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october | 2011

Bikes & Hikes Chic Lit NY Fashion Week


Editor Steve Hollier Deputy Editor Elizabeth Collins Office & Advertising Manager Kamala Ismayilli Designer Teymur Aliyev


ello again, and many thanks to all of you who returned the Az Mag reader questionnaire. It made very interesting reading and we have acted on many of your suggestions...

Photographer Katya Zhukova

Out goes Men’s Fashion, and the article in Azerbaijani but in comes My Azerbaijan (a monthly photographic competition), Out and About (articles about places to go and things to do across the country) and Energy, with up to date information on Azerbaijan’s major industry. You will see other changes too with more on lifestyle topics like beauty, fashion and health, and to prepare us for the big event of next year, a new monthly column on the song competition you love to hate, Eurovision!

Regular Columnists Aygun Samedova, Ulya Aliyeva, Scary Azeri, Nickee Dixon, Colleen McDonnell, Feride Buyuran, John Patterson, Jamal Shahverdiyev and Uncle Frank

We hope to set your mouth watering thanks to one of our new writers Ferida Buyuram, who has agreed to take time out from her popular blog AZ Cookbook to help us learn more about Azerbaijani cooking and while we are on the topic of food, there will be three restaurant and food reviews a month rather than the previous one.

Contributors Suzanne Schwarz, “Lost Abroad”, Crystal Kelly, ”Secret Sarah”, Amy King, Dustin Windham, Jay, Hiest, Hugh Paxton and Bashir Shaffi

Other changes include a new section called People, with interviews with today’s movers and shakers and profiles of people significant in the history and development of Azerbaijan. Another change is that the old Business section is now called Business & Finance, with a monthly article on hot financial topics by well known ex-pat John Patterson. Jamal Shahverdiyev also starts writing for us on business development issues. Oh, and don’t think we have abandoned your Azeri lessons! Colleen McDonnell is joining us to provide user-friendly lessons on the basics of communication here. There are other changes, but I will leave you to discover them on your own. Finally, this month sees the anniversary of two significant events. It was 20 years ago that Azerbaijan finally became independent and 2 years ago, the first edition of AZ Magazine was published. So, Happy Birthday to Azerbaijan and AZ Magazine! I hope you enjoy the new format. Steve Hollier Editor BTW: The International Women’s Club (IWC) of Baku will be hosting their 17th annual Charity Christmas Bazaar on Sunday 20th November, at the Hyatt Hotel, Kishmish Hall.  The event runs from 11am until 5pm. This month’s cover photo is of a London cab in downtown Baku and was taken by Steve Hollier and edited by “Lost Abroad”.

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magAZine magAZinebaku AZ Magazine Tel.: +994 12 493 4369 The views and opinions expressed by the contributors and advertisers of this magazine may not represent the views of the publishers. AZ Magazine takes no responsibility for claims made by any advertisements in this magazine. Copying or reproducing this magazine is prohibited unless written permission has been given by the publishers. All images and text within this magazine remain the copyright of the photographer, writer or agency.

contents october 2011

My Azerbaijan People 6. Photographic competition Time to get your camera out! 8. My Baku A photographic portrait

Out and About 10. Happy Birthday Azerbaijan! 20 Years and counting

20. Sattar Bahulzade Azerbaijan’s foremost landscape painter 22. Macie Whittington Peace Corp’s new Country Director 24. Saladin An artist woodcarver from Ganja


54. Kishmish Tea club 56. Dragon Restaurant A review of the refurbished venue 60. Ice Lounge So cool but so hot! 62. AZ Cookbook Feride Buyuran shows us how to make stuffed cabbage

Eurovision 2012 International 26. Eurovision 2012 A little bit of history


28. Problem Page Uncle Frank helps out 30. New York Fashion Week An AZ Mag exclusive from our onthe-spot reporter!

64. Scary Azeri Travelling back from Wales by train sounds easy... 66. Bangkok Another Az Mag exclusive with travel writer Hugh Paxton 68. Greece Steve Hollier takes a day off from his holiday in the Peloponnese


72. Learn Azerbaijani! Colleen McDonnell helps you learn your numbers

Books & Movies

74. Chic Lit Elizabeth Collins reviews a few choice examples available in Baku 12. Absheron National Park Wild natural coastline close to Baku 14. Bikes & Hikes Trekking and biking beyond Lehic 16. GLOW Empowering Azerbaijan’s young women 18. Historic Gabala A review of the town and family resort

34. Women’s Fashion Leather: Woman on a motorcycle or catwalk chic? 36. TISA Fashion show The fashion designers of tomorrow strut their stuff 40. Beauty Buzz When creams are not enough... 42. WET Newsletter Water quality information 44. Having a baby in Baku Elizabeth Collins’ personal experience!



76. Girls Soccer preparing for the under 14’s World Football Championships 78. World Boxing Championships The results of the finals 80. Pool An introduction to the Baku pool league


82. British Business Group 15th Anniversary dinner

46. British Minister of Energy & Climate Change Hon Charles Hendry speaks 48. Azerbaijan oil and gas news New developments in the region


50. What to do with your money? Is the sock drawer is the best answer 52. What is coaching? A critical tool for personal and organisational development

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Calling all Photographers!

The AZ Mag Rolling Photo Competition It doesn’t seem to matter where you go in Azerbaijan these days; if you come across a group of ex-pats, at least one of them is likely to be toting a high-end digital camera. You might be walking in the Talysh mountains or relaxing at a resort in Gabala, walking on a deserted beach or just strolling down the bulvar; there is nearly always someone pointing a Canon or a Nikon, snapping away. But do tell me, what happens to all those amazing images guys? Of course, you share them with your friends and family or perhaps put a selection of them on facebook or Picasa but how about the rest of us? May we sneak a look? To encourage you to do just that, we are launching the AZ Mag Rolling Photo Competition. Every month we will devote up to four pages of the best images you send in, and to encourage you to participate, prizes will be awarded! There will be three categories. - Under 16’s - Adult (non-professionals) - Open (professionals and others may contribute) A bottle of whiskey, a box of Belgium chocolates or 50AZN will be awarded in prizes each month. At the end of the year, we will invite AZ Mag readers to vote for their favourite image and a calendar of the best of these will be produced and sold in aid of a local charity. What are you waiting for? If you would like to participate, send your images (only large file sizes please) by the first of the month to: Happy snapping!

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The British Business Group In Association with The British Embassy Present the

Poppy Ball Friday 4th November 2011 The Guba Ballroom, Hyatt Regency 7.15 for 7.45pm Carriages at Midnight For tickets contact: Morgan Phillips: 050 215 0685 John Patterson: 050 213 2267 Steve Hollier: 077 3000 131

Live music from The Goodfellas featuring John Hyde on guitar

120AZN per person or 1,100AZN for a table of ten Dress code formal: ball gowns, dinner jackets, lounge suits, uniforms with medals

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My Baku: Photographic essay about the city “Lost Abroad� is the name adopted by a Baku ex-patriot resident, who publishes a daily diary of photos. She publishes these images on the website. We are delighted to reproduce a dozen of her best images.

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In addition to our new, monthly photographic competition, we will from time-to-time feature the work of both Azerbaijani and ex-patriot photographers working in the country.


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by Steve Hollier


Happy 20th Birthday Azerbaijan! by Steve Hollier

On the 18th October 1991, two significant events took place; one was the start of Operation Julin in the United States and the other was the foundation of the modern state of Azerbaijan.

The End of the Cold War

Operation Julin was the name given to the final series of nuclear tests conducted by the United States. On that date, a bomb codenamed Lubbock was detonated at the Nevada nuclear test site to “ensure the safety of U.S. deterrent forces”. President George Bush Sr. later declared a testing moratorium on October 1st 1992 that has continued to this day. This was the last gasp of Cold War sabre rattling, and it is significant that the beginning of the end took place at the same moment the Republic of Azerbaijan was declared. Michail Gorborchev could see that the writing was on the wall for the USSR when he took over the reins of power in 1985. On the 11th March that year, he was elected General Secretary by the Politburo. Significantly, Gorborchev was the first leader of the Soviet Union born after the revolution of 1917, leading him to have a very different perspective on the nature, scope and potential of his society.

Although implemented for the best of reasons, Gorborchev’s policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reconstruction) led to the accelerated dissolution of the Soviet Union and the opening up of old wounds, effectively suppressed by the heavy hand of communism for more than two generations.

The Origins of Modern Azerbaijan Civil unrest and intercultural tensions were apparent in many regions across the Soviet Union including the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. These tensions finally led Gorborchev to undertake military deployments in an attempt to quell what he saw as the unjustified behaviour of the Azeri people. This culminated in Soviet soldiers firing on Azeri civilians in 1990. A running battle took place in Baku between local people and armed soldiers over several days, leading to the deaths of more than one-hundred men, women and

children. These events are now known as Black January and helped reinforce calls for independence and secession. Later that year, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan SSR dropped the words “Soviet Socialist” from the title, adopted the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Azerbaijan Republic and restored the flag of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic to national use. On 18 October 1991, the Supreme Council of Azerbaijan adopted a Declaration of Independence that was affirmed by a nationwide referendum in December that year, when the Soviet Union was officially dissolved. (For more information on these events see: http:// Soviet_Socialist_Republic).

The Soviet Inheritance Upon independence, the newly created state was faced with many problems inherited from the defunct Soviet Union. These included a sharp decline in the levels of economic production, hyperinflation, growing levels of unemployment and an ongoing conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh that ultimately grew into a war between the two new states. Between 1992 and 1993 Azerbaijan had three governments with opposing views on the direction in which the country should develop and a serious land war. To confirm with Unsurprisingly this had dire consequences on the stability of the infant democracy. At this point, former chairman of the Azerbaijan KGB, Polit Bureau member and leader of Soviet Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev returned to power as President of the democratic republic. In May 1994, a ceasefire was brokered by

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OUT & ABOUT Russia that is still in force today and the huge task of economic and social reconstruction could finally begin.

Oil is the Answer

From the first days of independence, it was understood by the Azeri leadership that the way to address the underlying social and economic problems besieging Azerbaijan had to be through the effective exploitation of the oilfields. The problem was that with a minimum of investment from the Soviet Union after the development of “Oily Rocks” in the 1950’s, these were in a run-down state and production levels were falling year-on-year. Furthermore, Russia still considered Azerbaijan within its “sphere of influence” and was against the involvement of any Western companies in the future development of its oil and gas fields. After a complex series of negotiations, the Azeri, Chirag and deep-water Gunashli (ACG)-International Contract No. 1 was signed by President Heydar Aliyev and a number of international companies on the 20th September 1994. Because of its potential reserves then estimated at 6 billion barrels (950,000,000 m3) of oil, this project has become known as the “Contract of the Century”. Since that time there have been numerous new discoveries including the Shah Deniz field in 1999. This is recognised as being one of the largest gas field finds in recent decades and has transformed Azerbaijan into a major producer. More recently on 9th September 2011, a French energy company announced another major gas discovery in the Absheron field 100 kilometres offshore from Baku. According to Wikipedia, the field is estimated to

contain around 300 billion cubic metres of gas, boosting Azerbaijan’s gas reserves from 2.2 to 2.5 trillion cm. After 1995, Azerbaijan has been marked by a booming oil-based economy with growth rates well above the world average. industry_in_Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan, its Mountains, Forests and People

In the final analysis, Azerbaijan is defined neither by its politicians nor its oil industry, but by its land and people. It is a country of astonishing diversity with snow-capped mountains, temperate forests, both natural and manmade lakes. It contains nine of the world’s eleven climatic zones making it one of the most environmentally diverse countries in the world. You can still find Caucasian leopards prowling pastures on

The new Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre takes shape in Baku

the tree-line, Caucasian antelope in the Shirvan National Park, wolves and bears in the upper ranges of the forests and both eagles and hawks patrolling the coastal fringes and mountains. Mugham, the national musical form is strong across the country. Any night of the week you can feast on orchestral music, opera, or ballet; attend exhibitions of the visual arts in Baku or just sit on the bulvar drinking tea as the sun sinks slowly behind you. You can be astonished by vigorous Leski dancing in the North of the country or can purchase colourful Talysh socks in Southern mountain villages. Wherever you travel in Azerbaijan you can find colour, warmth and friendliness. Clearly, there is still much that remains to be done but on the eve of a significant anniversary it is time to celebrate and raise a glass to Azerbaijan, land of fire!

The first snow of Winter on Baba Dag

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by Steve Hollier

Azerbaijan: The Road Less Travelled

Absheron National Park

“So, you want to go and look at dead seals?” said my friend Greg, when I mentioned that I was thinking of visiting the Absheron National Park, the beak of land that juts out into the Caspian at the far end of the peninsular on which Baku is situated. “Obviously no, I just thought it might make a nice day trip” I responded. Checking out Mark Elliot’s guide book to Azerbaijan, I found the park damned with faint praise. “The site is a narrow strip of coastal sand dunes that might appeal to ornithologists but whose visual impact is very limited and not much different to similar dunes you’ll see en route to the entrance gate” (p146). The reference to the nearby village of Zira that once was home to a snake farm, until they all escaped into the surrounding area did not increase its appeal either. Anyway, my partner Sandra and I were not to be put off by this daunting information and headed off one sunny Saturday afternoon. We set off with open minds, hope in our hearts and sandals on our feet – we’ve

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encountered worse than a few snakes! The predecessor to the Absheron National Park was called the Absheron State Nature Preserve. It was founded in 1969 during to Soviet era to protect the herds of gazelle that grazed the salty pasture, the increasingly rare Caspian seals and a plethora of wildlife including, waders and birds of prey. It was reopened under new management on 8th February 2005. It covers on a area of 783 hectares (7.83 km2) in the administrative territory of the Azizbeyov district of Baku and it is still developing as a visitor site. There are no signs or direction posts until you get within a few kilometres of the park, so you have to some extent follow your nose. When we eventually did arrive at the entrance, the gatekeeper was very surprised to see us, and our driver Murad reported to us that there was a “big problem”. If we were “diplomatic”, we would be refused

entry for some strange reason. Odd, very odd we thought. “No, no” we explained. “Tourist, tourist!” All was well and having parted with 4AZN each (plus 2AZN for the driver and another 4AZN for the vehicle), we were allowed access along a crumbling road that soon turned into a gravel track and ended at a building site. When I later asked Murad who had been chatting with a group of builders what this single story construction building was going to be, it transpired that it will become an interpretation center for the park. A good thing in my opinion as currently if you want a guide, you have to book in advance through the ministry of ecology. The only interpretive material available on site is a board at the entrance with a list of species you might run into. Actually, the board is really impressive, if it is to be believed. Here it suggests, you might come across jackals, foxes, native tortoises and hares however of the Caspian antelope, there is no mention... If it is those you seek, I suggest you visit the Shirvan

OUT & ABOUT alone. There were no seals to be seen at that time of year - mid September. According to the Wikipedia article on the subject Caspian_Seal , in winter and cooler parts of the spring and autumn season, the seals are to be found in the Northern Caspian. As the ice melts in the warmer season, they move southwards to the mouths of the Volga and Urasl Rivers, and down to Azerbaijan and the Absheron National Park where cooler waters can be found due to greater depth.

National Park some two-hours South of Baku. We abandoned the car at the interpretation center and set off on foot. Stretched out in front of us was a vista of low dunes covered in attractive reeds and grasses that swayed gently in the cooling breeze. You will be amazed how clean the water is and how pristine the environment, that is once you get beyond the building site and the remains of a Soviet era electricity sub-station where rusting steel foundations remain anchored to concrete blocks, surrounded by piles of rotting batteries. But don’t be disheartened, the site is beautiful and very much alive with wildlife! Hawks and eagles hover overhead looking for mice and shrews that burrow into the sand, snowy egrets fly by in small groups and numerous herons lazily take to the skies as you approach. Large groups of waders watch you warily from sandbanks just offshore and take off in a flurry of wings.

