Monday, November 19, 2007

Modern symphony of Baku...

Sheki doesn't have traffic jams yet thank God. But Baku, the capital, does.

I am posting today an extract from the article that my colleague Axel Reiserer wrote in our corporate newspaper about traffic jams in Baku. As you know there are different ways of looking at everything in life...:) Wishing you a cheerful start for the business week!

"The most important part of a car, you learn in Baku, is the horn. There are more ways of honking than there are ways of saying “I profusely and unreservedly apologise” in Japanese. There is a kind of honking to warn someone. There is honking to greet a friend. There is honking to yell at somebody. There is honking to threaten a hostile moving object. There is honking to scare away pedestrians (a certain class of imbeciles who, luckily, are becoming less and less frequent in Baku and whose extermination thanks to traffic accidents scientists predict by 2025.) There is honking to express joy because the road is free (rare during daytime, but very popular between 2am and 5am). There is honking to express frustration because the road is jammed (all other times). There is honking because someone is honking at you. And there is honking because someone has not honked at the right time, in the right place or in the right style. The latter is also important, because there are various techniques of honking: loudly, aggressively, tenderly, amicably, shyly, with hostility, relentlessly.
Honking is the symphony Bakintsy compose to celebrate their city every day. It all becomes a carpet of sound which has no ending and no beginning and encloses the whole city like the magic carpets in oriental fairy-tales. And surely magic is the only plausible explanation of how Baku residents manage to move their cars while being preoccupied using the horns.
But then this is the Orient after all."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


In every house in Sheki there is a lamp like the one on this picture. This is an oil lamp that is used if the lights go off. Our grandmothers left them to us. During our wedding ceremonies there is always someone that walks in front of the/next to the bride and carries a lamp or candles as the symbol of light that bride would bring to her new family and home…

I like the shape of these lamps and touch of history that they carry…and even if we don’t have to use them (thankfully) often now it is still nice to have one in the house.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I was in Georgia last week and the plane that took me there had "Sheki" written on it. I assume that this is the plane that used to fly to Sheki when the airport there was working. Currently the airport is not working but I hope one day it will resume its operations and getting there will take only 45 minutes.
I was scared to take this photo as security could get angry but I did it quickly as I thought that it is some kind of "fun" photo.

Monday, October 15, 2007

End of Ramadan

Every year during 30 days Muslim people fast during the month of Ramadan. Each year the month of Ramadan is moving backwards. Fasting people wake up early in the morning until the Sun comes out and eat (this is called imsaq) and fast the whole day until its dark. When Moon comes out people break their fast (this is called iftar as mentioned in my yesterday’s post). When fast is open fasting people drink a bit of water, taste salt and eat dates first…In addition to fasting, fasting people can not/do not/should not drink, smoke, make love, gossip or behave badly during the month of Ramadan. Sorry for this dilettante way of Ramadan description. Thorough information can be found on sophisticated websites.

12 October, has been the end of Ramadan this year and public holidays continue in Azerbaijan until tomorrow. The tradition is that on Ramadan people go and visit as many fasting people they know as possible and congratulate them with the holiday. Fasting people receive presents and sweets and lots of attention. Many meals are prepared for dinner and guests come and go the whole day. The atmosphere is very festive. Women do a lot of cooking and get tired of course...Also one of the main and serious traditions is “fitra” – allocation of some sum of money which has to be equal number of members of the family multiplied by a certain sum of money per head (it can be also much more money of course than the formula gives :) depending on income and generosity of the family) and give it to poor so that they can prepare holiday dinner.

On holiday I visited my parents who fasted to congratulate them with their holiday and have dinner with them and pass small presents that we have prepared to them with my husband. We have already given out our “fitra”. This is a picture of "plov", so called "king of dishes" in Azerbaijan and its kind of dressings that my mom prepared. I will have separate post on plov one day.

