Monday, August 30, 2010

August almost over and I'm traveling

Hot August has finally ended and I'm heading across the Atlantic to visit the family for a few weeks....I'll try to keep everyone up to date on what's happening with me and of course, still in Baku. My Dutch pal, Ton is heading to Astana ...he's crazy...but can't wait to see pictures...Kazakhstan..there's a new university opening there in partnership with a university in London....not me....I've had my share of start-ups in the former USSR.... :0!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two more photos from Sheki

I was fascinated by the fencing made of branch...think of a stone wall but not stone...definitely takes some time to make. Most of the fences were not more than knee high and can just tell...and speaking of work...Azerbaijanis will work hard and work in large numbers to complete a project. There was recent flooding on the main street right next to the inn. The river (sorry don't know the name) came over the banks and tore the asphalt they are putting bricks in as a replacement...

Friday, August 20, 2010

An article in the NY Times caught my eye

Yesterday, I saw an article in the Times that stated that the Obama administration recently tried to reassure Israel that Iran was still nearly a year away from having nuclear capability. The silent collective sigh was audible here...well, great a year away......this development will absolute disrupt the balance of power in this part of the world...also, remember that I mentioned much earlier in my blogging career, that there are 30 million ethnic Azerbaijani's living in northern Iran...which if you look at the map is really southern Azerbaijan....that's over 3 times as many Azeris that live in the actual country of Azerbaijan....there is a definite fear that if something kicks off in Iran...the number of refugees would be like anything the world has seen yet....a year...geez!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Skeletons

Okay, at Kic, the Albanian Temple...they discovered the crypts of folks (some folks) not sure who they were but likely some important folks who were actually buried within the temple's grounds....this is how they are displayed...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Photos from Sheki continue

Sheki is a small town in the northwest section of Azerbaijan...a four hour drive from Baku through some amazing points it looked like the dry brown hills of found at the Arizona Utah border, or even west of SF....but further in the drive, green mountains actually the Caucasas mountains...snow top peaked...then descending into these little valleys...where you can see evidence of the heavy flooding when the mountain snow melts....In the mountains is an Albanian temple...all of these lands share a history and a it gets complicated really the various ethnic groups don't always get along....The Kis Temple built in the 7th century...and completely restored in a joint effort with Norwegian quite lovely..

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The walls inside the Khan's Palace

The Khan like many men of his time had a rooms for different the harem, one to entertain his male friends, and another for guests that he wanted to impress. The room for the women is decorated with flowers, trees, you know the nice stuff, the room for the male friends shows battle scenes including beheadings (which was popular in this time) and finally, the place to entertain guests that highlighted pictures of the coat of arms....I must admit the women's room was pretty boring...the battle scenes...well check them out...oh, right in addition to the heads on the ground...which are being presented as a gift to the Khan....the painting of the troops includes some rather dark faces...interesting given the population of the time 1700's ...might have been from Iran, or Turkey...who can be much darker than the Azerbaijanis

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Khan's Palace finished in 1762

Sheki's foremost "sight" is the palace..the Khan was the main man of the times...the building is not very large, two short stories high and only one room deep. The photo the doorway, you have to take off your shoes in hopes to protect the wood flooring...the stained glass set intricate wood frames is quite stunning...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Making Halva in Sheki

I was given a back room tour of a candy making, not what you might think of halva in the US...this halva is way more sweeter...I'm talking about putting you into diabetic shock and you ain't even diabetic...but it was kinda of cool to watch these guys doing their thing...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Journey to Sheki

Sheki is a town of about 60K persons, northwest of Baku about 4 hours drive....thank goodness the roads have been paved and smoothed. The drive up on the edge and through the Caucasian Mountains, more the that later....was quite spectacular....we arrived in Sheki and stayed at the Karavansaray..which in the middle ages were way places for travelers and their camels or it is unique guest house...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Heading out to the regions tomorrow

I'm joining a couple of colleagues for a weekend trip to a village, is about 4 hours northwest from Baku. It's reported to be a lovely, green town founded in the mid-1700's.
I hope to have some great pictures posted when I return...check back on Monday.

Have a great weekend....oh, did anyone hear Naomi Campbell's testimony at the Hague regarding the gift of diamonds she received. Regardless of her role, if any in the Blood Diamond trade that supported brutal wars in Liberia and Sierre Leone...but she was a reluctant witness clearly stating that she didn't want to be there...for fear of her family and "it's an inconvenience for me"....excuse me...sorta sounded like the BP executive..."I just want to get my life back to normal"....what are these folks smoking!

Oh, one more than..if you followed my post telling you to find the Time magazine cover of young Ashitani (the Afghani woman)...she left for the US today for reconstructive surgery...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What I know for sure...I miss

1. A fluffy towel just out of a dryer.
2. A newspaper in my hand.
3. A cup...a paper cup, a styro-foam cup...just a dang cup in my hand.
4. Half and half for my coffee.
5. A cigarette smoke free environment...even the bus drivers smoke here.
6. Whipped butter.
7. Being able to walk barefoot on grass, heck I'll take just walking on grass with shoes.
8. Getting junk mail.
9. Watching's gone. The channel is now programming from United Arab Emirates.
10. Being oblivious to how crazy the world really is.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hot Tuesday in Baku and why there are no ceiling fans here

I know I may be dwelling on the hot weather here...but it is so oppressive I can see why everyone (who can) leaves in August. Last year I was back in the US for the early part of this month...this trip will have me heading back for a visit at the end of the month. I've developed a fairly good system to cool down the apartment. Keep the windows and curtains all closed and thank goodness, unlike many Bakuvians who normally only have AC in bedroom, there is also one in living room. So it becomes possible for me to cool apartment if I keep the second bedroom door closed (there is no AC in that room).
For quite sometime I've been baffled about the absence of ceiling fans here....well, after a lengthy discussion with my Dutch, soon to be ex-colleague (he's calling it quits here) the MIT trained political economist's the likely reason. Economies/societies such as this one where the timeline for rapid growth has been so condensed will view such nascent technology as seem primitive....go directly to AC once you have fact, you see this mentally in other examples too...elevators or escaltors in buildings with no stairs....
There are also no communal or public laundry went from hand washing to owning a need to have the in between machine, hand wash.....another enlightened day in Baku....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Critters of Baku....and what I know for sure....

Okay, I've read Oprah's mag a couple of times to know that she writes a column...what I know for sure...and I've taken that to mean what life is like in Baku....yes, i know that the tap can turn on, but will water come out, yes, i know the bus that i can take to my new gym is #90 but will the route be the same, yes, you can purchase toilet paper at the market, but don't get used to the brand it may not be there on your next shopping trip...the air of uncertainty is thick...i understand why people don't plan or organize...since you can't...but i have learned that seeking out critters is what helps me stay are two of my new favorite photos...this i know for sure....