As we walked along the sand, we noticed some dog-like tracks. They could have been dog prints, but there were no human footprints beside them and my instinct told me they were jackal tracks. Certainly the claws were long and sharp, something you don’t tend to find with domestic dogs whose claws get blunted by exercise on the hard surfaces you find in towns. The fact that there was not a single plastic bottle on the beach was due I am certain to the effects of long-shore-drift, a natural process whereby sand and other materials are washed in a single direction down a coastline. As we were at the very top of the Absheron peninsula well above Baku, all the plastic bottles that are familiar of coastal environments further South were nowhere to be found. After a long walk beside the sea, we turned and saw the rippling silhouette of Baku, on the horizon some 30 kilometres away. If you are looking for some relief from the urban environment of Baku; for a walk on a pristine beach, surrounded by the lapping of crystal clear water an the sound of seabirds calling and wheeling above you,

I recommend a day trip to the Absheron National Park. To find the park, drive beyond the international airport, turn right and go to Qala. Head onward through the town and several kilometres beyond, turn right again and proceed through the village of Zira. When you hit the coast road, bear left for a few more kilometres and you will find the park entrance. It is an area of Baku that simply shouldn’t be ignored! For further information, here is a link to the Ministry of Ecology webpage: http://www.

At the beginning of our walk we looked into the still waters just beside the interpretation centre and were rewarded with the sight of a water snake writhing in a mass of coils close to the shore. It looked like it had caught a fish and was busily subduing it. (Take a look at the accompanying image if you don’t believe me!) Walking up the pristine beach on this sunny Saturday afternoon, we were completely october 2011 | mag

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OUT & ABOUT by Susanne Schwarz

Bikes and Hikes Around Lahıc Autumn is the high season for hiking and biking. Susanne Schwarz checks out the options around the village famous for its traditional coppersmithing. When I said I wanted to go mountain biking in Lahıc (Lahij), people told me I was crazy. Lahıc has the highest density of summer pastures in Azerbaijan. More than sixty herds of sheep are guarded by ferocious shepherd dogs. But despite this on all my

Beautiful Autumn colours

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previous visits I got the impression that Lahıc offers more hiking and biking options than all the guide books promise. I thought September would be a good time to check this out as the days are still warm, but the sun is no longer scorching. Also, September is the month when the shepherds leave their summer camps. When I started my trip, the weather was not as promising as the forecast, but even heavy rainfall could not stop my enthusiasm. When I turned at the junction into the valley up to Lahıc, I met my

first herd of sheep; they were bedraggled creatures but accompanied by huge, healthy looking dogs.

The “Bridge to Nowhere”

I began my first short hike in heavy rainfall, following the dirt road that passes the Evim Otel, straight uphill. The road soon became a trail and at one point I had to stop, as the fog got so dense and nothing was visible to help orientation. The next morning I was not only greeted by the sun, but also by twenty-three Griffon

A rugged track and the mountains above Lehij


Where there’s sheep, there will be shephard dogs!

vultures circling so low that I do not even need my binoculars to identify them. I got my mountain bike ready for action. At the border between old and new Lahıc stands the ‘bridge to nowhere’, noted in the guidebooks as ‘crossing the Girdiman River’. At least, I thought a road can be seen winding up the mountain. So, I checked it out… The very steep road leads to a pass from where the view opens into another river valley with several small settlements. The trails then lead to the right, along the pass that was blocked by sheep (...or to be honest, by my fear of the dogs that might have been guarding them). So I took the road downhill, as steep as the one I had come up. Several dirt roads were available to me but dark clouds coming over the mountain tops unfortunately stopped me from being more explorative. I decided to head for the river and hoped for a trail leading towards the Lahıc valley. I soon realized this hope was in vain, and I left the riverbank for a cattle trail leading uphill... again. That required a good push on my part but nevertheless, the trail was exciting as the hill offered different types of vegetation, and a species of butterfly accompanied me that I hadn’t seen before. I passed a remote house up in the hills and reached an unexpected pond. Passing some graves, I found myself back on the top, right above a landslide; the next cracks already visible. There was an old dirt road leading along the ridge that I followed towards a transmission tower. If anybody is ready for steep climbs, this is your trip but my advice is to take it the other way around! When you first come to the pass, turn left towards the transmission tower, keep right on the meadow to find the

If it’s steep going up, it’s steep coming down!

trail and have fun on the single trail down.

An Amazing River Gorge My next biking trip brought me to Burovdal. While a sign in Lahıc tells you the general direction, there were no signs at the junctions where I needed them; I just followed my instinct. An unexpected loop to the right brought me through another river gorge which was just amazing, lined with sea buckthorn and rosehips. So far, the road was more or less flat with just a few short climbs. Now the first more serious climb lay in front of me; I came back to the Girdiman river valley and could see a village that was not even on my map. From above, the gardens gave me the impression of a small park. I continued towards Zarat as here, I would have to cross through the river. It looked rough and deep. I was not keen on getting into the cold water, as I already felt a sore throat coming on. So I rode up the meadow (which would make a great camping site) enjoying the view and the return to Lahıc. My host later told me, there is an alternative road via Hǝftǝsov. But even along the short part of the road I could see from Lahıc, I counted five shepherd camps... With some bread and cheese that turned out to have the taste of banana yoghurt, I spent the early evening hours high up on a meadow. The golden light of the early autumn sun lay like a blanket over the valley. Cows walked their way home to the stable, and horses and donkeys were calling to each other. The local sheep passed by looking healthy and strong and a bright spot landed on a tree, it was a Lilac Breasted Roller; a beautiful bee-eater, which can be found both in Europe and Africa.

Hiking to a Peak

The next day I put on my hiking boots again. Wasn’t there still a small peak calling for me? After about two and a half kilometers from Evim Otel, the trail divides. The trail to the right leads through a low forest and then on to a mountain ridge. From there on, the trail followed the ridge, but you would have to be an experienced mountaineer to continue. If you are hiking with kids, you should definitely secure them with a rope and you also have to share this place with a pair of local ravens. This time, I decide on the path to the left. After another kilometer, the forest opened up. I crossed the meadow straight uphill towards a bald rock hanging over me and continued the trail towards the little twin peak with their big brother behind then and walked straight into a shepherd’s camp! Fortunately, the wind was on my side and the dogs don’t get my scent. To be sure, I went lower down behind the hills but the trail towards my target was blocked. It was a good choice however as, the little peaks offer spectacular views.

“It is Always Worth Coming Back”

The air was filled with the “glück-glück”, calls of bee-eaters and I filled my stomach with blackberries that were growing all around me. I was leaving, knowing I was still far from exploring all the hiking and biking possibilities around but, with the friendly people of Lahic, the options of accommodation from camping, a simple home stay or a comfortable hotel, all offering fair prices, it is certainly worth coming back.

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GLOW Camp:

by Crystal Kelley Peace Corps volunteer

Finding the Light Within included: segregate gender roles, a lack of female representation in politics and public positions, underdeveloped leadership skills and a lack of initiative to make positive decisions which impacted their country and their lives.

AuThe sound of laughter and animated conversation echoes from beneath a blue tarp on the shores of Nokhur Lake. Behind the make-shift wall can be found 40 girls and their teachers for the week. Sabina, a GLOW Camp Counselor, is facilitating a discussion on “What is community?” The girls hang on every word and eager hands are raised after being asked “What does community mean to you?” It is day five of GLOW camp and students are to learning how to plan a development project in their community (and loving it). Girls Leading Our World camp, or GLOW, is a camp for girls ages 14-16 and in forms 9 and 10. It was created by Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Romania in 1995. The Volunteers sought to encourage young women to become active citizens through the building of their self-esteem, 16 | mag

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confidence and self-awareness. They further sought to develop their skills in goal-setting, assertiveness and career and life planning. The idea for GLOW was created through the identification of community needs and trends observed by the original organizers. These needs and trends

In 2003, GLOW camp had its first group of girls in Azerbaijan. The camp was initially presented in English, with the intent for the camp to be both an opportunity for English learning, as well as a place to learn about leadership. However, in facilitating camp sessions in English, the students who qualified to attend were drastically reduced. In 2009, the camp changed to one which was led in Azerbaijani instead of English. This allowed for higher attendance rates from girls in various regions and villages, making the group of girls much more diverse. This year’s GLOW camp was facilitated by Azerbaijani women with the assistance of current Peace Corps Volunteers. Women from a variety of backgrounds and education levels applied for leadership positions as camp counselors. Of the 33 applicants, 16 were selected to attend


two day training at the Kür Hotel in Mingachevir. During training attendees learned how to hold a camp in their own communities, how to budget for a project and how to facilitate a session. They also learned about GLOW camp and the GLOW curriculum. From the 16 women in attendance, 10 were selected to be GLOW camp counselors for a week.

five days at camp in Qabala. For many of the girls, it was the first time they had ever been away from their family or traveled to a region other than their own. The five days were filled with sessions on topics discussing: leadership, courage, gender roles, health, setting personal goals, effective communication and setting goals for their own communities.

Sabina Abdullayeva writes about her experience as a camp counselor, “GLOW helped me realize (once again) that our girls are very creative, talented and amazing leaders who are full of energy. As a counselor, it is a great feeling to see how I can make a difference in some girls’ lives just by sharing my own story. We, the Azerbaijani counselors, were their age not so long ago and we faced almost the exact same challenges they are facing now. I am convinced GLOW changes the lives of these girls during their 5 days at camp. I think I could see myself in many of the girls. I can honestly say being a counselor gave me a very good spirit for the rest of the year. It reminded me to believe in myself. It made me remember that I am a useful citizen of my country and that I am capable of making a change.”

Feride Abbasova, a GLOW camper, writes, “During our lessons we discussed steps for being a leader and identified some of the characteristics that belong to future leaders. Little by little I began to think to myself ‘Why can’t I be a leader in the future? Maybe I don’t have many of these characteristics yet, but I’m only 16. I can get more education.’ I thought about the differences between leaders and other people. Maybe the only difference is the way leaders think, perhaps they think more carefully and value the suggestions of other people they meet. So maybe I won’t be the president of my country, but I can be a real leader in my future job!”

In July, 40 female students from regions throughout Azerbaijan made a bus trip, with either a Peace Corps Volunteer or Azerbaijani Camp Counselor, to spend

Matthew Bryza, the American Ambassador to Azerbaijan, came and spoke to the girls. He discussed his thoughts on the Azerbaijani school system, creating international friendships and women’s rights. Samira Qasimova writes “When I met Ambassador Bryza, it was then I decided I wanted to be an ambassador.

GLOW let me discover things about myself that I never knew.” GLOW camp also gives girls an opportunity to learn new games and to participate in fun activities. It introduces a way of learning which is much different than their school lessons. Girls learned about yoga, methods of self-defense and how to play ultimate frisbee. They competed in 3-legged races and had water balloons fights. They used their creativity to make picture-frames, friendship bracelets and t-shirts. While their days were spent engaging in sessions and activities, their evenings were spent “bunking” with the other girls. Students stayed the night in their own cabins (with counselors and Peace Corps Volunteers just a few steps away) and could frequently be heard giggling long after “lights out.” The lessons GLOW provides aren’t just for the duration of camp, they are lessons which last a lifetime. GLOW camp is a life changing experience for many girls. It is an opportunity for teenage girls to learn the numerous ways they, and women everywhere, influence the world. For more information about GLOW in Azerbaijan, or to learn ways your business can help support GLOW, e-mail

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by Elizabeth Collins

Historic Gabala and the Caucus Riverside Resort Beautiful scenery, a relaxed environment, and fabulous activities for all the family can be found just 3 hours drive from Baku. Gabala is an area north of Baku and sits at the base of the Caucaus mountains which are carpeted in their entirety with walnut trees, offering any outdoor lover the chance to explore the never ending wilderness.

Caucus Riverside Resort

Gabala: An Ancient City known to Pliny the Elder As the oldest city in Azerbaijan, Gabala is abundant with history and the local museum offers a great selection of archeological finds. The 2000 year old city is mentioned in the works of antique historian Pliny the Elder in his Natural History and was known to be the capital city of ancient Caucasian Albania (not the same country known in today’s europe) for 600 years, a truly wonderful location to pay a visit. Gabala was a city of great importance and much was discovered during an archeological dig in 1959 by S.M. Gaziyev, an Azerbaijani archeologist. Although the ruins of the ancient city are still clear to see, Gaziyev’s findings revealed so much more. He found that one section of the city had been dedicated to the work of craftsmen as remnants of pottery, water pipes and precious metals testify. Most interestingly, items with seals emanating 18 | mag

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from Syria, India, Greece, Egypt and Rome have been found, showing that at one point Gabala was a centre for international trade. It can also be credited for it’s religious freedom and multicultural society. Gaziyev uncovered a religious pir or holy place that evidenced people from many religions had worshipped there. The graves that are still evident in the local vacinity show people had worshipped Islam, christianity, paganism and Zoroastrianism. Fire worship is thought to have been the most popular religion in Azerbaijan during the first settlements in the country; with the literal translation of Azerbaijan being ‘land of fire’. If history and exploration is of interest to you, most of his findings are available for all to see in ‘modern’ Gabala’s museum.

Locals could not do more to ensure the pleasure of your stay Azerbaijan is often referred to as a country of contrasts and arrival in the Gabala

region definitely enforces this notion. Although Baku can be credited with its astonishing futuristic architecture and wealth of historical museums, it offers little opportunity in the way of outdoor freedom. Gabala on the other hand offers parks (green ones), hiking, mountaineering and the locals could not do more to ensure the pleasure of your stay in their region. In the town itself English is spoken by only a few, so much gesticulation and talking


View towards the mountains

A holiday Cottage at the Gabala Riverside Resort

loudly is required but in any of the resorts English is spoken fluently and they are run to European standards.

Caucus Riverside Resort Modern Gabala can boast a wealth of excellent hotels and resorts. The Caucus Riverside Resort which sits splendidly on the bank of the Damiraparan river is ideal for a weekend getaway or a week long break to provide maximum time for exploration of the area. The resort offers a 5* hotel, superb for couples, as well as the option of staying in self catering cottages which offer all the freedom required when travelling with a couple of kids in tow. The hotel has a number of fine dining options (but make sure you like lamb), a fabulous buffet breakfast and 24 hour room service (to the cottages as well as the hotel so don’t be alarmed when your dinner arrives on a golf buggy)!! Walks through the surrounding woodland, swimming in the pool or having a hearty workout in the fitness suite, gives you the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy time away from the city. Within walking distance from the hotel is Gabaland, a theme park of reasonable size that can be enjoyed or completely ignored! It offers activities for toddlers

with soft play areas as well as tempting any adrenalin junkie with it’s water slides and rollercoasters. It is clean, well maintained and the staff are genuinely happy to help. Although theme parks are not everyone’s idea of a relaxing weekend away, as a family day out it guarantees to satisfy... For anyone who doesn’t fancy driving 3 hours just to get plunged into a freezing cold pool of water from a great height or doesn’t feel the need to be suspended in mid air from a rope wire then the options are endless and the theme park will in no way impose on your stay. Just a short walk away from the town you feel engrossed in nature, the 500 year old chesnut groves and with natural mineral water flowing really sparks a feeling of serenity. Cow’s graze in the empty, summer river beds and horses run wild through the fields and the orchards. An ideal opportunity to relax. After spending a few days in Gabala you will be assurred that there is much more to the city than just it’s football team. For more information at staying at the Caucus Riverside resort, check out:

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by Aygun Samadova It’s his way of painting that makes him so special. Just one glance at his pictures is enough to take you on an enigmatic, yet pleasant journey through colours. You can look at them over, and over and keep finding something new.

Noticed by Marc Chagall

Sattar Bahlulzade: Azerbaijan’s Charming and Mysterious Master Painter

Charming and the most mysterious I was introduced to Sattar’s brilliant compositions in the late 1990s by my sister who took me to a museum before I knew much about his art. The other day, I was looking at his work on a website dedicated to him, and was once again simply fascinated by them and decided to write my next article about him. You will 20 | mag

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ask why? I consider Sattar Bahlulzade to be one the most charming and mysterious of all the great 20th century landscape painters of Azerbaijan. His artistic creativity holds an astounding and exceptional place in Azerbaijani history. The fascinating thing about Sattar, is that he turned away from the traditional style of painting inside a studio and found his own personal style.

Born in 1909, in Amirjan village outside of Baku, he received his professional education at the National Art Institute. Among his art teachers was a well-known Azerbaijani artist Azim Azimzade, who recognized his talent and recommended him to work at the newspaper where he himself was employed as an art director. Sattar started his professional life producing caricatures that touched mainly on aspects of domestic life. Experienced colourist Marc Chagall was Sattar’s teacher, and had already noticed in his sketches the future landscape painter with a developed sense of colour.