Personally I have never fasted…initially I never thought about it, then I always had an excuse not to fast cause I thought that fasting and studying and working in parallel would be too hard. Ramadan is a psychologically hard month for non fasting people because they feel remorse each time they eat and drink while people around are fasting. There are many people around me who choose/are able to fast and I deeply respect their belief, discipline and strength of will. Therefore these days are their days. I can imagine the euphoria and pride they must feel for their belief, accomplishment, strength of will and discipline. Well done! Congratulations and respect!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


As you might know it is the month of Ramadan in Muslim countries now including Azerbaijan. During Ramadan people fast from dawn to dusk and when in the evenings they break their fast their relatives, friends invite them for "iftar". Iftar is said about stopping the fast in the evening. We say that it is "savab" (something that is considered as a good deed before Allah) to invite fasting people to iftar. This good tradition is followed nowadays and people enjoy breaking their fast in the evenings together or invite fasting people to iftar. Usually there is plenty of food on the table and women try to be very creative and prepare many different kinds of food. It is also very common to help poor people so that their iftars are as rich as possible.

Today I am posting photos of the iftar we were invited to recently by our relatives. I am not fasting but my parents are so I joined their iftar. The atmosphere at iftars is very festive and respectful and food is delicious...


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Caucasian Albanian Temple in Kish

There is a belief that inside the Kish temple there is a spot on the wall where one can make a wish and try to "stick" a coin on the wall just by pressing the coin upon the wall...the coin would stay on the wall only if you are making a wish with a pure/clean heart and if your wish would come true...this kind of a belief about the place means that the place is very sacred...
please see the previous post on the temple for reference...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Caucasian Albanian Temple in Kish

These are pictures of Albanian temple built on the most ancient sanctuary in the territory of former Caucasian Albania in Kish village of Sheki. There are many interesting exhibits in the temple including graves of Albanian people of I-V B.C. There are many ancient Caucasian Albania temples in Azerbaijan. This temple and overall this museum complex was restored with support of Norwegian government. World famous Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer Thor Heyerdahl after his visit to Sheki and Kish said that he believed that ancient Norwegians migrated from Sheki/Kish area...interesting...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Kebab sessions...

Azerbaijan is a country where people like eating meat...yes, we do have vegetarians but not so many...I would say that there is a cult of food especially in the regions including Sheki. People are very attentive to what they are eating, everything is mostly organic and very fresh, the culture of frozen and "ready to eat" food hasn't reached there yet...And one of the most preferred meals of course is "kebab". We do not call it barbeque we call it kebab. There are many kinds of kebabs but the most known and classic is kebab from mutton. Kebabs are prepared on charcoal. I personally think that the smell that comes from the meat oil that drops on charcoal is one of the most appetizing smells in the world. Yes, I am being subjective, because I love to eat kebab. Usually kebabs are prepared by men in Sheki and we say that it is a masculine job, but on these pictures I have women who volunteered to prepare the meal. Also preparation of kebab involves preparations etc. Therefore I am posting some pictures where you can see how people are getting ready to cook. This kebab is being prepared in the mountains in an open air...that is why the scene is so casual...Apologies to people who are fasting...please do not read this post until you open your fast.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

...another old door...and optimism...

Here is a photo of another old door(gate) in Sheki...those smaller doors inside the gate are for people to use. It is fun to use these kind of doors/gates but people rarely have them now as they are considered uncomfortable...The gates are open completely for cars or cattle.
Extension that you the see on the left side must be the place where the house owners keep fodder.
I also like the sky...very often people forget to raise their head and observe beautiful sky above if having a burden on their shoulders that bends their heads downwards...but beautiful sky brings a lot of optimism...I think :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

can you see the apples?...

can you see the apples on the tree? I really loved the tree and the spot and decided to share with you its photo.
p.s. you can read my article about Sheki here

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

...yellow door...

Today I am posting a photo of a yellow door that I came across in Sheki. I thought that the colour is quite cheerful...The house that you see behind it is quite old as its style tells it...actually the door and the house look quite old as well...

have a cheerful day!!

p.s. you can read my article about Sheki here


Saturday, September 22, 2007

...about tea...

Hi. Missed you all and thank you very much for your comments.

