Blow wind, crack thy cheeks…

Here as promised are a few pictures (unfortunately slightly poor ones) of the new place.  Come and have a look around…

This is the of view main room once you have walked in a few paces from the front door.  Please forgive the ironing board and vacuum cleaner.  The double doors open onto a wooden veranda looking towards the sea and there are steps down to a back gate.

Here’s a quick look at the kitchen.  No need to go into great detail here.  Everyone in Baku seems to have a giant ‘fridge/freezer regardless of the size of their lodgings and the number of people living within and there are no exceptions.  Quite what I’m supposed to fill that thing with (apart from several gallons of beer perhaps…) is a mystery but it makes for an imposing piece of orange in the room.

Here is the bedroom.  I did not choose the linen.  That green and white painting on the wall is covering a window that looks into a sort of chimney about four foot square and full of rubble.  As very little light makes it down from the top I can see why someone decided to cover the ‘view’ – it is one the most pointless windows I have seen in a long time.  Out of sight to the left is the fireplace.  The stairs lead up to…

…the living room, which has great views over the bay and the roof terrace for later.  The door in the far wall leads through to what will soon be the guest bedroom (only an other week or so to go).  The slightly unusual chair arrangement makes up for the current lack of a coffee table (to be amended).  The tiger covers will also go once the builders have finished.  All visitors welcome!


This Old House… (does not have a Green Door)

Rather belatedly: Happy New Year; and welcome to the Old City.  It has been over a month since I last wrote one of these and two weeks since I got back in the country but there has been so much going on that the passage of time has gone almost unmarked up until now.  Henceforth I will endeavour to re-establish my weekly rhythm.

Why welcome to the Old City?  That will be because I have moved lodgings.  For a variety of reasons I decided at the end of last year that it was time to get out of the previous apartment and in the process I wanted to make a complete change.  No more for me a new-build concrete box with pretensions to ‘western’ fit and finish that is situated in the middle of a multi-acre building site (see “Baku060129.doc” and “Baku060226.doc” for details).  I now happily reside in an admittedly refurbished but nonetheless aged apartment within the walls of the Old City of Baku.  In bed I am no longer serenaded by concrete mixers and cars but by silence and the occasional stray cat.  In the morning I rise just before the muezzin (recorded) calls the faithful to prayer at the nearby mosque and as the days lengthen I will soon be watching the sun rise across Baku Bay.

If this apartment was being pedalled by a London estate agent it would probably be advertised as a ‘character conversion’ property.  It looks like it started life as two rooms at the top of the building.  These two rooms are my downstairs; they have twelve-foot ceilings, old-style double doors and comprise my bedroom and my dining/kitchen area plus an obviously added box-room as bathroom.  There is also an open fire (gas for convenience) in the wall between the two main rooms – very cosy.  An almost spiral staircase in the bedroom leads up via a landing to a recently built living room with picture windows overlooking the city and the sea plus a large roof terrace which will be lovely come the warmer weather.  Just being tacked on to the side of the living room now is the soon-to-be guest bedroom plus en suite bathroom.  Occasionally coming home to find the builders haven’t finished their day’s work yet can be a bit of a bug but they should be finished in three weeks or so and the wait will be worth it.  I will send photographs of the whole lot once the work is over and I have completed the moving-in process.

The day after I landed marked my first anniversary in Baku and the old ‘elastic time’ trick has been working overtime.  In some ways I can’t quite believe I have been here a year already, in others I feel like I have been here forever.  A glaring example of the former is my near-total lack of language skills.  Living where I did up near the Hyatt buildings I could walk into any shop and be met by someone who spoke English in some form or other.  Here on the other side of town; away from an expat hub; I have been searching out new places to buy my supplies and I have rapidly realised that some basic Azeri or Russian is going to make life a whole lot easier because English simply doesn’t work.  Luckily I put the wheels in motion at the office last month to get some language lessons scheduled so it shouldn’t be long now.  I may never ‘fit in’ here but I am at least going to make the effort to try and I intend to enjoy doing so.