Singer of his country’s nature His magic talent to turn paint into the living world is astonishing. Sattar was dubbed as “the singer of his country’s nature”. You will not be surprised if you read the art critics’ explanation: it was simply because he drew mountains and forests, rivers and fields, ancient architectural monuments and sculptures, Caspian Sea, coastal villages, the regions of Azerbaijan with love and in quite a different way. He changed the way the audience viewed landscape painting. He was fascinated and unusually stimulated with colour, and this effect of colour became a major influence on his art. Sattar traveled extensively to all parts of Azerbaijan on foot and painted landscapes throughout his life. Being in love with light and the natural world, he found a way to bring them into his paintings regularly. When you look at his paintings, it seems as if his landscapes are not real, but always imaginary. They possess “fairy-tale qualities” and had a great influence on the painters of the next generation. Sattar drew from nature enthusiastically and every picture of his tells us a story.

Enigmatic and Mysterious He painted with oil, ink and pencil. Sattar’s landscape paintings have enigmatic and mysterious expressions. He enjoyed painting in the environs of Azerbaijan. His paintings “Flourishing field”, “Bazarduzu”, “Old Shamakhi”, “Outside

PEOPLE that painting is peculiarly suited for rendering the appearances of things with a glow of light and richness of colour. And in doing so, he pointed the way for the artists who followed. Sattar brought the truth of nature and the truth of the heart closer together than any other painter before him. His still life paintings are also notable for their peculiar originality.

Wonderful rhythm

the village of Laza”, “Rowanberry”, “Still life with Saffron” combine his perfect painting technique along with fantastic imaginations. The mountain Shahdag is present in all his works belonging to Guba series. Sometimes when you first look at his paintings everything seems still. They have calm and gleaming feel about them. After a while you become aware of their vivacity and realize that you are looking at something in movement.

A glow of light and richness of colour During his youth, Sattar loved painting flowers – roses, tulips, narcissus, chrysanthemum; later fruits began to appear in his works. His famous still life paintings include “Ash Berry”, “Tangerines of Astara”, “Fruits”, “Oranges and Pomegranates”. Industrial landscapes also occupy a special period in Sattar Bahlulzade’s creativity. They include “Oil Rocks”, “Evening in Caspian Sea”, “Caspian Beauty” and hundreds of other sketches and pictures. Sattar demonstrated

Outside the village of Laza

His still life paintings make you feel various sensations, such as a joyous spirit and creative energy. When I saw his painting “Still life with Saffron” for the first time I just instantly fell in love with it and was immediately blown away. The painting has wonderful rhythm and an interesting composition – saffron with an incredibly beautiful flowery and colourful background. I find the overall composition to be one of the most fascinating works by him. This is a painting I always think of when I consider the greatness of Sattar. When you look deeper into the painting, it becomes extremely beautiful.

The most extraordinary brain in the history of painting Sattar kept diaries for many years. In thick albums and sketch-books he made notes about his impressions of his meetings and talks. The notes he made are in the Azerbaijani language, using the old Arabic alphabet. Some of these sketch-books have yet to be decoded. His works have been exhibited in many cities all over the world including Cairo and Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad, Paris and Napoli, Vienna and Berlin, Montreal and Havana and many other cities. His contemporaries

Painting by Sattar Bazarduzade


called him the most extraordinary brain in the history of painting. Unfortunately, Sattar passed away in 1974 due to blood poisoning. He is buried in his native village where he was born and lived all his life. His portraits were drawn by some other famous Azerbaijani artists such as Gafar Seyfullayev and Tagi Tagiyev. A monument to him was created by Fuad Abdurrahmanov and now it is kept at the Fund of Art Museum.

Honored Artist and People’s Artist of Azerbaijan Sattar Bahlulzade was been awarded with many prizes for his works. He received the title of Honoured Artist and People’s Artist of Azerbaijan. A memorial museum was established in his native village of Amirjan. His artistic legacy includes landscape paintings, hundreds of still life pictures and sketches. Almost all of his painting contains extremely deep content which goes beyond the simple meaning. Some of them have fragile beauty and I believe it is worth seeing them all. You will be very impressed with their vibrant and breathtaking colours. His paintings are very beautiful to look at and you can feel the uniqueness. These paintings can also result in being a key to understand the enigmatic and fantastic. For all the readers who don’t have time to visit art museums, but would like to learn more about his art of painting, I can think of no better online exhibit than those at: Images credited to

Still life with Saffron

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Chisinau” she continued. There are though obvious difference, in terms of the thrust and makeup of the economy. Nearly 400 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Azerbaijan since the programme was established in 2003, with over one-hundred currently in the country. They serve one of three programmes, English language teaching, youth and community development work and business development. When I asked Macie what her motivation was for joining Peace Corps, she said it was a desire for adventure (she and her husband took a gap-year in 2003-4 to backpack around the world), and to “give something back”. As the country director, her role is to lead from the front and when I asked her what direction that was likely to take her, she responded by saying that to an extent the organisation has operated in much the same way as when established in 1961. Since that time, volunteer’s motivations may have remained the same but technology for example has moved on.

A profile of country director

Peace Corps Azerbaijan Macie greeted me on the stairs of the American Peace Corps building near the Heydar Aliyev concert and sports complex in Baku, with a cheery “Hi Steve” then ushered me inside her office. She is a former management consultant with nearly thirty years experience in the IT industry, specialising in operations management and customer support and as such, perhaps an unlikely head of service. Macie however, is also a former Peace Corps volunteer who served with her husband Craig in Moldova for two years, completing her service in 2010. For those of you who have not come across Peace Corps before, the organisation traces its origins back to a speech given by then Senator John F. Kennedy to students at the University of Michigan. He challenged them to serve their country in the cause of 22 | mag

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peace, by working and living in developing countries. From that inspiration grew an agency of the US federal government, devoted to world peace and friendship. Since that time, more than 200,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 countries, working on issues ranging from health and education to business development and environmental protection. “Peace Corps is transformative” she told me, “it changed me so much”. Having been in post for just two months, she is starting to get a feel of the country. “In many ways, Azerbaijan reminds me of Moldova”. Although the ethnic and religious makeup of the two countries could not be more different, both are former Soviet states with developing economies. “Particularly when I shop in the markets, I am reminded of the capital,

“One of the challenges is to find ways to better use technology innovations like the internet and social networking to improve the service we provide”. Macie is however an evolutionist rather than a revolutionary and is looking towards the gradual development of the organisation. Another goal is to create synergy through using the variety of skills that Peace Corps Volunteers bring to Azerbaijan, through peer support and training. “Between fifteen to twenty percent of volunteers are fifty years or older. These people have a lot of experience, maturity and confidence; skills that are balanced by the younger generation who are for the most part more able to use new technology effectively. I am looking at ways by which that these two groups can exchange their knowledge and expertise”. As we finished the interview, I looked around Macie’s office and noticed a map of the country on the wall. On it were a number of pins, representing the location of PCVs. Each one of them is involved in developmental work. In future editions of AZ Magazine will be focussing in on what Peace Corps does on the ground, and how it hope to benefit the people of Azerbaijan.

Enchanted Cottage Fair Trade Craft Shop

Pre Christmas Handicraft Fair 13 November 2011

11am-5pm Kishmish Hall, Hyatt Regency For further information Tel: 012-437-3286 Email: website: Sponsored by Norwegian Humanitarian Enterprise and International Rotary Club Baku For the benefit of artisans from all the regions of Azerbaijan

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Chisels and Gouges: Portrait of Azeri master carver Saladin by Dustin Windham Peace Corps Volunteer

His hands are constantly moving, controlled with the accuracy of a surgeon. He talks as he works, methodically trimming and preparing the meat before sliding it onto stainless steel skewers. At intervals he glances back towards the fire to examine its heat, as if in some prehistoric era. He carries himself like a poet His cigarette joins in the dance, adding allure to the fluid and precise movements of the speaker. The smoke from the meat fire combined with that from his Winston cigarette completes the scene. His hair is dark, dappled with grey, he wears a manicured mustache and his skin is tan like most men in the region. Short but solidly built. Round shoulders and rough hands, hardened by 30 years of work with wooden handled tools. But unlike most men, he carries himself like a poet, seeing radiance when the rest of us see routine. Shrouded with mystery and magic, he is protected from the harsh shapes and bold outlines that often define the existence of lesser men.

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His story begins centuries ago in the Middle East His name is Saladin. He agreed to share his story and a meal with me to explore his life and the history of his industry. It began centuries ago in the Middle East, when a charismatic leader won a momentous battle at Hattin that marked a turning point in a historic struggle. On a Roman road near Tiberias, in present day Israel, Saladin the first sultan of Egypt and Syria defeated the Crusaders, delivering a crippling blow that paved the way for the re-capture of Palestine in 1187 by the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin

founded this Muslim empire of Kurdish origin in Egypt. His chivalry and vision distinguished him as both a leader, and an adversary. He was a unique man. Despite being the nemesis of the Crusaders, King Richard the Lionheart spoke of him with respect, and even today he is a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry in both eastern and western cultures alike; a legacy of balance in an atmosphere pitched with conflict and contradictions. Our Saladin is also a king, both in name and character. Situated in a new crucible of conflict, but also marking a turning point and acting as a catalyst for change still to come.


Relief carving is a limitless form of artistic expression Commanding chisels and gouges, instead of armies, our Saladin spends his days carving doors, staircases, and moldings, for a small but elite market. When he is without this work, which often occurs in this ever-changing and developing country, he shakes off the title of tradesman and turns to his relief carvings for outlet and expression. Relief carving is a limitless form of artistic expression as old as antiquity. It is a sculptural form in which figures and scenes are carved onto a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than standing freely. The process is unique because it involves removing wood from a flat panel in such a way that the object appears to rise out of the material. My host adds that other forms of sculpture are based on adding material, clay for example, but when tasked with removing material, the difficulty increases. Saladin sometimes spends long hours bent over a project, cutting away layers built over decades, while at the same time creating something new that will outlive him. Persian walnut is his material of choice, a tree native to the Caucasus region, and known for its beautiful tone, tight grain, and unequaled density, this is confirmed by the layers of callus on the bottom of Saladin’s horny hands.

Waterfalls, shady trees and soaring mountains Back at the dinner table he serves us

barbequed mutton. He tells me about how he got his start as an artist 20 years ago and that he feels he has never finished a piece because like the world around him it too is alive, and changes with him. He tells a story about hanging a carving on the wall, then 10 years later taking it back down to alter a detail or two. A selftaught carpenter and artist, his art hangs on it’s own merit in the local art gallery in Ganja. He went on to tell with pride the story of one of his pieces that is displayed in a Russian Government building somewhere in St. Petersburg. It is a city often described as the most western in Russian and known for having the largest art museum in the world. It is fitting that our Saladin’s work finds residence there in Russia’s majestic former capital. With deep breaths and passionate tones he describes his pictures which are overflowing with waterfalls, shady trees, and soaring mountains. At first glance they look like utopian dreams reflecting nature on a good day. But upon inspection you see that the trees take on human qualities with the curve of gender and evolve into clouds with eyes and tears that drip into the life below. Other reliefs echo symbolic references to the number seven. The Koran’s seven heavens, creation’s seven days, and the rainbow’s seven colours. From East to West, Nile to Amazon, Abraham to the Land of OZ, his pictures illustrate age old wonders and Herculean ideals.

Building his empire out of imagination Back at the table with tea, we travel back in time with him as he lays out pictures of past projects and a life time of work. But according to Saladin his work is not work at all, but rather a release. When I ask what he thinks about while he labors, he describes a flight to a new world surrounded by the scene he wants to create. Fashioning his future with each thrust of the hand and sealing his heroic fate. I’ve travelled enough to know how rare it is in both this culture and abroad to enjoy your occupation. Most men can’t see beyond the nearest supervisor or the era’s social expectation. But like a King, our Saladin rules his work and inspires, building his empire out of imagination and love of details and the ability to escape into a fantastic world swirling with regal white birds silhouetted against a purple sky. Our Saladin’s story may not appear in the history books, but he has left his mark on me. Saladin has artwork for sale and can be contacted at the following email address:

A need for imagination After dinner he demonstrates this process by taking a blank walnut panel and quickly sketching out a scene in pencil. He escapes into his work as I wonder about the simplicity of his success and the elegance of his hand. He continues talking about the direction the picture could go, as well as commenting on the direction of art and creativity in Azerbaijan. He agrees that there is a need for more imagination in this culture struggling with its past and and fighting for a more positive future. Like shaping a piece of art, he cautiously encourages his children to be artists in a difficult economic and social environment. october 2011 | mag

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Countdown to Eurovision

by Elizabeth Collins

by Elizabeth Collins

Everyone is talking about it but, what actually is the Eurovision Song Contest?


he Eurovision Song Contest began in 1956 as a way to reunite Europe after the second world war. It has been broadcast every year since and is watched by an audience of millions; last year 125 million people tuned in. Considered by some as being gravely serious, others enjoy it for it’s farsical approach to music (check out Moldova’s entry this year on youtube – priceless). On the evening of the competition many people in Europe get the alcohol flowing, have a party and enjoy the 5 hour broadcast.

The history of the contest is not only interestingly but was extremely poignant at the time of the first broadcast, as it saw Europe working together to create something great, instead of fighting each other. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), based in Switzerland, was given the task of finding a ‘light entertainment programme’ that would link Europe together. The idea for the programme was based on the Sanremo Music Festival that took place each year in Italy to discover the countries’ most musically gifted people. The idea of transmitting the contest to the majority of European countries was mindblowing; with no such thing as satellite television, it was considered to be a great experiment into live TV. The first ever Eurovision Song Contest (named at the time the Eurovision Grand

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Prix, as a compromise on the English and the French languages. Although, this name was later dropped the contest is still presented to this day in both English and French) took place in Lugano, Switzerland. Seven countries competed and Switzerland was the overall winner; although it was recorded for the handful of Europeans fortunate enough to own a television is was primarily a radio show. The entire 1956 song contest can be listened to online today from

The contest is open to any country in “Europe” (and many that fall outside the standard definition of the region); they choose a song and an artist and after the qualifying rounds the finalists take to the stage to perform live on international television. The winner is now decided by an independent panel of judges from each country and a phone vote which both carry a 50 percent weighting. No country is allowed to vote for themselves. For many years the voting was criticised as being unfair as before it was purely members of the public voting by phone for their favourite entry. Political and friendly voting therefore took place. But as the voting issue has been resolved the winners are believed to be the best entry and worthy of their title. This year Azerbaijan won...

Azerbaijan is a country in a state of Euphoria. When Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal took to the stage in May of this year, representing Azerbaijan, it provoked much national pride, honour and excitement. Azerbaijan is a country that many people throughout the world had little knowledge of, but after the duo triumphed in Dusselldorf, to become the first ever Azerbaijani winners of the song contest, they really have put Azerbaijan on the map. The pair who performed their single Running Scared were clear contenders for the title from the start and their win entitles Baku to be the host of the next contest in 2012. The whole country is waiting to see the, no doubt, spectacular event that the organisers will broadcast to the world!!! Ell and Nikki, as the winners are affectionately referred to, are seen now as heroes of the country and it is difficult to


walk more than a few metres without seeing their faces on advertising boards, shop windows and even on buses. They will certainly be remembered by the country as breaking down barriers on Azerbaijan’s journey to the west. Both having enjoyed music and the arts from a young age; they both knew that their goal was to represent their country in the Eurovision. Now, they are simply on a whirlwind ride; publicity campaigns, a recording contract with an

album deal and a European tour are due to commence in the not so distant future. Eurovision in Azerbaijan will definitely be interesting, but it will be fabulous to see true song contest devotees descend on Azerbaijan for the next chapter in the story of the competition. It promises to be a year to remember in Azerbaijan, much celebration will undoubtedly occur and much fun will be had. At least in 2012 I will

have myself prepared for the song contest and not mistake music blarring, car horns sounding and people screaming as a sign of a seige, as I did this year. If Azerbaijan retain their European title then I will expect all the same celebration if not more but will be much calmer with all the comotion! They cerntainly will have a much greater chance of being triumphant than the UK ever will, but as long as the UK does not recieve ‘nil points’ again I will be happy!!

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Problem Page Baku’s newest Agony Uncle – Frank, has been tapping his pencil against his teeth and working through the latest batch of letters on his desk. Wants to be more than friends

My partner dumped me over 3 months ago now, but we carried on having sex until about a month ago, and now he seems to have lost interest in sex with me. He and his new girlfriend see me as just another “mate” and I’ve gone into the ‘friend-zone’. It crushes me as there is very little chance of getting back together or even having sex again. Every night I cry myself to sleep because I miss and love him. I had a fight with them the other day, over them not being able to see me as much as they once did. What can I do? It is always hard to face rejection and worse when you have been in a long term relationship with someone. The emotional ties remain for a long while afterwards and can push you in directions that are no good for you. Doesn’t it bother you that you were helping your ex-partner cheat on his girlfriend or were you just hoping to lure him back to you through sex?