Going back to tea subject…

Today I am posting a photo of a tea set. Please pay attention to at least three things on the photo: samovar (the usual), tea pot on it (as you might know we prepare tea leaves separately in a ceramic tea pot.) We never boil the tea. First we put couple of spoons of tea into the tea pot and then add just boiled hot water. Then we put the pot on a little gas or as on this picture on a samovar so that tea leaves open up…but if tea starts to boil it means that tea is wasted and another tea must be prepared…then I want you to pay attention to typical Azerbaijani tea glasses called “armudu” meaning pear-shaped. The idea of “armudu” is that tea stays hot in narrower lower part and becomes cooler on a wider top part (where one’s lips touch). On this picture as you can see lemons are in “armudu” waiting for tea to get ready and be served. This picture is taken in “çayxana” tea-house…at homes lemons are usually never put into the tea glasses in advance as preferences differ and people might want to drink tea without lemon. We never drink tea with milk…and sugar is added into tea mostly at breakfasts…one would scarcely find an Azerbaijani drinking sweet tea (as we call tea with sugar) during typical relaxing tea sessions…

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tea house in Ilisu village of Qakh...

As promised yesterday (please see the previous post) I am posting today pictures of the tea house / cafe / restaurant (call it the way you want since they are offering both tea and food) of Ilisu village of Qakh. We started with tea but then decided to have a meal as well. The waiter said that it looked like it would rain so we escaped to shelter (you can see the sheltered places on 1st and 3rd photos). Tea pot and glasses you see on the 2nd photo are very typical for Azerbaijan. Drinking tea non stop is also very normal for Azerbaijanis...I will go back to tea topic again at some point in future inshAllah...(means God allowing...this way we show that we know that notions like tomorrow do not really depend on us...but this is a completely different subject...) Unfortunately I dont have photos that would be without thank you for bearing with me.
Have a good day :)

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Ilisu is the village situated in Qakh region of Azerbaijan. Qakh is located in 1.5-2 hours drive from Sheki. Both regions are blessed with beautiful mountains and in Qakh mountains are even closer (I mean that people live even closer to the mountains). Ilisu village of Qakh is famous for its healing hot(warm) springs but it is not possible to drive up to them but only go on horses. We didn't go up to those springs this time but only walked up to see the waterfall. Going up is quite difficult (especially to my husband who had to carry the child up there as well) and it is a walk of around 1km...but we made it...unfortunately there was no tea house up there...going down was easier :) and we rushed to drive and find a tea house in the village...if you wish to see the photos of the tea house wait for my tomorrow's post...:)


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Qircana river...

This is a photo of "Qircana" river of Sheki. The river is not very wide (unless it is flooding) but it is quite fast and the stones on its bottom are quite slippery. To cut the story short I was scared to cross the river cause there was a good chance that I would fall into river and get wet. So I stayed on my part. The water in the river is ice cold and I really mean it. Very great creation of nature.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Long day...

I was passing by the shoes of my son and noticed that someone (must be my sisters) put his shoes and socks neatly so that we find them easily when he wakes up. I liked the way they were put and decided to take their photo and share with you…I realize that the photo has nothing to do directly with Sheki…but actually the baby is in Sheki so it is kind of applicable…:)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


This summer Sheki was lucky to have lots of rain...continuous rainy days are not very pleasant but rain for a short period of time is nice...also evening and night rains are very refreshing and romantic :)
Imagine sitting after a hot weather under a shelter, listening to rain, enjoying the scenery and drinking tea in a nice company of people..superb!:)
I am not sure if you can see on my picture rain drops...they were really big...rain was short but very heavy with thunderstorm...very impressive indeed...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rose bush...

Today I am posting a photo of a beautiful rose bush that I saw in the garden of the "Albanian Temple" I mentioned in my below post. Isn't it beautiful?
Good gardener of the museum one more time revealed the greatness of the nature...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Old men of Sheki...

