On Any Given Bus, You Might Be Offered Anything
Like this past Sunday, when I headed out on a trek to Minqəcevir. There’s a bus that goes from Lənkəran to Minqecəvir and it leaves at 8:30 in the morning. That’s pretty early. Yet, the way they drive around here, it’s necessary. It’s a 9+ hour drive. Not because it’s a long way, but because the bus can’t go any faster than about 50 km/h. This also means that the people on the bus have a long time to look at me, wonder who I am and why I’m here, and offer me strange things.
This is what I got on this trip:
• An offer of marriage, by the girl’s mother. Apparently she’s 18, beautiful, lives in Salyan, and speaks perfect Russian. She was not on the bus, but her mother promised she could visit us in Lənkəran
• Cigarettes, from multiple sources, including a 17-year old guy named Qurban and a soldier in the army who looked to be about 15 years old
• Porn, from Qurban, who wanted to show it to me on his cellphone
• Various foods, including peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, and pretzel-shaped bread
• A splash of perfume or cologne
These are the hazards of travelling as a foreigner in this country. If you manage to communicate at all with them (and my Azerbaijani language skills are no treat, I’m sure) you will most certainly get about six to eight questions that are nearly the same every time. They generally include your age, whether you are single or married, and how much money you make. Being a man, I am also offered daughters’ hands in marriage too often. It’s one of those situations where they are joking if you say no, but serious if you say yes.