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The fact that he has distanced himself from you suggests to me that he trying to make a go of it with his new girl but (oddly) they both seem to like you enough to want to have you as a friend. Personally, I think that is a difficult juggling act and the situation clearly not making you happy. Perhaps you should face the fact that you are no longer an item and move on with your life? Oh yes, and if you had a sex life in the past, the chances are you will have one again in the future…

Not interested in sex

Basically, I am a virgin and never want to have sex.... ever. Will this doom all of my relationships? Sex doesn’t scare me; I just don’t feel the desire to have it. I know you’ll say “you’re young, you’ll change your mind” and I probably will, but until then, is it really that bad? Thanks. Who says that sex in any relationship is compulsory? People assume that sex is “normal” and “right” but there are all sorts

of relationships and all sorts of “normal”. Sex is a continuum and what is right for you may not be right for someone else. Something like 2% of all adults have no interest in sex at all and in some countries the proportion is much higher. In Japan for example, something like 49% of 20 year-old males have never had a girlfriend and 36% of men between 16 and 19 are not interested in sex whatsoever. See a recent CNN article on the subject: http://www.  When you are older, you may feel different but if for now you aren’t interested, don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a relationship you don’t want.

To tall to date?

Hi, I’m an engineer and recently I met a woman I really like. The problem is that while I’m about 5’7”, she is 5’11’’. She found me very cute at a party and has been asking me for a date. Should I say yes or no? You like her and she likes you enough to ask you out? What on earth is the problem, go for it! Look, what seems to be bothering

Lifestyle you is not what you think about each other but how other people may judge you. “Ho, ho, isn’t is funny to see a guy going out with a girl who is taller than him?” That’s the real problem, isn’t it? What if she is your soul-mate and the perfect partner for you? Would you give that up for a few inches in height? I certainly would not. I had a female friend who was 6’ and revelled in it. She loved wearing high heels and looked amazing in them. All eyes turned to her whenever she walked into a room. Her partner was several inches shorter and rather than being a figure of fun, his friends were envious as hell. My advice? Say “yes”.

A breakup or on a break?

I broke up with my long-term partner on Saturday. However, yesterday I realized I really wanted to be with him, and now he says he wants to be with me. So we’ve re-titled our breakup, a break. My question is; what is the difference between one and the other? When I was in my teens and twenties, there was no such thing as being “on a break”. You were either seeing someone, or not. These days life is more complicated which is fine, so long as you are happy with the rules of the game. A breakup is easy to define. You don’t want to be with each other and you certainly don’t sleep with each other subsequently. A “break” is different. It means you may get back together in the future and in the meantime you want the freedom to sleep

with other people. You may even sleep with each other from time-to-time if the circumstances are right… Personally, I would find that kind of relationship emotionally confusing and not a good thing in the longer term. Did you and your partner “break-up” or go on a “break”? Neither in my opinion; you just had an argument!

In love with a married man?

I’m 36, been single for most of my life but have always held a torch for a man I met at University. We recently ran

into each other on the work circuit and all those feelings I’ve had bottle up inside have come straight back out in the open. We’ve slept together a couple of times and even though I’d love him to be with me, there’s one problem. He’s married and about four weeks away from becoming a father. I’ve met his wife, she’s lovely, but I can’t help thinking, and wishing, why it wasn’t me there having his baby. I’m not a nasty person and I’d never deliberately hurt him, his wife or their child. I’m not a home-wrecker. I keep telling myself that, but I can’t fight these feelings that I’ve held inside for so long. I think I love him. Help. Oh dear. Not only have you wasted years of your life mooning over a man you should have had at University, but now you’ve put yourself into an extremely vulnerable position. You know that it is wrong to have a relationship with him but he is worse by allowing you to get so close to him. Personally, I think someone needs to punch him on the nose, not just for betraying his pregnant wife but exploiting your feelings for him. Take a step back and have an honest look at the guy. Would you really want to have a relationship with a man who cheats on one woman while exploiting another? I know I wouldn’t. My advice is to buy several bottles of white wine, invite your closest girlfriends round for the evening, tell them your story and listen to what they have to say… october 2011 | mag

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by Jay Hiest

Jay Hiest works for NEVS Model Agency based in London. During the first week of September he travelled to New York to take part in the world’s largest fashion show. This is his exclusive insider’s view.

Lost in Manhattan New York Fashion Week – An exclusive AZ Mag insider’s view

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flatmate and trying to find my passport. I would not recommend the combination of the latter two activities. We entered Manhattan via the lower east side at around 6pm and as soon as I stepped out of the cab I was hit by a wall of heat. NYC is incredibly hot during the summer and even in the first week of September it is still pulsating from the unforgiving sun that cooks the city from the inside out during the months of June, July, and August. It’s late August 2011 and the preparations for New York Fashion Week have already begun. For the models, this means countless castings before the shows begin on September the 8th. There is one issue though; I’m still in London. Hurricane Irene has hit the east coast of the US and a quarter of a million people have been evacuated from New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has shut down JFK to all incoming international flights, so I, like many others, had to wait a couple of days for everything to blow over and transfer my flight. I don’t see it as an issue, although my agent in NYC was worried that I may miss a few castings… but it’s the last weekend in August, which means I’m able to join in with the festivities of Notting Hill Carnival before I fly out! Late on Tuesday the 30th of August I reschedule my flight for the very next morning. I didn’t think I would be able to find one so soon and was completely unprepared. I spent the night packing, drinking the dregs of carnival booze leftover from the night before with my

Typically models see a huge increase in castings in the weeks prior to FW and I’m soon to learn from my agent that I am no different. Fashion Week is seven days away and I have a lot of catching up to do. I have nothing on my schedule as it is late in the day, so I head uptown on the 1 train with my luggage. I was staying in an apartment in Spanish Harlem near 157th street, with six other models. When I walked out of the subway, I stopped by a liquor store to buy a handle of vodka with which to break the ice. The next seven days pass in a blur. When people ask me what castings I’ve been to I can hardly recount them because they’ve all blurred into one by the end of the week. This is undoubtedly the result of too many nights raising hell. Every day we took the 1 train downtown and went to our various appointments. When you arrive at a casting you usually sign in and wait for your turn. Most of the time the wait can be a long one... Once you’ve been called in, you demonstrate your ‘walk’ for the designer and his or her associates, polaroids are taken, clothes are tried on. Rinse and repeat and by the end of the week I am on option october 2011 | mag ine | 31


for seven shows. Being ‘on option’ essentially means that you’ve made into the next level of the selection process. The designers would potentially like to use you for their show, so they let your agent know to prevent any potential clashes with other shows on that day. I prefer not to know until I’ve been confirmed, or released from option as the case may be. Castings are finished, and now I had one free day to explore New York before fashion week begins. I headed down to Soho (the South One-Hundred) to grab a burger with my friend Chase who works in a bar called the Blind Barber, an old speak-easy hidden behind a barbershop which I frequented often. It’s always a good idea to know a barman in any city you’re visiting, but the alcohol prices in New York make it essential. I took a stroll through China Town, Little Italy and stumbled across the John Jovino Gun Shop, which claimed to be NYC’s oldest gun. I’ve only 32 | mag

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ever seen a shop like this in films; it feels strangely surreal to be in one and observing the merchandise. Two old women smiled at me as I inspected a Glock 17, I can’t take it to the back of the shop and test it on the firing range though, because I’m not a US native. ‘Oh that’s a shame,’ said one of the old ladies. New York City is never short of weird and new experiences for me, and it is infectious. The city is pulsating with the buzz of activity. Manhattan must be the closest thing humans have to a hive. Fashion week begins, and I have been confirmed for the Siki Im show, and the Alexandre Plokhov and Bespoken presentations. I was on option for a few others, including Marc by Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger but I was thankful to be doing some great shows. Siki Im was my first show, was set on an abandoned floor of a building in Soho and was starting

LIFESTYLE on with their team really well when I did their show a year ago. A couple of mates and I decide to attend, but not before a visit to the Blind Barber. The Native Son after party is in full swing when we arrive, a friend was currently manning a table of spirits and mixers for guests. Perfect timing.

late at night. Typically, models are given a call time three hours prior to the show time to allow for late arrivals and that time before the show is spent eating, drinking on numerous cigarette breaks in between having our hair and makeup done. About 30 minutes before the show is due to start we are dressed into our looks and lined up. You can feel the excitement building backstage. The press are milling around, taking a few of us aside for photos, asking us a few questions etc. A lot of us do this regularly and the nerves that we used to feel are replaced by eagerness and anticipation. It is a performance. The music starts and we are hushed into silence. The first model goes out to thunderous applause. When my turn came I was ready to go. I love my job. I walk out, like all the guys before me, to deafening applause and a wall of flashbulbs. For two or three minutes every one was focused on me and the clothes I was wearing. We all go round again single file for the finale, and then it’s over. We dress back into our own clothes, grab a few cold drinks and make plans for the rest of the night. Good times.

makes doing shows even more enjoyable. Before I know it, my last night in NYC has reared its head. I’ve been invited to the Native Son after party because I got

A few drinks later two models from my agency and I decide to go to a party at the Standard, a notorious night out in NYC. We get in without much effort and jump in the elevator that took us to the roof, and one of the most insane parties I have ever seen. The elevator doors open to pounding deep house and there are both men and women in outrageous outfits. It felt like I was at a Lady Gaga convention. The smoking area was open air on the roof, with a bar, deck chairs, and giant waterbeds. I can’t really remember my last night and perhaps it was for the best. New York, New York. (So good they named it twice!)

The rest of my shows were just as fun, and I was fortunate to do shows with some good friends. A lot of the male models are just normal lads doing a fun job, it’s rare to meet any diva types and as a result a lot of dudes know each other quite well which

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Marios Schwab


Girl on a Motorcycle or


Lady in Leather Leather has been a solid Fall trend for a the long time, but this season it’s no longer exploiting the hot biker chic look. Designers such as Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors and brands like Gucci and Valentino have given an ultra feminine makeover to this natural material. From long coats and sexy skirts to eye-catching dresses and bold bags, leather will be coming in a wide range of products and unusual colours this year…


Kelly Bergin


Fashion columnist & designer Ulya Aliyeva




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Lady Gaga

Blake Lively



Salma Hayek

Sarah Jessica Parker

Marc by Marc Jacobs

Leather dresses in different colours and shapes are the new big hit for A-list celebrities. From gorgeous starlet Blake Lively and extravagant Lady Gaga to stylish Sarah Jessica Parker and feminine Salma Hayek - celebs were spotted rocking this fall’s hottest trend!

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Neon Fashion Show The night of Tuesday 18th September saw TISA students present their exclusive fashion designs to a waiting public. Coinciding with New York Fashion Week, the event incorporated an exhibition of handmade jewellery and accessories.

One attendee was quoted as saying “I was astonished at the variety and quality fashions on display�. For more information about the show and the designers, contact Vicki Gardener.

Alexis Rakochy

Email: Images by Steve Hoiler & Katya Zhukova Blake Dennis

Fashion bags made from Kilim rugs

Bridget Totterdell

Caroline Holtzel Caen Dennis once again

Greg Skehan & John Gillespie Claudia Dastmalchi

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Jenna Edment


Handmade felt scarf Hi Jeong Shin

Caitlin Kurz & Valentine Pons

Ho Jeong Shin & Nuriyya Alizada

Kayla McEwen

Nickee (Beauty Buzz) Dixon Barbora Kudmaniene

Feather earings

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Semi-precious stone pendants

Valentine Pons Shirin Muradova

Sharon Herbert Nicky

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Recycled catfood shopping bags Nuriyya Alizada

Rebecca Rodrigues de Miranda again... Tamila Dowse

Caen Dennis

Claudia Dastmalchi, again!

Rebecca Rodreues de Miranda

Handcrafted jewelry

Valentine Pons once more...

Tara Godet

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by Nickee Dixon

When creams just aren’t enough Let’s ‘face’ it readers, sometimes even the most dedicated skin care regimes and gruelling exercise routines, just isn’t enough to banish those permanent laughter lines, combat stealth age spots or resist weighed down jowls.

What can we do? I hear you cry. In this month’s Beauty Buzz, for us who are scared of the scalpel, I have been scoping the low down on the top five most popular non surgical treatments for the face and body, ready for you to consider/ponder before those up and coming Christmas New Year parties - yikes!

Excessive Hair? We have shaved, plucked, waxed and threaded, monthly, weekly and in some cases daily. Not only can this cause damage to the skin over time (in- growing hair, darker spots around the treated area), but it can be an inconvenience in terms of time and budget over the long term. Possible Solution: Laser treatment A hand-held laser device sends out pulsed light on the skin to seek out the dark colour of hair, and destroys the hair follicle. Hair will begin to fall out within the next 10 - 14 days after treatment. PROS - Although not a permanent removal, laser hair treatment offers a major permanent hair reduction, depending upon on your hair cycle (yes – hair has its own cycle) and the amount of treatments you opt for.

What is a non-surgical treatment? Non – surgical treatments are methods used to temporarily stop the signs of ageing without us resorting to the knife. There are numerous brands and methods to treat the skin for facial/body concerns. From age spots, excessive facial hair to wrinkle and line reduction or even cellulite reduction, these treatments can be done within an hour as a one-off session every 3 months or in a series of treatments spanning years, depending on the severity of the concern or the severity of your vanity. 40 | mag

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CONS – not for everybody, for example laser hair removal does not work on skin with blonde, grey or white hair as the beam cannot ‘find’ the hair, therefore causing damage to the skin and not the follicle. Darker skin shades should also be aware as there are certain machines that are not compatible. It is always best to check with your dermatologist/beautician for a consultation for machine/skin compatibility.

Age Spots?

You may find that after 40 your marks that once gave you character, are now the bain of your life. As we age our skin is

subjected to more and more sun damage. Our skin has what is called ‘melanin pigment’ which absorbs sunlight and helps naturally protect our skin from UV rays. However as we age, our skin’s natural ability to fend off UV rays from the sun begins to deteriorate, cue age spots or lentigines. Possible Solution: Laser treatment (again..) Laser treatment is a very effective at permanently removing age, liver, sun or brown spots on the skin. Laser surgery for age spots is done by using a laser beam that generates energy to the surface of the skin. As the energy is absorbed by the red blood cells and pigment of the skin, it creates heat at the site of the age spots, causing total destruction of their composition.

PROS – Time… To notice visible results, a minimum of two sessions is needed and shouldn’t take more than six sessions for spots to completely disappear (the age spots will not return if you are serious about your sun protection, post treatment) CONS – Cost – depending on severity of marking of the face/body ( a hint, fairly expensive as you never have just one age spot!) Expression lines? Did you know that 20% of these lines are genetic and 80% are environmental, the ‘environmental’ means too much sun and/ or too many cigarettes! Possible solution? Botox For moderate to heavy expression lines (between the brow, either side of your mouth or crow’s feet), Botox maybe worth considering. Botox is a botlinum toxin (poison) that blocks the nerve impulses that cause muscle activity and expression lines. This is a popular choice to temporally rid the odd crepe of a line (up to 4 months). The shot feels like a quick pinch, and there’s rarely bruising or swelling afterward; results last three months or more (er hem – so they tell me). PROS – fairly quick results, temporarily restoring a smoother, youthful face CONS – incorrect injection placement, could lead to heavy eye-lid drooping or if incorrectly administered around the mouth area, you could be drooling for weeks. But even a perfectly executed procedure has consequences. Depending on which wrinkles you go after, you might not be able to frown or raise your eyebrows or squint.

Deeper Wrinkles? Loss of volume in the tissue below the skin (not years of smiling) is largely the cause of deeper wrinkles. Possible solution? Fillers or Wrinkle Injections Instead of paralyzing muscles, how about filling the loose skin that creates the wrinkle? This treatment literally loads up

your wrinkle with one of several synthetic substances that plump the skin and erase the line. Volia! Instant smoothness in less than 30 minutes. PROS – due to the ‘filling’ of wrinkle, results are instant CONS – if done incorrectly, lumps can be formed under the skin, this is known as granuloma, although a prescriptive medication can be injected further under the skin to dissolve the lumps – ouch!

