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Saturday, January 08, 2005


Ex-pat Baku Returns to Life

Expat Baku is dull as dirt this time of year. Memo to self: In the future, make like a shepherd and get the flock out of Dodge for Christmas and New Years.

To illustrate just how empty the town is, right after Christmas, the Producer finished up work at about 2 am and went out looking for a place to have a drink. Nothing was open! One of the great things about Baku is that there are very few rules that restrict your personal behavior, such as last call. Most expat bars will stay open as long as someone is still drinking. Given the irregular schedules kept by the rig monkeys, most bars stay open all night. The only bars that close at 2 are the ones that have failed to capitalize effectively on the average snaggle-toothed Scotsman's nostalgia for his corner pub, or that refuse to admit Azeri whores.

I often say there are all kinds of bars here, as long as they are English, Scottish or Irish.

Our friends are returning in dribs and drabs. Most went home to the states; some went to warmer climates. A few of us met for Georgian food last night. When you get a group of people together who have spent most of the last few years living in places like Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, dinner conversation rarely revolves around the latest movies, odd family dynamics or trends in American popular culture. Last night, however, returnees who had been home reported on what Tex-Mex made without curry tastes like and whose sister-in-law spent Christmas dinner standing outside in the rain crying.

Most folks even admitted to missing Baku. If not the city itself, they missed the odd rhythm of life here, a supportive web of relationships and the security of a universe where more people are unaware of Jessica Simpson than where to find good Chinese food in Tashkent.

Next week, conversation will return to the latest local trends in kebabs, what American products are currently available in the Yeni Dunya supermarket, who's hooked up with whom and how many days until the next escape.

Hey Matt, quit yer whinin' and get back to work!
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