The Pipes are Calling…

If you know anywhere I might be able to obtain some intelligent small insects – redundancies from a closing flea circus perhaps – do please send me the details as soon as you can.  One of my current tasks at work involves hunching over a set of finely detailed diagrams and making numerous tiny amendments using a pen with a nib finer than the last needle to pierce my flesh: I am sure I can train a diminutive arthropod or ten to do a far better and faster job of it.

Joking apart, work is actually going well at the moment.  Our close-knit little team is making quantifiable progress in the face of frequently hefty obstruction and we are aiming to chalk up a couple of major achievements before the end of the year – as long as we get the graft done in time.  Very good news for us all as contractors and for me in particular as the one expat member is to have had our contract extensions for next year confirmed: the company-wide rationalisation process has not come for my head yet…

In between diagrams and databases we still have the weekends and the last one was most festive.  While a number of kitchens around the city will have been filled with the aroma of turkey dinner as Thanksgiving was celebrated, I was invited to a different party on Friday night: the third annual 23:11 Party.

Three years ago, some bright fellow decided to start a network linking Azerbaijani students who are studying or have studied abroad.  The idea appears to have been a success as the several hundred who gathered in the Savannah Club in Baku that night were attending but one of many parties scheduled to take place around the world that night under the aegis of the network.

The Savannah Club was a place I had neither visited nor heard of before and it looked pretty new.  The under-sized lobby and cloakroom leads down into a far more generous dance floor and bar area, beyond which lies a pool hall and bar of extravagant proportions.  Exactly who decided that papering walls with zebra- and giraffe skin-effect patterns would be a great way to link name and space I will never know.  Thankfully the person who spec’d the sound system did a good enough job to keep the ears leading rather than the eyes.

Clearly a success as far as I could see, the party had a good crowd, good music (in Baku terms) and even a quick fire act as a cabaret to give a bit of ‘wow factor’.  Admittedly, having worked on events in the UK with the likes of Lucifire in the past I did find the sight of people twirling fire in seemingly Alpine dress a bit anticlimactic but everybody else loved it.

Costume continued into Saturday under a different guise as the Baku Caledonian Society arranged its annual St. Andrew’s Day Ball.  As with last year’s event the society flew in a pipe band for the weekend and as with last year’s event the government refused permission for the band to march in the city centre.  The compromise on Saturday afternoon was to march round Stonepay: an American-suburbia-in-miniature housing complex just up the hill from central Baku.

Pipe band lead by the chieftain of the Baku Caledonian Society

While many people say they can not stand the sound of bagpipes, I must say that it strikes a chord in me and joining the band on that cold, windswept hillside was a pleasure.  The musicians probably had a great time too as it must have been their cushiest gig of the year: a wee dram, march for two songs, a wee dram, march for two songs, a wee dram, march for three songs, game over (and probably an other wee dram).

They did a grand job, both on the afternoon’s march and at the ball that evening.  Quite how they managed to match the biggest instrument with their smallest member is anyone’s guess but the little lass on bass drum was fine.  As was the shaven-headed man on side drum who had such a look set on his face while playing, it was hard to tell whether he was in rapt in musical concentration or contemplating something far darker.  I am told he cracked a terrific smile in the bar at the end of the night so let’s go for the former option.


“Does my drum look big in this?” …the Pipe Major smiled…

One Reply to “The Pipes are Calling…”

  1. Great to hear your news Al, sounds as if all is going extremely well for you at the moment!

    Don’t know if you check it much but i’m on face book now – just in case you fancy giving me a wave or throw me a turkey or something…;-)

    Kate x

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