Dull, Lifeless Complexion? Ageing tends to slow down in the body, including blood circulation and the natural exfoliating process of the skin. The result is skin that feels and looks sluggish, lifeless, dull, and just plain “blah.” Possible Solution? Chemical peels or Microdermabrasion This procedure uses lots of compounds to “peel” away damaged layers of skin -- and along with it, surface lines and wrinkles. The chemical peel is also used for softening ‘light’ wrinkles, and correcting pigmentation and other sun damage problems, as well as improving skin texture. It also works to tighten skin and erase acne scars.

Chemical Peels Types of Peels : There are three types of chemical peels -- superficial, medium and deep, depending upon the type of chemical used and duration of the treatment. The deeper the peel, the more extensive the renewal process, with medium and deep peels able to stimulate collagen renewal, so skin is firmer, more smoother and more youthful. Due to the nature of the peel, people with darker skin, should refrain from this treatment as side effects can include ‘hyper-pigmentation’ – where the melanin in the skin produces darker or lighter blotches PROS – If opting for a light peel, you are in and out during your lunch hour, with no recovery time. CONS – If opting for a deep peel, the treatment takes about 2 hours, requires sedation, and needs about 2 weeks healing time. Although results are permanent, new wrinkles can form over time. Microdermabrasion Take note Doctors (yes, doctors) use a vacuum suction device, with a mild chemical crystal, to remove the top layer of skin cells. This brings new, more evenly-textured skin to the surface, giving a glowing, brighter and smoother complexion. PROS – This is one of the quickest ways to rejuvenate and revitalize your skin, making this treatment the ultimate facial. More suited for darker skins (Mediterranean to black). CONS – for the impatient, the process takes just 30 minutes, although it does require multiple treatments and several weeks to see full results. Temporary redness will occur. Note: I deliberately did not put a price range or mention a practitioner in this article as these treatments differ extensively from country to country and I want to give facts NOT recommendations. I hope this article has given you a general, basic starting point for those looking into non-surgical facial treatments. In all cases research and consult with a licensed practitioner before proceeding! Nickee – Beauty Buzz

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Advertising Feature

According to the United Nations website “as for Azerbaijan as a whole, considerable progress has been achieved regarding adequate supplies of safe drinking water that lead to a better health and higher standards of living; nearly three quarters of population use drinking water from improved water sources. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan is poor in terms of available water resources and there are still troubling spots”. The website goes on to state that, “much surface water is polluted by heavy metals and pesticide residues”. What does this mean for you? The following abridged article is reprinted from the website. Exposure to some metals, such as mercury and lead, may also cause development of autoimmunity, in which a person’s immune system attacks its own cells. This can lead to joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and diseases of the kidneys, circulatory system, and nervous system. The young are more prone to the toxic effects of heavy metals, as the rapidly developing body systems in the fetus, infants and young children are far more sensitive. Childhood exposure to some 42 | mag

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metals can result in learning difficulties, memory impairment, damage to the nervous system, and behavioral problems such as aggressiveness and hyperactivity. At higher doses, heavy metals can cause irreversible brain damage. Children may receive higher doses of metals from food than adults, since they consume more food for their body weight than adults. Heavy metals in the environment are caused by air emissions from coal-burning plants, smelters, and other industrial facilities; waste incinerators; process wastes from mining and industry; and lead in household plumbing and old house paints. Industry is not totally to blame, as heavy metals can sometimes enter the environment through natural processes. In addition to drinking water, we can be exposed to heavy metals through inhalation of air pollutants, exposure to contaminated soils or industrial waste, or consumption of contaminated food. Because of contaminated water, food sources such as vegetables, grains, fruits, fish and shellfish can also become contaminated by accumulating metals from the very soil and water it grows from. Toxic bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals routinely penetrate and pollute our natural water sources making people sick

The health risks of heavy metals in drinking water while exposing them to long term health consequences such as liver damage, cancer and other serious conditions. We have reached the point where all sources of our drinking water, including municipal water systems, wells, lakes, rivers contain some level of contamination. Even some brands of bottled water have been found to contain high levels of contaminants in addition to plastics chemical leaching from the bottle. A good water filtration system installed in your home is the only way to proactively monitor and ensure the quality and safety of your drinking water. Telephone: +(994 12) 596 1899 Website:, or

Water Engineered Technologies Drinking clean water could save your life! All disease starts with what you put in your body: water, air, and food. If you have any of the following disease…

- - - - - - - -

Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) Cancer Diabetes Kidney stones Gall stones Autoimmune disease Fatigue Persistent colds and flu symptoms

…water is a vital element that will help you regain our health. Water comprises 70% of your body weight. If your body is polluted with harmful

chemicals or massive amounts of bacteria, then you increase your risk of the ailments mentioned above. If you already suffer from one of these ailments, then drinking pure water will help your body fight its way back to health. Regain your health by removing harmful chemicals from your water Special filters are used by Water Engineered Technologies to remove the chemicals in water, while leaving in place the important minerals necessary for a healthy life. The filters used by WET are specifically selected, depending on the type of water you have at your home. In some cases ultrafiltration is employed to assure everything harmful is removed.

Endorsments from long-time users of our system John Patterson – i2offshore ltd. “I have been a client of the above company for over 10 years now here in Azerbaijan and recommend this company to you.”

Killing the bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites No disinfection system kills everything in your water, therefore we use a double disinfection system (as specified by the World Health Organization (WHO)). The major benefits of drinking WET Solutions water

- -

WET water meets the WHO standards and will clean out your system, improving your health Our water will protect you family and cut down on the incidence of disease

Morgan Phillips - Owner - Absheron Engineering “I have no hesitation in recommending these units and your service to others ex-pats living in Baku.” Natalya Hasanova - Director - World Medical Center “WET installed modern technology and maintains the systems to the highest standards. We are very satisfied.”

Call our water experts today on 012-596 1899 or 050-255 0877

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Having a baby in Baku

by Elizabeth Collins

I was told I had simply gone mad! People questioned whether I had really thought through the notion of giving birth in Azerbaijan? Had I considered anything going wrong? What was my plan if I suddenly decided I had to leave the country? The answer to all these questions was no I hadn’t seriously considered any of them. There are thousands of healthy children running around Baku, perfectly happy so why I didn’t see why the standard of care I recieved in Baku would be less satisfactory than in the UK? And it turns out it wasn’t! If I have to make the decision again; UK vs. Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan would win. The care and the medical support I recieved was no doubt bizarre but definitely faultless. I was four months pregnant when we first arrived in Baku and had little idea of the geographical location of the country let alone it’s healthcare system, so I kept an open mind and decided to 44 | mag

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go with the flow. Initially after hearing tales of expat problems with anything medical in the country, my plan was to return to the UK, but within a couple of weeks I met a lovely English speaking doctor who had experience in Europe and discussed my options with her. My decision was then made; keep the family together and no travelling, I was comfortable with the arrangements...... and then the drama began. My first appointment was to have a scan so they could confirm my dates, so I arrived at a completely non-English speaking clinic and handed over my appointment card. I was then taken to the scanning room. Ok, so far, so good! The scan started and

the lady (English speaking) performing it said everything looked fine, did all the measurements, checked vital organs and confirmed the baby was in perfect health. She then asked as they normally do whether I wanted to know the sex of the baby, my response was ‘no’, she said ‘ok but he is doing fine’. So I had some additional information I didn’t request but tried not to get too emotional (often difficult with hormones flying everywhere) and tried to convince myself that as long as the baby was ok that was all that mattered. So, after that appointment I was called to see the doctor; the first question she asked was ‘when do you want to deliver’, I presumed I had misunderstood and replied

LIFESTYLE and she advised I meet her at the clinic and she would send an ambulance. I wasn’t in that much pain so I suggested that I catch a cab. This apparantly was not an option, so an ambulance was sent and I was forced to lie down feeling like an absolute twit! It was only childbirth not a life threatening illness.

‘well, I hope to get to 40 weeks but my first child (also a boy!!) was 2 weeks late. A look of ecstacy came across her face – not only was I backing away from her at this point but was considering putting my two year old under my arm and sprintinng away, but when the giggling started and she picked up her mobile to call someone I genuinely thought she was having some sort of mental breakdown. Ignoring my concerns, and slighlty intrigued at this bizzare reaction, I decided to stay to attempt to establish what on earth was going on. After numerous phone calls and endless giggling it transpired that she had realised I wanted a natural birth. At this point I wasn’t aware that c-sections were the recognised method of delievery in Baku and although the doctor had assisted natural births in Europe, she had never seen one in Azerbaijan. It was then I started to have some concerns. However for some strange reason I did trust her and after much deliberation decided this was still the right decision for me.

I had hit 40weeks and no signs of labour, I was perfectly calm as I knew there was still a couple of weeks to chill out, but the doctor didn’t agree. She was convinced that something must be wrong as I had exceeded my due date and sent me for an emergency scan. Off I went with very few concerns and had the scan, where it was found that the baby was fine and a healthy 7lbs. Another phone call, ‘your baby is very, very small. We must act now’ Immediately I was on the phone to my UK GP who agreed with me that there was nothing to worry abbout, and advised that I just relax and wait for something to happen - which I did. At 42 weeks to the day I was in some discomfort so I phoned the doctor

On arrival at the clinic I was greeted by a welcoming commitee; they were obviously also excited that someone was having a natural birth (it later transpired that in the twenty years the clinic had been running a maternity unit, they had never had a natural birth on the premises, only pre-planned c-sections. None of the other staff had ever experienced it; this included midwives, gynaecologists and others). I was taken straight through to have my baby as by this point I was in quite a bit of pain, the staff were all lined round the bed, waiting for each stage of labour to occur and my doctor was teaching them what to do as the labour progressed. The care the team provided was immense they couldn’t have done more for me; they were deverstated when the labour only lasted 40minutes (I of course was not) and my baby boy arrived weighing a healthy 7lb 2ozs. How long we stay in Baku is uncertain, but one thing for sure is that one day I will be returning to Baku just to show Hugo where he was born!

The next couple of months past with only the odd blood test and scan and very little drama. The only point of confusion for me during this period was the clinic’s amazement that neither me or my child showed any signs of diabetes and the baby showed no signs of ‘retardation’. Good result I felt, as by this point I had been in Baku for longer and developed the skill of just smiling in agreement and nodding my head at times of uncerntainty. Everything was on track we were both doing fine and then one phone call saw my blood pressure rocket. october 2011 | mag

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British Energy Minister stresses ongoing co-operation with the Azerbaijani Government When asked about his attitude towards future gas supplies to Europe, the Minister replied that “we need the gas pipeline infrastructure in place as soon as possible. Consumer demands are the most important”. Asked about the importance of shale gas, he said “it is a world but not a UK gamechanger. The gas is under some of the most expensive real-estate in the country”. He continued that there has been a change in attitude towards the role gas is likely to play in the energy chain. It was previously thought that this would decline dramatically however he felt that in the future it will “drop only slightly”.


harles Hendry, British Minister for Energy and Climate Change met with President Ilham Aliyev and Energy and Industry Minister Natig Aliyev in Baku at the end of September to discuss further co-operation between the two countries. The UK Minister and Natig Aliyev met to discuss a draft agreement on longterm exploration and development of the Shafag-Asiman gas field and the proposed construction of a new oil and gas refinery and chemical complex. Other topics under discussion included the potential for cooperation on alternative and renewable energy initiatives. Natig Aliyev said that Azerbaijan had already launched a project to produce 5.5 mega-watts of power from renewables. The British Minister went on to say that the UK took alternative energy seriously and has a target to produce 15% of all energy used in the country using these techniques by 2020. He hoped that co-operation in this field based on British technology would be possible in the future.

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Speaking at the British Business Group meeting on the 28th September the Minister said, “we aim to help the British business community open doors in Azerbaijan and support you to win contracts around the world. There has been incredible change in the past three years and Britain has been at the heart of this process. The message we have received from the government is a desire for real partnership”. The meeting of some seventy key members of the British business community was held at the Hyatt hotel and marked the 15th anniversary of the organisation set up in 1996 by the late Robin Bennett OBE. The speech by the Minister was followed by a question and answer session facilitated by BBG Chairman John Patterson. Questions from the floor covered many topics including issues arising from the cultural legacy of the former Soviet Union. In response, the Minister replied that these required ongoing multilateral co-operation and support, if they were to be addressed affectively.

Returning to the importance of the relationship between Britain and Azerbaijan, the Minister noted that President Aliyev had changed his flight arrangements to Poland to ensure he would be able to meet with him. This he took as a positive sign of the ongoing friendliness between the two countries and evidence of willingness to work together in the future. The minister was warmly thanked for his attendance and contribution by John Patterson on behalf of the British Business Group.

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Oil & Gas News BUSINESS

Major Azerbaijan Gas Discovery French multinational oil company Total S.A, announced a major discovery in the Absheron gas field 100 kilometers southeast of Baku on the 9th September. The find represents potential reserves estimated at 7 trillion cubic feet of gas and associated condensates, according to a company press release.

The field first discovered by Azerbaijani scientists in 1960, was commissioned for exploration in 1993 with the first production sharing agreement signed between SOCAR and ChevronTexaco in 1997. In 2001, gas condensate beds were found on the depth of 6,500 metres but at the time these were not considered commercially viable. In 2009, a new contract between Total, SOCAR and latterly GDF Suez was ratified, paving the way for the discovery made at the Absheron X-2 exploration well drilled by the Heydar Aliyev rig. The rig is operated by Maresk Drilling.

According to Total’s Senior Vice President Exploration Marc Blaizot, “this discovery could be very significant in terms of resources. It is the result of Total’s bolder exploration strategy aimed at exploring high risk/high reward prospects both in prolific and frontier basins particularly in high pressure, deeply buried reservoirs. Our geoscientists and drillers have all the skills to make other discoveries in similar environments like the United Kingdom, Brunei, Malaysia or Egypt where new permits have been recently awarded to Total.” Production is likely to begin before the original estimated date of 2021-22 if an additional well at a depth of 4,000 meters provides positive results. The discovery could also have positive effects for the Azerbaijani economy and significantly for the Nabucco project; the proposed natural gas pipeline

New oil, gas and chemicals plants to be built

from Turkey to Baumgarten an der March in Austria. Significantly, Total also holds a 10% stake in the South Caucasus Pipeline Consortium designed to transport natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea to Turkey. In the longer term, the South Caucasus Pipeline could supply Europe with Caspian natural gas through the Nabucco, Turkey–Greece and Greece– Italy pipelines.

Plans for gas output to double by 2020

Although the level of gas production in Azerbaijan is projected to top 27 billion cubic metres in 2011, SOCAR head Rovnag Abdullayev announced that this will double by the end of the decade, at the 6th Eurasia Kazenergy forum which was held in Astana in Kazakhstan earlier this month.

It was recently announced that an a oil refinery with capacity of 10 million tons per year, a gas refinery with annual capacity of 10 billion cubic meters, and a carbamide plant with capacity of 700,000 tons per year are planned for Azerbaijan, with start dates on construction during 2012. The first stage of the project is expected to be completed by 2017 and 48 | mag

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fully operational by 2020. In a related development, the first vessel constructed at the new SOCAR shipyard will be commissioned by mid-2013. According to SOCAR, “the tankers could be used to ship Kazakhstan’s oil to Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea in the future.”

Abdullayev went on to state that Azerbaijan will play an increasingly important role in European gas security and that production will rise to more than 50 billion cubic metres by 2025. Oil production is forecast at some 46 million tons this year.

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BUSINESS & Finance

Where do I put my money? by John Patterson

I have been asked to write this column on the basis that it should be relevant to the readership – i.e. not just “stolen” from the internet, and that it shouldn’t just promote what I do for a living! I will aim to do just that, focussing on the specific needs of ex-pats living in Azerbaijan and the information I provide will be (as far as possible) even-handed, leaving you to decide what to do with it...

Playing Devil’s Advocate

The first part of “the deal” is easy, I just write a load of nonsense every month and I certainly won’t have copied anything however, that would then do the opposite of main purpose, which is to meet your needs. So what I will be aiming to do will be to play the devil’s advocate. I certainly have opinions (that are not always correct) and as such, will present then as my personal views on what is going on with US$, the Euro and Gold. These are topical issues in the financial world right now but as I say, the words in this column are provided without prejudice and simply represent my personal views.

The Euro – Bad Times a Coming When the Euro was launched 11 years ago, it exchanged at 0.87€ to the US$, now (30/9/2011) it is valued at 1.35€. Moreover, until three weeks ago it was still above 1.40€, a rise of 60% over 11 years. This is despite the fact that over that period, the European Union amassed more and more debt and is now on the verge (apparently) of monetary union collapse. What is not really explained by economists and others, is that any austerity budgets being introduced by EU member countries will not actually reduce the amount that will be spent each year. So, whilst we are definitely heading for a financial meltdown without these measures, the bad stuff will continue for a long time to come...

