastrian origin. We celebrate the arrival of spring, arrival of new life and new beginning.Starting four weeks in advance of Novruz each Tuesday we celebrate Tuesday of Wind, Tuesday of Water, Tuesday of Fire and Tuesday of Earth. Evening of 20th of March and 21st of March are actual Novruz celebration days. 20th of March falls on the spring equinox, the first day of spring. At the time of the equinox, the sun is observed to be directly over the equator, and the north and south poles of the Earth lie along the solar terminator; sunlight is evenly divided between the north and south hemispheres. No matter which political regime Azerbaijan always celebrated Novruz. We have many traditions connected with Novruz such as jumping over fire (to drop past year troubles into the fire), prepare special Novruz deserts (to energize the batteries of the body that get exhausted during cold winter) and visiting the families and relatives. Usually we call March crazy…since it is impossible to guess the weather during this special month. Special because everybody is looking forward to warmer weather and spring and appreciates every extra sun light we receive. March is playing with people offering different weather every day…This year we are lucky as the weather during Novruz is great. Since the holidays are long everyone is either in the regions or abroad traveling and having a good time. I don’t have special pictures unfortunately…this is the picture of Novruz pastries and growing wheat "səməni" (also a must thing to have for Novruz in every household)… Happy Spring, everyone!!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Azerbaijan: The nicer side of Baku by Lindsay Fincher

Poor Baku just can't get a break. It's like the Houston of the Caucasus. Forbes magazine recently listed it as the dirtiest city in the world, which is quite a blow to their long shot aspirations of hosting the 2016 summer Olympics:
Unless you're in the oil business, there's little reason to brave the choking pollution of Baku, Azerbaijan. Fetid water, oil ponds and life-threatening levels of air pollution emitted from drilling and shipping land the former Soviet manufacturing center at the bottom of this year's list as the world's dirtiest city.
On the contrary, I found Baku an interesting city to visit. It's not all leaking pipelines and fetid pools of oil (but yes, there is plenty of that to see).

This is a view of Old Town Baku from the top of the Maiden Tower. Besides a large population of carpet salesmen, the Old Town consists of the aforementioned Maiden Tower (12th century), the Palace of the Shirvanshahs (15th century), and beautiful, narrow streets that would rival those in Dubrovnik. In 2000, the Walled City of Baku, the Maiden Tower, and the Palace of the Shirvanshahs were deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If this doesn't quite win you over, you could always visit the gigantic Dubai like "Death Star" hotel they are building on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The beach, as shown in the artistic rendering of the hotel (complete with tiki torches and beachside dining), sure does look tempting.