Some Quick-Hit Observations
Poking around Lənkəran and Bakı for the last few days, I’ve had some observations I’ll share. They aren’t really deserving of full posts, so you get them like this:
Azerbaijani Cake Cutting: Azerbaijanis have a particular cake-cutting method. Square cakes get the same treatment anywhere. But for a round cake, I’m used to lifting out triangle-shaped pieces. Instead, the Azeri fashion is to make a cut in the middle, marking out a large circle in the middle of the cake, and then fanning out from that. So your triangle ends up losing it’s tip to a concave edge. I still haven’t witnessed what they do with the big circle left in the middle.
Peace Corps Staff Holidays: It’s a pretty good deal to work as a Peace Corps staff member in an office abroad. I think this goes for embassy and USAID and other foreign government organizations. Not only do the offices get off for the in-country holidays, such as Eid or Salvation Day in Azerbaijan, but they also take off for the American holidays. This week, my Peace Corps staff had a two-day work week. They didn’t work on Monday, Labor Day in the USA, and they have off both today and Friday for celebrating Eid. That’s brilliant. Sometimes this messes me up a bit, as I forget some of the homeland holidays and try calling my program manager when it’s a holiday (I think I did that this past Memorial Day, in May).
The New Flag: This flag saga has continued without my watchful eye. On Monday, I went to Baku, sans camera, and got to see the giant banner with my own eyes. The thing is huge and cascades over the bay in nationalistic triumph. Apparently they managed to get it back up after their little snafu. (Update: via Nancy, it looks like our good friend Kieth Olbermann gave the flag a shout-out as well!)
Defying Seat Belts: One of the Senior Loan Officers at my bank branch, Nürəlləm, has a Subaru Outback. That’s a nice car. I think it’s probably one of the few Subaru’s in this country. I’m not interested in how he managed to acquire it, thought that’s probably a compelling story in itself. Instead, I’d like to note that whenever we drive to lunch or somewhere, the seatbelt warning beep goes off for a few minutes, as they refuse to put on their seat belts. This is something I really enjoy. It’s probably the only safety precaution that exists in this city for miles and miles around. My first reaction is to put on my seatbelt for my own safety and also to shut up that annoying beep. My fellow passengers and driver smirk, ignoring their seat belts and allowing the beep to go on. The Subaru gives up three minutes later, though I wish it would go on incessantly. This is a serious opportunity for Azeris to embrace safety, improve their lives, and get back those three minutes of their life that was previously occupied by Subaru’s concern for their safety in the form of a screeching beep. But no. Just ignore it. And carelessly think you’re better than everyone else because you don’t put on your seatbelt and you’ve defeated the beep once again.