The US$ - Another currency in decline

The US$ has been in decline for over 10 years now. Those of you who are paid in US$ have no doubt have been pleased with its recent rally. The problem for the US$, is that the reason for its declining

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value (a 60% loss against the Euro in 11 years) is that America is spending more than it earns and as such, continues to head towards bankruptcy. With a President who wants to spend substantial sums on healthcare and a Republican Party that wants to reduce spending in the same area (but to keep up spending in others - like the military), there is a political impasse. The dollar’s recent rise only reflects a market view that the Euro Sovereign Debt problem is bigger (right now) than that of the USA!

Is the Euro-zone heading for bankruptcy?

That the Euro-zone is heading towards bankruptcy is a possibility and I

think that in terms of Sovereign default, the market seems to believe that there is a likelihood that Greece will not be bailed out fully in the future. If that happens, its creditors will lose substantial amounts of money... Now if you accept what is written above, you must conclude that to be holding Euros is a bad idea at this time and things seem to be getting worse!. The alternative

BUSINESS & Finance approach would be to invest (or be paid) in US$, however that doesn’t appear to be a very sensible thing to do either, given that the USA’s ability to repay its debt was downgraded by Standard and Poor’s to AA+ in August... Soon afterwards, the legal limit to which the USA can borrow was raised, so that doesn’t make the argument for the dollar to strengthen a good one. This is especially true given an administration that seems unable to act decisively or do anything to effectively slow down the spending pattern. A currency ultimately tells you how fiscally strong a nation is. The fact that the Euro is so high, shows how bad the US currency is doing and also that people are really unsure of what to do.

So, what about gold? So investors have been buying Gold, a completely useless metal; unless perhaps you have had an argument with your wife – still useless if it was a big argument because then of course you need diamonds (this rule only applies for women, all that men need to be placated is the provision of sex, obviously).

The price for Gold today (30th September) is $1,624.55 per ounce. Anyone who bought it a month ago (August) has lost 11%. Indeed, it has dropped from its 2011 peak value by about 15%. This loss relates to the rise in the US$, and is probably caused by liquidity issues. In other words, all of a sudden people needed cash...

Is the rise in the value of gold a

Replacing gold with “trust”

In 1971, the US came off a thing called the Gold Standard. Essentially, the US had to hold physical reserves of the stuff, equal to the number of dollars in circulation. As more and more dollars came into circulation, this became impossible. So the strength of US$ against other currencies became the “trust” upon which its value was based. That trust is being eroded and not just for the simplistic reasons described above. So, the price of Gold has risen more or less on the basis that there is no “safe haven” for money to flee to. It really does reflect the sad fact that we are in a very serious financial mess that will affect everyone in the World for a long time to come.

“bubble” that will inevitably burst? Personally, I don’t believe so. I also believe that in the immediate future, the dollar will weaken further after an initial period of strengthening in the wake of uncertainty over the future of the Euro-zone. Is the US$ going to get weaker? Probably in the immediate future, will it regain its strength? Not for any long or sustained period against most world currencies, but against the euro – a strong probability Then again, what do I know?

General Manager – Baku, Azerbaijan Reporting to the Group Managing Director, the position will :

• rovide effective leadership and direction to all departments in the company • Establish action plans and strategic goals to achieve the company objectives Set and administer operating policies in line with applicable standards of the business • Coordinate and direct department heads to achieve defined objectives

The ideal candidate will have a demonstrable knowledge of the fluid power and associated industries, with a particular knowledge of fluid power applications in the Oil & Gas Sector. Broad business knowledge and experience of Finance, Sales and Administrative functions is essential. An Engineering background supported with a track record of success in business management, and a working knowledge of Fluid Power Drive and Control solutions would be a distinct advantage. Attractive salary package offered.

To apply, please send resume to

BUSINESS & Finance

Enhancing Staff Advertising feature

Performance in Azerbaijan: by Jamal Shahverdiyev

Coaching and its power to help you achieve your business goals “I used to feel that 24 hours in a day was simply not enough time for me to get all my work done. I was constantly under stress, had to stay in the office until late and took work home on the weekends. Coaching became an eye-opening experience for me. A few weeks through the coaching program I completely changed the way I used my time and I got a lot more done much faster than before. I took a vacation for the first time in three years. I feel great about my progress and I look forward to unlocking more of my potential thanks to a personalized coaching program.”

These comments were shared with me by Gulnara, who decided to participate in an individual coaching program a few months ago. She is a brand manager of an international pharmaceutical company with a representative office in Baku, and the success of her company largely depends on her ability to effectively market her products. It took her a few coaching sessions to realize how she could drastically improve her productivity and get a much larger return on the time that she put into her daily activities. After two months of working with the coaching program, she had changed her approach to the time management completely and is far more effective in her role.

What is coaching and how does it work? Coaching is the process of helping professionals realize their full potential, set goals and achieve their targets in an optimal way. Just like Gulnara, each one of us has a wealth of undiscovered potential 52 | mag ine | october 2011

and many talents. Coaching can help us maximize these latent skills and abilities. By asking thought-provoking questions, the coach will help you look at problems from a variety of different angles and arrive at the right decision for action. The coach will also help you to design a personalized training and development plan, that will help you stay on course and achieve your targets. In addition, the coach will challenge you to raise the bar and achieve even more. Over the past decade, coaching has been emerging as a powerful tool for increasing organisational performance, effectiveness and profitability. Recent studies show an increasing use of coaching by companies in Europe and the U.S. to enhance a wide range of organisational aspects, such as strategic planning, helping newly hired managers through a transition, enhancing performance management and other issues depending on specific needs of each company and individual.

Coaching in Azerbaijan Although coaching has been used in Europe and the United States to increase performance for over a decade the whole concept of it is new to Azerbaijan and the region. In Azerbaijan, coaching opportunities have been quite limited and been mostly accessible by managers of large multi-national companies. In 2011 however, progressive managers of several

small and medium sized companies decided to try this modern tool to enhance the performance of their staff. Morgan Phillips, Operations Director of Baku-based Absheron Engineering has said: “I decided to put a few of my key staff through a pilot coaching program offered by AZERMS. In three months, the results have been extremely positive. I have seen dramatic changes in their ability to bring higher value to our company by addressing critical issues that affect our productivity and bottom line. Coaching has real power!”

What can coaching do for me? Most people have huge potential that remain untapped. Whether you are a recent university graduate or top executive with decades of experience, this will help you. Coaching is designed for people who are open to new possibilities of becoming more successful, regardless of their current stage in life. Do you believe that your talents and abilities could be developed to allow you to achieve better results? Are you willing to put them to use to enhance your performance? If the answer to both questions is “yes,” you may want to find out more about how coaching has helped other professionals and then decide for yourself whether you would like to benefit from it in the future. Jamal Shahverdiyev is a Performance Coach with the AZERMS’ Coaching program and managing director of CBSolutions. For further information email:

Through the good and the bad times In Baku since 1998

Baku Branch - John Patterson E-mail: Telephone: + (994 12) 4928173 Mobile: + (994 50) 2132267



An Exotic blend of Tea club, cocktail bar and restaurant

wristwatch (a rarity in Soviet Azerbaijan) and John Paul II, a papal medal! That being the case, I think it can be truthfully said that the dapper 56 year old, knows a thing or two about quality service. You will find Yashar at the entrance to Kishmish (Azeri for raisin), ready to greet you with a warm smile and to usher you into the gorgeous, eclectically decorated interior. Owned by prominent Azerbaijani architect Elchin Aliyev, the venue opened some five years ago, as a place you could go to drink one of its sixty varieties of fine teas from around the world, in a sophisticated environment. Since then, it has developed into a venue where you can go to drink fine wines from France, Italy and the new world or enjoy light meal. “We offer speciality teas from India, China, Japan, Moldova, Pakistan and many other countries, including of course, Azerbaijan!” he told me as we sat chatting in the comfortable seating area surrounded by Persian miniatures, a collection of ornate teapots and old pictures of Elchin Aliyev’s family dating back to pre-Soviet times.

Only in Baku would you find a tea “club” managed by man who once waited table for Leonid Brezhnev and Pope John Paul II. Not at the same time, that would be asking for too much, but it is true that Yashar Nabataliyev pleased both men with his service. Brezhnev presented him with a

by Steve Hollier

I happened to walk into the club on the very day Yashar introduced the food menu and had a light lunch with my friend Ibrahim, who had recommended the place to me. We had arrived in the old city half an hour early for a meeting, something that cannot be allowed to happen in Baku and therefore we were looking for a constructive way to spend the intervening period. We ordered a pot of Azeri tea and two plates of Russian salad that arrived freshly made, soon afterwards. Unlike

other versions of the same dish I have eaten here, Yashar’s Russian Salad was not overwhelmed by the dressing and was full of neatly cut pieces of fresh cucumber, diced boiled potato and other vegetables. On the table sat two small dishes of the venue’s trademark kishmish or raisins. Like everything else here, they were of the finest quality and a pleasure to consume… Kishmish is not a common or garden teashop. It is exclusive and as such not cheap. A pot of tea for two, plus a light lunch for two cost me 25AZN. Mind you, I have paid much more for less in Baku, so it still represents value for money! I checked through the menu and noted that a pot of tea for two costs up to 12.90AZN, but that that is for Yashar’s “top secret” blend of Kishmish tea. More ordinary pots cost around 6AZN. Food is modestly priced, with a Greek salad or a brochette costing 5.50AZN. Currently, the venue is open from 2pm until midnight but Yashar would like to open from 7am in the near future, to provide an elegant petit dejeuner for business people and a venue for “power breakfasts”. To find Kishmish, enter the Old City through the double-gate, turn immediately right and you will find it 100 metres up the hill on the left-hand side.

Street address: Kiçik qala küç., 108 (Içeri Sheher) Telephone: (+994 12) 492-91-82, (+994 50) 492-91-82 Opening hours: 14:00-24:00 Website: 54 | mag ine | october 2011

Otto Efes beer cafe Baku

january 2011 | mag ine | 53


Restaurant Review by Steve Hollier

The Dragon:

Taste the world on the tip of your tongue

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FOOD Sitting beside Kelvin Chong and Nemik Sirafilov as we amiably drank tea together, I was struck by how well the culinary skills of the chef were complimented by the organisational abilities of the restaurant manager. I quickly came to the conclusion that this teamwork is what makes dining at the newly refurbished Dragon restaurant on Samad Vurghun Street an exemplary and delightful experience. Chef Kelvin Chong

he soon moved to the prestigious Shangri La hotel in Singapore and then on to the Pan-Asian restaurant Cocoon in Piccadilly, central London when he was only twentytwo. Later, Kelvin moved to the Goldfish restaurant on Hampstead High Street where he won the Ham and High Best Chef of the Year award in 2005. From here, he continued his professional education in Paris and internships at the Hilton and at the Ritz á Paris, under Executive Chef des cuisines Michel Roth. Further international work followed until two months ago, when Kelvin moved to Baku to oversee the relaunch of his current establishment.

Restaurant Manager Nemik Sirafilov

been working for the Pasha Group since 2005, and is now responsible for ensuring that diners enjoy complete satisfaction at the Dragon restaurant. Nemik sees hospitality as a tool for communication but realises that it is important for the staff to maintain a professional distance from the diners. He too has international experience having worked in various capacities in “White” Russia”, Ukraine and Turkey. Together Kelvin and Nemik have helped to reshape the kitchen and improve the décor under the guidance of project manager Jeremy Bastiaan. The most important changes however, have been the ones that are not material but profoundly affect the dining experience. These all relate to the training of staff, both in the kitchen and at the tables. Now all staff members have a better understanding of international standards of presentation, and the concept of “customer service”. “When diners come here for the first time, they are sometimes surprised by what they consider the smallness of the portions” continued Kelvin. “My idea is to make modern Chinese cuisine using traditional cooking methods, combined with European presentation. The challenge in Azerbaijan is to show our clients how to enjoy the food we present to them”.

Kelvin grew up in the restaurant business; helping his parents with their family concern in Malaysia from a young age. “We specialised in sea food cooking and I developed my skills very early” he told me. These were clearly of a high order as

Nemik is a native of Baku who like Kelvin, grew up in the food service industry. He and his two older brothers started a teashop together, when he was in his teens. He has

Sitting in the elegant dining room, I was impressed by the muted colours, contemporary design and general elegance of the environment. A venue that would not be out of place in Paris, New York or London.

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Homemade Smoked Salmon with Wasabi

mouth, opening up my taste buds for the delights to come.

I began my meal with an item from the “tasting menu” and something that will certainly become Kelvin’s signature dish; home smoked salmon with wasabi. This starter is smoked “at the table” under a glass dome filled with aromatic wood smoke. The swirling smoke, introduced through a hole in the side of the cover, provides a unique flavour to both the fresh salmon and the green salad garnish.

Crispy Aromatic Duck

Lifting the lid, my waiter allowed the smoke to puff into the air, immediately filling my nostrils with the smells of woodland in autumn. The wood smoke provided a tang to the garnish of lettuce and Granny Smith apple, enhanced by the fresh wasabi created flavours so subtle and far gentler than I had ever experienced. The salmon was succulent and melted in my

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I thought I knew everything there was to know about crispy aromatic duck, having eaten it at Chinese restaurants since I was seven years old, but I was wrong. Served on a thin slice of watermelon and topped with a salad garnish, this was something profoundly different. Have you have heard of food combining? It is the process whereby you put two unlikely foodstuffs together to astonish your taste buds. Here was an example you will remember for a long time. The very crispy duck is rich and flavoursome, the watermelon fresh and light. Separately they are good, together made me cry out loud “oh my God”. Try it and see what you think…

Chilean Sea Bass Glazed and marinated with two red wines, the sea bass is served with edamama beans, spinach and asparagus. The first thing to mention is the aroma of the marinade. It comes off the plate as strongly as the smell of an approaching storm in summer. Rich and dark, I was salivating before it touched my lips. The sea bass is fresh and meaty, looking more like steak than a piece of fish. When you cut into it however, the “meat” is white and flaky, filling your mouth with succulent flavour.

Wagyu Sirloin Beef

Recently discovered by western gourmets, Japanese Wagyu meat, also known as ‘Kobe’-style beef, has enjoyed increasing popularity over the past few years. It is considered by many to be the most tender, most succulent and tastiest meat in the world. According to Wikipedia “meat

FOOD from wagyū cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavour, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value”. Wagy%C5%AB Sourced from Australia, Kelvin’s wagya sirloin is dark, marbled and finely textured. If you have eaten good steak before that has a delicacy of flavour and melts in the mouth, then you will love this dish. My advice is that you should not order it “well done” because much of the flavour is in the marbling, and cooking at a high temperature will sear it out. A well cooked piece of Wagyu Sirloin beef (like any other high quality steak) should be brown on the outside, shading to pink in the middle.

Lemongrass Panacotta Have you ever seen food on your plate that you think by right should be hanging on the wall of an art gallery? No, then you haven’t seen Kelvin’s lemongrass panacotta. Panna cotta comes from the Italian for cooked cream, and is a dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar. It is then mixed with gelatine and allowed to cool until it is set. It is often served with wild berries, caramel, chocolate sauce or fruit coulis; a thick sauce made from puréed and strained fruits. Kelvin’s panacotta was smooth and creamy, delicately decorated with touches of coulis and a tiny sprig of mint. The fruits were gorgeous, ripe and full of taste. I particularly enjoyed the granadilla or passion fruit. I lived in Namibia prior to coming to Azerbaijan, where they grew in profusion in my garden. Taking a spoonful into my mouth, I was once again transported; this time to hot, dry Africa sitting on my stoop as the sun went down. If you are looking for an evening of sophisticated eating in an elegant environment, try Dragon and be transported to new worlds by the food on the end of your fork. ...And (importantly) the Mont Auriol merlot I quaffed with my meal was an additional treat. It is from their excellent cellar of 150 choice wines from France, Italy, Spain, Chile, Australia and the United States. Open for business lunches from 12 noon until 3pm Dinner Menu: 6pm until 11pm every day Telephone enquiries: +994-12493 1221 october 2011 | mag

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Cool But So Hot

Ice Lounge Food

by Secret Sarah

Think of ice and the image conjured up is generally one of cold, bleak and aloof but the kaleidoscope of colours that surround you as you enter the newly opened Ice Lounge are anything but.