Today I am posting a photo of three men whom I met in the street of Kish village of Sheki. They are playing backgammon, one of the most favorite national table games of Azerbaijanis. I have asked them if I could take their photo and post it on internet and they replied that I was free to do whatever I wanted. Actually I just wanted to share with you this scene that I couldn’t pass by.

Interestingly these old men are sitting close to an old Albanian Temple of Kish village. Well the Temple is of V – VI century B.C. (the oldest Albanian church) so men are younger :) I will start series of posts devoted to the mentioned temple but for now here are typical and real characters of Sheki. I thought it would be interesting for you to see them. Take your time and look attentively to the cloths they wear and wood cuts they sit on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

City walls II...

Today I am posting more photos of Sheki city walls...I have written few words about the city walls on the earlier post (please see below).


...they say that in Soviet times there was a time when there was a high tax on keeping donkeys as a part of cattle. People in Sheki that could not afford the taxes would just take the donkeys out to the fields and leave them out there...donkeys would fine their way back and most probably couldn't understand why they were not let in...

...nowadays people are free to keep the donkeys although one can mainly see them in the villages rather than in Sheki itself...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

sending you sunshine from Sheki...

I think someone greeted me once saying..."Hello, sunshine" felt nice...:)

Today I am sending you sunshine from Sheki :)

Have a good day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

City walls...

All ancient cities have city walls that protected the city during endless medieval wars. Sheki is not an exception. City walls protected Sheki inhabitants from numerous invaders. Nowadays remainders of the wall stand proudly to remind the great past and hard times that the city lived in order to survive.

These are the pictures of the city wall and the view that spreads beneath it...


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Something different...

Dear All, in case you are tired of landscape I am posting a photo of my son who is a chest...of my late grandmother...this is one of the ways to keep him you might know for +- 18 months old everything seems boring after... 5 minutes...
Chest is something that exists in every Sheki house. Every girl when getting married would take one chest with her to her new house where she would keep her linen and other things that she wouldn't use in present but keep for her bright future :) nowadays girls think it is not cool any longer to have this huge chest as a part of the furniture...but I still love chest is still in Sheki but I hope to move it one day to Baku :)
Enjoy your weekend :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Childhood dreams...

I am not sure if you can see on left hand side of the picture sign board of the restaurant. It says "Gagarin restaurant". To me it is quite funny that the restaurant in the centre of Sheki is called "Gagarin". I imagined that maybe the owner had a childhood dream of becoming a cosmonaut and then when his dream wasn't realized he gave his restaurant Gagarin’s name...:) who knows...:)

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Anyone who comes to Sheki, goes to see "Markhal" (spelled Marxal in Azerbaijani). Markhal is a place in mountains where one can rest, have tea or food, enjoy the views, cooler weather (especially in the evenings) and life in general. Unfortunately I do not know the history of the place. I have always known it as a spot where people go to have picnics...Although there are other nice places to go to in Sheki, Markhal still enjoys the status of the most known resort of the area.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Just another view...

The title says it all...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

General view...

Dear All, in case you have forgotten how Sheki looks in general here is a photo, courtesy of my relative, Suraya xanim Abdurahmanova.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Pomegranate tree...

Dear All,

After some break I am posting today pictures of a pomegranate tree in my garden in Sheki. Pomegranates grow well and taste excellent mainly in Goychay region of Azerbaijan but other regions also grow them. We also have in our garden in Sheki couple of pomegranate trees as my father is a big fond of them. To me it is astonishing that the flowers that you see on the pictures turn into fruits. I truly find it amazing. This is another miracle of nature I would say.

Nowadays the whole world seems to be obsessed with pomegranate…we in Azerbaijan have always been a big fond of pomegranate…to us the season starts mid October and onwards…deseeding the pomegranate makes the hands dirty and its quite hard to clean the hands and nails afterwards…therefore sometimes women ask men to deseed the pomegranates for them :) our supermarkets do not sell ready pomegranate seeds…also preference of course is given to pomegranates bought in the market…Fruits of pomegranate trees of our garden won’t be that sweet but still it is always a pleasure to reap the fruits of one’s own garden :)

Have a good week! :)