The Best Description of Road Transit in Azerbaijan
You can find it here. It’s an old article, from a website that I’m pretty sure doesn’t function anymore. But the article is there, and the whimsical, nervous fashion in which it’s written captures exactly the feeling you get when you’re in a car in Azerbaijan. I know because as I’m writing this, I’m in a car driving north to Baku and the article has captured everything and more. The short note is worth reading in full, but I’ll quote my favorite passages here.
If you have ever heard tell about the secular cynical faithlessness of the west and the salt of the earth closeness to God of those in lesser developed countries you need only to ride in a Russian Lada at twilight going 110 kilometers an hour on crap roads while trying to pass a bus in the face of two sets of oncoming headlights to understand how a basic reliance in higher powers is, in part, instilled.
The dangers of driving in Azerbaijan are many. That’s for sure. I couldn’t enumerate them all here. That would be a dreadfully long post. It’s bad enough that for the most part people don’t learn how to drive here. Instead, they pay a guy who prints and laminates their “driver’s license” and that’s it. Brilliant, huh?
I put it to you that a good driver in Ganca is a sort of artist. They show you the potential for death at every turn, demonstrate to the nervous imagination all conceivable gory sorts of mutilations involving people of all ages, hazards of all kinds, chickens, livestock, sheep, goats, fire, downed powerlines, baby carriages and babooshkas and then prove with consistency that your fellow drivers see you….There is reason to be nervous when driving. But the nervousness that you feel is because in America driving occurs for the most part quite independently of other drivers, while Azeri driving involves the full participation of every human, animal, vegetable or mineral object on the road, in the road, or on the sidewalk.
And at no time has it been more appropriate to recall philosophical principles of Schopenauer’s Foundation of Morality, telling us that:
…the separateness of people is only an affect of the temporal forms of time and space and that the true reality is in a thinly veiled togetherness of living things.