In a beautiful location in Parc Ofiserov (Park of Officers) at 77 Samed Vurgun Street, the recently opened Ice Lounge could be anywhere in the world. In the midst of the lush greenery and sculptures of this recently renovated park, it is a great place to stop off for a margarita and a bite to eat. While there is no outdoor seating area, through the frosted glass and “ice”, you are still able to enjoy the greenery of the park while maintaining the exclusive feel that the bar allows.

Cocktails No need to worry about warming up in the Ice Lounge. The ever-changing prismatic effect of colour is not limited to the lights, but also to the extensive selection of cocktails ranging from 6 – 10 AZN and there is ample opportunity to try your favourites in frozen or traditional form, giving you the ultimate excuse to chill – in more ways than one. 60 | mag ine | october 2011

The menu offers dishes with a contemporary European twist. For starters, the salmon rolls were fresh and delicious. Salads were all under 10 AZN and the Greek salad we tried was a beautiful mix of fresh vegetables and parmesan cheese – if not your standard Greek salad, still delicious. We sampled a few mains including some heartier meat portions as well as vegetarian options. The mushroom risotto struck the perfect balance of al dente and creaminess. The menu is in Azerbaijani and Russian which could be frustrating for the newbies in Baku, but the attentive, amiable staff speak English and are more than happy to translate. This is a rather time consuming but rewarding experience once you taste the dishes. The medley of culinary options, which range from 6 – 12 AZN, accommodate both a wide range of palettes and budgets without forfeiting style.

The place for a “pink” party!

The Ice Lounge recently played host to a theme “Pink Party”, perhaps an indication of the direction it hopes to head towards – providing a nightspot for Baku’s hip and trendy. With an open, futuristic concept, there is little space on the dance floor, but this perhaps creates the intended intimate

atmosphere for the young and hip out to enjoy the latest on offer from Baku’s most recent nightspot. Beware if you are looking for a quiet dinner on the weekend. On certain evenings it can become the playground of the young fashionistas. It is recommended to check ahead to see if there is an event planned. This is not your typical park chai house but patrons are able to experience some of the traditional delights that Baku has to offer with the sheesha (or galliyan) that is available. This is a signature of the Ice Lounger in offering a glimpse of tradition within an uber- contemporary setting while managing to keep its prices within the midrange of Baku fine dining. Ice Lounge is open 6pm until 2am Monday to Thursday, 6pm until very late (or very early) Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Tel: 050-51614001 for more information.

The favourite food Landmark

Address: 31, Inshatcilar Avenue; (near Yeni Dunya supermarket) Tel: (012) 537 0632, Mob: (051) 940 4041 Fax: (012) 510 7576. E-mail:


AZ Cook book Food from Azerbaijan and Beyond! by Feride Buyuran

Hi Az Mag readers. I am Feride Buyuran the author of AZ Cookbook, a food blog dedicated to the food from Azerbaijan and beyond. I have always loved good food but I have not always cooked. I got interested in cooking after moving to California as a newly married Azerbaijani girl who had only a slight idea about how as she was spoiled with homemade goodies her mother prepared from scratch on a daily basis.

cooking with the rest of the world. The blog was born along with the idea to write a cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine. And now I am pleased to share my passion with the readers of AZ Magazine in a monthly column that will feature delicious recipes both from Azerbaijan and beyond, that I hope will make you race to the kitchen and cook for yourself and for your loved ones! Today on the menu is Azerbaijani stuffed cabbage leaves, kelem dolmasi.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Kelem Dolmasi / Kələm Dolması)

In California, I began to experiment in the kitchen, recreating familiar Azerbaijani tastes and learning from the repertoire of other cultures that California as an

ethnically diverse melting pot generously offers. Slowly but surely I honed my cooking skills and finally, I thought it was time to share my newly acquired love for

Stuffed cabbage leaves, or kelem dolmasi, is one of the many stuffed delicacies from the extended Azerbaijani dolma repertoire. Here a delicious mixture of succulent ground meat, fragrant rice and aromatic fresh herbs is wrapped around tender cabbage leaves to cook into succulent edible bundles. Pick cabbage with leaves not too tight so that they are easy to pull off. Serves 4 to 5

For the Stuffing:

500 g ground beef or lamb (or a combination) 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped (2 cups) 2 tablespoons tomato paste ½ cup medium grain rice, thoroughly washed and drained ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro ½ cup chopped fresh dill 2-3 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon salt 62 | mag ine | october 2011


¼ teaspoon pepper 1 large green cabbage (about 1 ½ kg) 2 tablespoons tomato paste (when in season, you can use 1 medium ripe tomato, peeled and grated, with juices and 1 tablespoon tomato paste) 1 ½ cup hot water 2 tablespoons butter First, prepare the stuffing. In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

Keep a medium saucepan at hand. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, using a sharp knife, cut out the rough center vein in the shape from the leaves so they will be easier to roll up. (You will need the cutouts later, so do not discard them.) If the leaves are too big, cut them in two along the center vein. Place about 2 heaped tablespoons of the stuffing in the middle of each leaf. Fold in the sides, then roll tightly. Arrange the reserved cut out veins on the bottom of the saucepan (you can also arrange the damaged and torn leaves, or unused leaves on the bottom too), then place cabbage rolls on top, close together and seam side down, making several layers. If using fresh

tomatoes along with tomato paste, toss a little in-between the layers. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1 ½ cups of hot water and pour over the top of the rolls. The water should come up to a little less than half the height of the rolls, but not more as they will release their own juices. Dot the top layer with butter. Place a small lid or ovenproof plate on top to keep the rolls tight and to prevent them from opening. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium or low and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the cabbage leaves are tender, the filling is cooked, and the liquid has reduced. Place the dolma on a serving platter and spoon some of the cooking liquid on top. Serve with bread. To find out more at Feride and the AZ Cookbook check out:

Preparing the cabbage leaves: Fill a large saucepan with water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. With a sharp knife, cut out the core of the cabbage and carefully pull off the leaves, keeping them whole and undamaged. Plunge the leaves into the boiling water in batches of 2-3, and blanch them for 2-3 minutes, until they have slightly softened and are pliable. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

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A little known blog which found its way onto the internet three years ago has become an internet sensation. An Azeri mother, who has relocated to English suburbia, is sharing her experiences and the cultural differences of coming from Baku, to daily life in a village just outside of London.

Holidays, Part I: Two and a Half Azeris on an English Train We did not get to go anywhere exotic this summer; just had a couple of weeks up in North Wales, where my in-laws live. Travelling up to North Wales is never fun, but with a tiny baby is quite painful. To be honest, we were lucky, as the baby did not cry or have one of her poo disasters. But, with having to stop and feed every three hours, we took over eight hours to get to my in-laws. So, being clever, you see...I decided that, actually, it would be faster and easier to go back on the train. You take back the car, I told Husband, and all the heavy stuff; and I will go back on the train, with my mother and the kids. Brave? Or stupid, I hear you think? Well, why not, I thought. I had my mother with me, I was not alone. Also, I have lived in this country for 11 years! I commuted to and from work; I travelled by trains lots of times. No problemo!

Wipes and Cardigans We got to the station in Bangor and the fun started. Our coach was coach K. With nobody on the platform to ask, we had to listen to the announcements and plan to position ourselves close enough to the right coach so we would have the time to board with: a pushchair, an older child, a small but inexplicably heavy suitcase, and two bags full of treats, colouring pens, a Nintendo DS (+ 5 games) wipes and cardigans. The trains in the UK do not mess about. You might get two minutes to board, not much longer. You take the bags I said to my mother, I get on and you pass me the pushchair....we planned everything 64 | mag ine | october 2011

in advance and finally found where to stand for the coach K, which, just for fun, was at the very front of the train and not at the back as any logic would suggest. Once on the train, I hesitated. I did see the letter K from outside, but for some reason, once I was inside the train, I was confused which way to turn. So I went to the right. Walking through the connecting...whatever those are called?- bits in between the coaches, I realized my mother was taking an awfully long time to catch up with us. She finally made it through, looking completely stressed out and sweaty. ‘I think!’, she shouted, ‘that coach K is on the other side’

Push the button! Okay, I said and we turned around, pushing through with the heavy pushchair with the sleeping baby, the bags and the older child....This time my mother was in front of me and to my horror, I noticed that, instead of pushing the button to release the automatic door, my mother was trying

to prise the doors open with her hands. Mama! -I exclaimed- Push the button! The buttons were not hidden. In fact, they had bright yellow light shining invitingly through them. But to my mum, using brutal force made more sense. No wonder she was looking exhausted, and took so long to catch up with us. After 2½ hrs of relatively peaceful journey, we needed to change to another train. I already had a bad feeling about this part as, according to my itinerary, we only had 12 minutes to change trains. I was, however, assured by family members that the connecting train was on the same platform. Just cross it and it will be on the other side, they said.

It was all about buttons I decided to use the toilet in advance. Just in case. Walking through from one carriage to another, I knew there were there somewhere. But I simply could not see them. I made my way through a few carriages and back, until I finally realized

INTERnational for the 17:13 train to Watford Junction? He only confirmed my suspicions. I had to run up the endless stairs across the bridge and down to another platform. All in less than 3 minutes. And so we ran. My mother, terrified at the sight of me running with the pushchair, kept up behind me with the bags and the suitcase, shouting at me to slow down and be careful, until I lost it and shouted back. And before you ask, yes I know they had lifts. But I had no time to find them. that the toilets were carefully designed into a curved wall that looked like... well, just a curved wall. There were no handles or obvious signs. Just a small drawing of a lady changing a baby and another button to push. Inside, it was all about buttons. A button to close the curved door, a button to lock it... ‘Don’t even try,’ I told my mother who was planning to visit the loos after me. ‘Honestly. Someone will catch you with your pants down as you will probably not find the way to look the door. That is if you are lucky enough to even find the toilets to start with!’ Mother decided she did not need to go after all.

Running late

But the worst part was still to come. The first train, despite all the clever buttons, was of course, running late. You have to remember we are still in the UK, after all. I stood at the door counting minutes. Please! I thought, hurry! And then- of course!-the connecting train was not leaving from the opposite platform. I did not know where the hell it was leaving from. All I knew was that I had no time left. Neither did I know the final destination of the train, which made the electronic boards with train times and platforms pointless. I had my suspicion, based on the departure time alone, that the train we needed was leaving from a platform far, far away. But it might not have been the right train. One thing that would be worse than missing our train was getting on the wrong one. The rest was all a blur. I saw the information button. I pressed it. it took a while for a man with a heavy Indian accent to answer. Please I begged trying not to sound hysterical. What platform do I need

We made it just seconds before the train took off. Our hair messed up, faces sweaty, and, as we say, hearts beating in our throats, we collapsed on seats. Considering that we did manage to get back, the baby never cried even once, the older child did not get lost on the way, and the pushchair arrived in one piece....I felt that the journey went pretty well.  But let me tell you. Never again!

Holidays, Part II: Miraculous Naftalan. While on holiday in Wales, I accidentally stepped on something. Maybe, it was a thorn from a plant, or a tiny fragment of a shell. I thought I pulled it out but clearly, not all of it came out. So, a couple of days ago, over a week after it had happened, the toe started to hurt. Quite badly, I have to say.   What do I do? I asked Husband, who had a medical background. Nothing he said. He spent years in medical school to be taught that most of the things get better on their own. But I could not just do nothing, you see. The problem was the toe was so sore I could not step on it. And, because I could not step on it, I was walking like a demented crab, which in turn made my whole leg and hip sore. So I had to get the frigging thing out, whatever it was.  Trying to dig it out did not work. ‘Told you, leave it!’ Husband said.

Magnesium Sulphate Paste I went to the chemist. Help, I cried. Not only my wrist is sore from carrying the car seat with the baby, not only my ankle is twisted, not only my left breast is about to drop off... but now I can’t even step on my big toe!

The chemist sold me a few things. First, she sold me magnesium sulphate paste, which was meant to draw the nasty thing out. Secondly, she sold me some cushioning plasters to protect the affected area. And thirdly, another plaster to hold it all in place. I got home and tried to fix myself a complicated bandage out of two types of plasters and the paste. It held on for about an hour and then fell off, leaving me still limping. Suddenly, my mother got very excited. ‘I completely forgot!’ she said, ‘I brought you some Naftalan! Put it on!’

Crude Oil Hold on a minute, Husband ears pricked up at the familiar word. That is just crude oil. It is smelly and disgusting and is not going to cure anything at all. It will just make the whole house stink. How could I believe in such silly witch medicine, he wanted to know. But I was desperate. Who knows? Maybe it has some therapeutic quality after all. And if it does not work, what is the worst that could happen? I would have a stinky toe for a day. I squeezed the paste on to the toe, bandaged it and went to bed. In the morning, after a shower, I looked at the toe.  A tiny black thorn was more visible now. I pulled on it, squeezed a little...and it came right out. I texted husband at work to let him know the Naftalan magic worked.  ‘It is a coincidence!’ he said. ‘Of course it is, sunshine’ I replied.  Husband was annoyed. He proceeded to explain to me how there was no way Naftalan paste could have helped me! As for me, I have no idea. It could be! That it was Naftalan that made the splinter come out? Or it might have been the magnesium sulphate that I’d put on earlier that day. It really depends on what sort of person you are, I guess. Whether you believe in magic or coincidence. Medicine or alternative medicine. Or a bit like me- slap a bit of both on and hope one of them would work. Honestly? I dont care which one did it.  I can walk again. But, just in case, I might hold on to that tube of Naftalan... october 2011 | mag

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Hugh Paxton:

Our Man in Bangkok Hugh Paxton is a prizewinning novelist and journalist with a very individual view of the world. Now, he has agreed to be AZ Magazine’s very own Man in Bangkok. In his first letter to readers in Baku, he introduces us to the city.

Hugh: A very good morning to you! Or as we say in this neck of the city, “Sawasdee krap!” Baku: Where the hell am I? Hugh: You’re in Bangkok courtesy of the AZ magazine in your hand. My name’s Hugh and I’ll be your guide for today’s morning tour of the capital city of Thailand. To give this sprawling metropolis its correct name takes time, but I’ll do it anyway. Here it comes! “Khrungtep mahkanakon amonratakosin mahintara…”

Baku: Any chance of an executive summary? Hugh: No chance at all. Stop interrupting! Now, where was I? Ah yes! “Khrungthep mahkanakon amonratakanosin mahinatra ayuthaya mahadilok popnopparat ratchatani burirom udomratchaniwet mahasathan amonpiman avatansathit sakhattaya witsanukamprasit.” Baku: Meaning? Hugh: “The Great City of Angels, the Repository of Divine Gems, the Great Land Unconquerable, the Grand and Prominent Realm, the Royal and Delightful City full of Nine Noble Gems, the Highest Royal Dwelling and Grand Palace, the Divine Shelter and Dwelling Place of Reincarnated Spirits.” Baku: Interesting. Is the rest of this tour going to be like this?

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Hugh: I can make no promises. Like what? Baku: At the moment I’m sitting on a sofa at 5 AM next to a little girl watching Dr. Who and a bunch of Daleks, while you keep nipping out to feed tree frog tadpoles. Hugh: It’s how we normally start the day in my house. This here’s Annabel. She’s eight years old, a big Doctor Who fan and my daughter. She’s started her own zoo here. And shall be joining us on the tour. God help us! Annabel: Can you be quiet Daddy! And this Baku guy’s sitting on my hedgehog! Baku: That’s hardly fair! I’m in Baku! Hugh: No you are not! Think yourself into this tour! You are here. With us. Sitting on my hedgehog… Annabel: It’s MY hedgehog!

INTERnational for 30 minutes. (Two hours later) Baku: Are we there yet? Hugh: Would that we were. But we aren’t. Taxi driver: If I was a woman I could entertain you. Women are lucky. Am I interrupting? Hugh: Yes. May I draw your attention to some interesting features about this taxi to enhance your authentic monsoon flooded Bangkok traffic congestion experience. It has a functioning meter and is cheap. It is powered by gas making it potentially explosive in the event of a major collision, it smells very strongly of garlic and the taxi company’s owner has attached stickers advising patrons of what is, or is not, permissible in his taxi. Baku: Yes. I was wondering about the stickers. No firearms, no smoking, no eating, no drinking, no dogs, no expulsions of natural gas, yes, they’re straightforward although the last one is a new one on me. But these last three?

