Monday, May 31, 2010

Trip to Prague

Well, on to Prague, Czech about the trip in the days to come..but for now...leaving Baku on Aeroflot (the Russian national airline)...changing planes (still on Aeroflot) in Moscow (the sign says Moscow International) and Piglet arrive safe in Praha...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Univeristy visitors...UMD and MSU

I don't know who is more surprised me or our visitors. There really aren't many fellow American citizens in Azerbaijan...I think there must be half dozen or so Peace Corp volunteers working in the regions (what they call the country side here)...thank goodes for President Kennedy...but you know there are not many Americans when you get an email from the US Embassy inviting all American citizens to "American Citizen's Day in Baku"...I get invited to official state department events...I can't believe I'll be out of the country when the event occurs in June...bummer. Oh, back to yes, last week two faculty members from Michigan State were at the Academy and today, six undergraduate students from the University of Maryland on a two-week summer abroad program were here...I'm always happy to hear the familiar sound of American-speak....and I think they are surprised to see me here...nonetheless, I would love to have some Milano cookies or Cold Stone Ice Cream...can't wait. I'm thinking I'll enjoy Prague this week.....leave on Thursday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Still looking up in Baku

Couple of things happened this week...
1) Finally, a new US Ambassador to Azerbaijan has been appointed..the position has been vacant since July hopefully, some of the rhetoric about Azerbaijan and US "iced relationship" will melt.
2) I am definitely going to Prague next week for four days.
3) I continue to look up as I walk which means another two things a) I have to assume all the cats that I so lovingly photographed over the last year have's kind of eerie. I know the city does "herding"....and 2) except for a few missteps my path is so familiar I know where the potholes, trash, unleveled sidewalks, I now look up...and here's what I see....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Admitted Students Reception at ADA

Well, once again I hosted a reception for newly admitted students. I've been doing these so long seem like second nature...but still all this is still so new for Azerbaijan. And, I have to remember that...practically everything is the "first time"...though I did host an event last year for the inaugual class. Overall, I think it was good 22 of my 25 Azerbaijan students came as did most of the faculty (3), staff (25 or so) and Rector. The picture is of me doing the welcome and then letter the Rector/Ambassador welcome them too. General crowd shots....they all stand when the Ambassador walked in..I had to ask them to be seated.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sometimes it pays to look up... really high

Normally, I would not suggest that you look up walking the streets of Baku. The pavement, in most places is so uneven or nonexistence you could end of with a severely twisted ankle or worst. One of the reasons I don't venture out at night much since one could easily end tumbling through a broken manhole cover. Nonetheless, my spirit has always encouraged me to look up..hence, some of the pictures I've posted over the last year...but this one captured of the top of a residential building really caught me by surprise. The building is near Fountain Square and the McDonald's area in Baku.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I thought this was cool

As I've blogged about in the past...much of the older construction of residential building was completed during the days when Azerbaijan was a part of the former Soviet Union...I snapped the date etched high up on this building's facade across the street from the gym I go too..

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Urban Renewal...

Well, walking around my 'hood, I am constantly amazed at the amount of renovation, or rather how many blocks are just being leveled. Agreed, many of the dwellings look like they are going to collaspe and need to come down but the general strategy seems to be, level the homes of everyday people and either build highrises or parks...they need more of the latter and less of the former...
Just around the corner from "the apartment" (I'm going back to my detached style of existence here) the blocks at least ten square blocks) are these photos. From what I've been told a promenade with a park. As with all the can not walk or sit on the better not try.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My boss

My boss is Hafiz Pasheyva, he's currently the Deputy Foreign Minister and Rector (their equivalent of President) of the Academy. By training he's a physicist but he was also first Ambassador to the USA. When the country gained its independence from USSR, he was appointed to the post back in 1991. Clinton was president and the Ambassador (he still addressed that way) talks about how arriving in one exactly knew where Azerbaijan was.

He's a very nice man...I like him and he is so well respected in the country. His father was a very famous writer so his family is well educated and very well connected. His niece is the current First Lady. I took this photo of him at an event at ADA last week. He is much darker than the typical Azerbaijan...I politely asked once...and it's not lost on people. I think his family is from southern Azerbaijan which is closer to Iran. Finally, him and I are really the only grey haired people at ADA...

Saturday, May 8, 2010


You know you probably don't give much thought to the roads, (other when there is a nasty pot hole), the sidewalks, the wiring in your home or apartment, how large the mineral (or something) deposits are in the toilet or the tub....just the normal simple things we can all take for granted. I'm thinking about starting another photo journal...on the broken manhole covers....they break, sink, or completely collaspe in the streets here. As a result drivers and pedestrians need to be warned....yesterday, I saw a large piece of aluminum sideing sticking out of the hole...guess that's better than falling in...oh, the photo...that's the electrical box that's in my hallway for the apartments on my floor...ummmm

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tofu and weather

Finally, the weather has improved! But as I've learned this is the City of the roaring sounds that whip around the courtyard around my 15 story apartment building....
As for the "foreigner's market" I found a small box of tofu...I am back to my struggles with what food to eat.....bummer...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Times Square Bomber

Gosh, I can't believe how fast the suspect was apprehended!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hi All...sorry for the diminished posts

I must be going through one of those periods again...always happens about 3-4 weeks after coming back from US...and I think it doesn't help that all of my multi-identities (American, woman, black, partnered, old --well maybe not too old, glasses wearing, grey hair, tall, easterner, home girl, etc., etc)...all of my identities have felt under siege at times here in Azerbaijan. It sometimes it is actually hard to be on the street...I just scream "F*** You, stop staring"...will I be forgiven at the Pearly Gates for such behavior...I hope so.
Plus, though nothing out of the usual has happened, I can definitely feel the restrictions on free speech, right to assemble and personal choice much so that I've become increasingly nervous about photo taking of buildings, etc...perhaps I subconsciously took all those photos of cats for that reason. It's eerie but I'm a strong I'll pull it together! Thanks for letting me vent...