Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Reestablishing Patterns; or, Who Wears Short Shorts?

with 2 comments

Without doubt, one of the most uncomfortable parts of moving to a new community, city, country, whatever, is being displaced from your patterns. It could be small things, like making sure you get your coffee in the morning or knowing how you’re going to get a shower. Even when I was living in the US, moving to a new house meant figuring out what my morning pattern was in the new apartment or house.  Here in Azerbaijan, we get derailed from our patterns in a pretty jarring fashion, with different ways to live, different ways to get the things you need, and a language in which to do it that is almost completely backwards from English.  Being thrown out of our patterns very much affects our mental states, so things like culture shock and difficulty understanding your surroundings become even more intimidating.

We then also dedicate a lot of energy to reestablishing patterns, finding ways to get back what we had before or adopting completely new patterns. Today is one of those days where I’ve overcome my lack of a pattern to figure out how to get what I want. And it has to do with wearing short shorts. Specifically, for running. I’ve talked about running here before, and we’ve visited the shorts issue before, too. So, until now, I’ve been relegated to running the streets of Lənkəran with long running tights underneath my shorts, in an effort to be able to say I’m not just wearing scandalous shorts (whether it legitimizes my running or just causes more confusion is up for debate). However, at the urging of a Baku-based ex-pat friend, I’ve taken things a step further, as the oppressive heat has soared to brain-scrambling temperatures. To find a way to wear shorts for my running workouts, I’ve gone to the local sports school, where there is a dirt/grass “track” around the soccer fields. And for the second time in a row, I’ve run my workout with just shorts and a t-shirt. And thank the heavens for that, because with the heat and humidity like it is these days, I would bake if I had any other layers on. No comments from anyone yet about shorts (!), probably because now everyone there is wearing sporty shorts of some sort. I probably can’t take my new-found just-shorts running style to the streets of Lənkəran, but I now have a place to safely achieve a relatively normal running situation, even if i do have to put a pair of pants on again when I walk back to my apartment.

This isn’t such a huge deal, so much as it is an example of how long it can take to overcome the community pressures around you to make a change or try something new. I’m a little slow when it comes to trying things that might offend the neighbors. It’s also one of those things that contributes greatly to mental health, knowing I can work within this new pattern of running in this foreign place. Maybe on my last day in Lənkəran, I’ll scandalize the whole town by running in just shorts through the streets….or…maybe not.


Written by Aaron

July 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. “Shorts? You run, in public in shorts! Scandalous! A man does not have legs, he has trousers… What were you thinking? If I saw you doing such a thing I would shout at you to go home and put on some decent clothes, like a reasonable person. I always knew these Americans were a decadent sort. Phh!”

    Yep, it’s the same but not quite so bad in Baku and I am protected to an extent by being a “grey-beard”. I wore shorts all last summer when I first arrived in Azerbaijan but I didn’t know the protocol at that time, so no doubt offended all sorts of people without knowing I did so. This summer, I am aware and am rather more cautious.


    July 17, 2011 at 5:10 am

    • I had an experience here in Lankaran where a guy told me not to wear shorts because that’s just not what men do here. That was ridiculous. Thankfully, I think I’m protected by the label of “sportsman” when I’m at the sports school here. We’ll see how long it lasts.


      July 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

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