Hugh: Whatever. Outside heavy rain is pelting the windows and has been doing it virtually none stop for the last three months. Most of the country is under water and there is every possibility that Bangkok will flood later today adding interest to our tour. Aha! Our taxi has arrived! With luck the driver won’t be insane, flying high on crystal meth to help him finish a 48 hour shift, or feeling chatty. … Taxi driver (by way of introduction): I have a weak heart. Am I interrupting? I want to be a woman. Baku: Ermm… Hugh: We’re in luck! Insane, high AND chatty!

to feed your puffer fish on the Sky Train! But they still refused us entry. We had to take a taxi and it took four hours! Baku: I used to think Baku was a hardship post. This tour of yours is really putting things in perspective. Taxi driver: I have no wife. Hugh: Time’s up! Your morning tour’s over. Thanks for participating. Baku: That looks like a massage parlour involving fish and young women. Hugh: My God! Miracle! We’re here! Are we here yet! Yes, Baku! Sharp eyesight! The tour has re-started – we will commence with the fish nibbling feet, we move on to the leg massage and then you can go upstairs. Two Hours Later: Baku: That only cost fifteen bucks and I’ve just been to Heaven. Annabel: They refused to massage my hedgehog.

Hugh: No durian fruit because they smell like latrines. No copulation because that would be distracting. And no water buffalo. In all honesty I’ve never seen anybody trying to insert a water buffalo into a Bangkok taxi. The guy runs a tight cab.

Hugh: We don’t want to keep our taxi waiting.

Taxi driver: I cry watching sad movies.

Hugh: I shall be showing you Bali in the next edition.

Baku: Are we there yet? Hugh: FYI Bangkok has over 60,000 registered restaurants, well over 100,000 pavement food vendors operating mobile stalls, and you can sample cuisine from all four corners of the globe. Annabel: The Globe’s round and doesn’t have corners. Are we there yet? Hugh: Et tu Annabelus? No we are not there yet. What’s that in your bag? I hope it isn’t a hedgehog!

Baku: Are we there yet?

Annabel: There aren’t any taxi stickers saying no hedgehogs.

Hugh: You really are new to Bangkok, aren’t you? We’ve only been stuck in traffic

Hugh: There weren’t any stickers saying you can’t take a plastic bag full of maggots

Baku: I’d rate this tour as sub-optimal going on sh..e. Where are we going in the next edition?

Baku: I’ll be sending my mother in law. She’s been dead for eight years. Hugh: I know the perfect place for her. There’s a small cove in a volcano crater. They mummify the dead. Annabel/Baku: Can we go home now? Two hours later: Annabel/Baku/Hedgehog/Taxi driver (totally lost), Hugh: Are we there yet? If you would like to read more by Hugh Paxton visit:

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Peloponnesian Adventure

Part 2 & 3:

Ancient Olympia by Steve Hollier

I’ve visited a lot of ancient Greek sites in my time but few have affected me as much as Ancient Olympia in the heart of the Peloponnesian peninsula. Set in a wooded glade in the lea of a green mountain, Olympia is everything you might expect a site of world historical significance to be. Not only were the Olympic games held here from at least 776BC but it was also the site of an ancient wonder of the world, the temple of Zeus that contained a fabulous statue created by Phidias. It was Phidias who also designed the statue of Athena within the Parthenon at the acropolis in Athens.

Not a good start to the day… We had to bide our time before entering the sacred enclosure however, as a Mexican lady in the queue for tickets in front of us was convinced the ticket seller was trying to cheat her and her party of their entrance money. For half an hour she kept repeating “why would I come all this way to steal from you?” The bottom line was she thought that she had paid for twelve tickets and been issued ten. Eventually, the manager was called and all the money 68 | mag ine | october 2011

collected and ticket stubs were counted. As this was done, the queue grew from a few people to several dozen. More than one person grumbled and said “she wants two more tickets for her money, let’s all put in one-Euro each and buy them for her!” Unfortunately, our desire to solve the problem was not matched by our

organisational ability and this international crowd of visitors just stood in the hot sun and grumbled, much like a bunch of good British citizens. Perhaps the British influence on world culture is rather more profound than I had previously thought… As expected, no errors were found but still the lady called for justice and demanded police involvement. Personally,

international circumcision in the Jewish community was merely the removal of the tip of the foreskin, so enterprising Greek speaking Jews would pull forward the remaining skin and literally tie a knot around what remained. Once spoil-sport Jewish priests discovered the practice, they started removing the entire foreskin of newborn boys; a practice that continues to this day. Anyway, I digress. These days there is not much left of the Temple of Zeus other than the steps up to the platform on which it was built, a series of column bases and one rather magnificent reconstructed pillar. More remains of the Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus although unfortunately, no nymphs were in evidence as I passed by. Also, I was rather taken by the romantic remains of the South Stoa or covered walkway. Another building on the site that I admired was the bath house, complete with wall mounted heating system although in the heat of a Greek summer, it seemed quite unnecessary.

A neo-Spartan burns his feet

My neo-Spartan friend James was in his element and decided to do quick circuit of the Olympic running track; in his bare feet, on a hot afternoon…

I am a believer in cock-up rather than conspiracy at the root of this kind of dispute and finally another window opened and we gratefully purchased our tickets.

Women were the first Olympians So long as you were a man and could speak Greek, you could take part in the Ancient Olympic Games however, one of the earliest recorded contests was a foot race for women who competed for the position of a priestess to the Gods. In latter times, men from

across the known world competed for the status and honour of beating all comers. In ancient times all competition was undertaken in the nude and as such was a celebration of aesthetics as much as muscle. I remember reading once that anyone who was “mutilated” could not participate in the Games and circumcision was considered a mutilation. At that time,

He assumed the position of an athlete about to fly around the circuit and took off at a fair lick. A hundred meters out, a shrill whistle blew a warning and then another. James looked in trouble. He slowed down, he stopped. He got off of the burning, sandy running track and on to the grass. Ooh! The blisters! But they were received in a noble cause and provided a lasting memory of his visit to the site. A lady who was in attendance to prevent the burning of enthusiastic visitor’s feet came over to make sure James was not in need of a doctor and told us that on occasion, protoOlympians would have to visit the local hospital where their burns would be treated with a modern salve. The Olympic festival continued to be held at the site until the last Olympiad in 393 AD, after which a decree from the spoil-sport Christian emperor, Theodosius I implemented a ban and that the end of the october 2011 | mag

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international Olympics that until the resurrection of the modern games in Athens during 1896. And so we returned to the villa by the sea at Filiatra where we spent the evening reliving our trip to Olympia, eating, drinking and looking forward to another day of site-seeing in one of the most beautiful parts of Greece…

The day off or chats on art, religion, politics and sex It was the cynical British novelist Evelyn Waugh who once said “don’t give your opinions about Art and the Purpose of Life. They are of little interest and, anyway, you can’t express them”. He said that with regard to novel writing but to be honest in books as in life, I beg to differ. There is nothing I enjoy more than reading about and discussing just these topics. I had just finished Juliet Naked, Nick Hornby’s latest darkly comic novel about failed relationships, pop music and sex [or the lack of it] and wondered if James’s mother Cindy had something in English I could read. A few minute later she handed me a battered copy of Graham Greene’s classic The Heart of the Matter, a book I hadn’t read but according to the sleeve notes was one of his best.  

Opposites repel…

English pancakes

Greene, God and guilt

I felt the need to make some sort of contribution to the day, so made English pancakes for everybody at breakfast time and served them up the traditional English way with honey and lemon. I told a story of finding pancake syrup in Azerbaijan that contained “2% maple syrup!” Actually, several days later I made pancakes for James in Baku and he tried it out. It wasn’t the best he had ever tasted but he did think it was at least O.K.

As the hours slipped by, we became “mellow” and with the cicadas sounding in our ears, we one-by-one went off to bed…

Greene and Waugh had been contemporaries at Oxford back in the 1920′s. Both became novelists and converted to Catholicism but while Waugh got drunk, had homosexual affairs and did no work, Greene [by Waugh’s account] “looked down on us (and perhaps all undergraduates) as childish and ostentatious. He certainly shared in none of our revelry”.

The villa where we were staying was a few paces from the sea and throughout the day James, his dad Dave and I would slip into the warm and tranquil waters to cool down. Dave had bought a kids snorkel the day before and we took turns dipping under the water to view sea-urchins and the occasional fish that passed by in the clear waters of the rocky coast, strewn with lava left over from some ancient, cataclysmic volcanic explosion.

Graham Green was a highly intelligent but depressive man who seemed to revel in his feelings of sinfulness and guilt. He was highly sexed and though married for most of his life carried on affairs with a variety of women and visited prostitutes from his late teens into his seventies. His books often have at their heart, themes that explore suffering and unhappiness. The Heart of the Matter is no exception. 

I have long had an interest in American politics and as the day progressed our relaxed conversations meandered between the state of the American economy, the several odd Presidential candidates thrown into the public gaze thanks to televised debates and the astonishing Presidency of George W. Bush. On that subject I will say no more…

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As the sun sank in a fiery blaze below the Western horizon, we moved to the upstairs balcony and drank ouzo as we continued to discuss genetics, the existence of God and Catholic guilt. Graham Greene would have enjoyed the conversation as much as Waugh would have detested it.

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You Can Speak Azerbaijani! by Colleen MacDonell

Lesson 1

Ever passed by a women sitting on a Baku sidewalk with the reddest tomatoes you have ever seen? The juiciest nectarines? The darkest cherries? Fresh mint that smells divine? Did you think – Wow, I would love to buy some of those! But did you just keep on walking? Maybe it’s time to learn some Azerbaijani! It can be Intimidating English is not commonly spoken in Baku, especially by street vendors or fruit and veg sellers in small shops. Let’s face it, even when shopping for items in a pharmacy or grocery store, there may be no one who can communicate in English. This can be intimidating for an English speaker with no Azerbaijani. But guess what? It is even more intimidating for a local Bakuvian who may not encounter many foreigners. You will immediately set people at ease with even a few words of Azerbaijani. In fact, if people realize that you cannot speak Russian, but do know a bit of the native tongue, they will be even more impressed. It shows that you have made a conscious decision to learn the language of the people. My experience over the past four years in Baku, as a rank beginner with only a few numbers and food items to my vocabulary to my current position of conversational Azerbaijani, I can testify to the amazing power of even “bir az Azərbaycanca.” People in shops will be astounded. They will laugh. They will smile. They will treat you like a prodigy! I remember going to a sports shop to buy an exercise ball. One very nice young fellow helped me to find one. But when I turned around, all three young people working in the shop wanted to talk to me. A foreigner who can speak Azerbaijani! They were all smiling and saying “Maşallah!” (Bravo! or How lovely!) Believe me,

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Language they had a taxi organized in two seconds flat to take me and my big red exercise ball home. Service with a smile. They were happy, I was happy. Life is good. Some people argue that it is better to learn Russian, since more countries have Russian speakers than Azerbaijani speakers. This seems logical for those who hope to travel in the region. But I think there are many reasons to choose Azerbaijani over Russian.

Why bother learning Azerbaijani? I have a personal bias for Azerbaijani, simply based on the beauty of the sounds in “Azərbaycanca.” The first time I heard people speaking Azerbaijani at my workplace, I mistook it for French, and

hurried down the hall to have a conversation. It was only when I got closer that I realized that the melodious sounds were not French, but something new. I fell in love with the sound of the language, and later with the sound of the songs and the music. It has been a love affair from the start. However, in a less romantic vein, let’s consider a few crucial points. Azerbaijani uses a Latin alphabet, so it is not a steep learning curve to learn to write and type in Azerbaijani. Russian is completely different. Azerbaijani has no gender; Russian does. Russian has 8 case endings… need I say more? Maybe not, but I will. Go to Istanbul and they will understand you when you speak Azerbaijani. They will even compliment you on your cute Bakuvian accent! And take note – I have had friends who have

Numbers in Azerbaijani bir = one iki = two (note that people from outside of Baku may pronounce this “ichi”) üç = three dörd = four (final d is pronounced more like a t) beş = five altı = six yeddi = seven (second d is pronounced more like a t) səkkiz = eight doqquz = nine on = ten

had private lessons in Russian for several years and still were not comfortable speaking Russian in shops. After just a few lessons from me, I have had colleagues venturing out into shops to make some purchases and use their Azerbaijani.

Let’s Start at the very beginning! Numbers So if you are inspired to give Azerbaijani a try, where do you begin? Numbers. Learn your numbers from one to one hundred and you can shop for anything. Fingers can point to items you want. You don’t need to know the names of fruit to buy them. But when quantities and prices need to be negotiated, fingers can’t do all the work. Take a look at this chart of numbers. Then access my Azerbaijani language learning blog to hear what they sound like.

Now all you need are the tens and you can make any number from one to 100! 20 = iyirmi 30 = otuz 40 = qırx (this looks difficult but just pronounce as grrr and people will understand you) 50 = əlli (make sure this has two syllables, əl-li, not əli) 60 = altmış 70 = yetmiş 80 = səksən 90 = doxsan 100 = yüz

For some audio instruction on numbers, visit: Armed with just these numbers, you can shop in Azerbaijan. Go ahead. Be brave. Enjoy the nectarines! Nuş olsun! (Bon appétit in Azerbaijani). Yaxşı yol! (Good luck!)

Colleen has been living in Baku for the past four years. She loves just about everything about Baku – the fresh fruit and veg, the friendly peple, the beautiful music, and of course, the melodious sounds of Azerbaijani. Colleen is learning to play mugham, folk tunes, songs, and opera on the local stick fiddle (kamancha). She is a teacher-librarian and educational writer who hails from Nova Scotia, Canada. october 2011 | mag

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BOOKS & by Elizabeth Collins

Chick Lit

Hundreds of new books are published every month all around the world. Some of them will be remembered and critically acclaimed but the majority will end up being forgotten or just pulped. The ‘classics’; novels, plays and poetry that have survived the test of time despite being written and published hundreds of years ago, remain on Baku book shop shelves (and yes in English, and yes at resonable prices).

What is Chic Lit?

‘Chick lit’ is a global industry, which deals with the topic of ‘the modern woman’ usually in a light- hearted, humorous manner. Although usually there are romantic elements to the story they often focus on themes of career, family, friends, life and death, and an obsession with fashion and Carrie Bradshaw. This month we look at Ulrika Jonsson’s debut novel (will this woman stop at nothing), Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil wears Prada.

The Importance of Being Myrtle

by Ulrika Jonsson Although classified in the ‘chick- lit’ genre the novel does contain some very dark, depressing material. Myrtle’s husband Austin dies suddenly one morning on a bus and Mytle’s life comes to a standstill. The emotionless marriage she has 74 | mag ine | october 2011

been trapped in for nearly 40 years has left her a broken woman but even when she is given her freedom why does she still feel trapped? She has 3 daughters who remain a mystery to her; one cold hearted, one cruel and one with a secret. With few friends it is Myrtle’s task to rebuild her life and her existence. But first she must learn the truth of the past before she can look to the future. Always a risk reading a ‘celebrity’s’ novel but so far the reviews have been kind!

A Doll’s House

by Henrik Ibsen A Doll’s House made it’s Scandinavian debut in 1879. It is a 3 Act play written entirely in prose to the reflect the realism of the story. Although far different to the ‘chick lit’ we know today, it does focus on the empowerment of women. It discusses the rights women should be entitled to; the themes in the play lead to Ibsen being greatly critisised and provoked uproar within the litetary world, as many people felt he was ruining the sanctity of marriage and he was highlighting the failures of society – which many would have preferred to leave unexamined. The story follows Nora Helmer’s life over a short period at christmas time. A housewife who deals with the day to day running of the household; cleaning, cooking and caring for the children but Nora has a secret and if revealed would change the her life and that of her family forever. Definitely an easy read, written by a

man who was ahead of his time. Criticised greatly at the outset but to this day can be found performed around the world and acclaimed with changing the face of theatre and attitudes towards women forever.

The Devil wears Prada

by Lauren Weisberger This best selling novel was released in 2003 and was given great reviews. It follows the story of Andrea Sachs, a small town girl with big city dreams. After leaving university, Andrea gets the opportunity to be interviewed by Miranda Priestly, the world renowned editor of ‘Runway’ magazine. After being employed by Priestly, Andrea soon begins to realise she has been transported into a world of skinny women, fashion addicted men and expected to meet astonishing demands from her new boss. Andrea has a decision to make; continue with the job which will provide her with a long term career and long term respect within the industry, but lose people in her life that are important to her or, give up the job which is driving her insane but will return her to reality. It portrays a heirachy of women that although is adddressed in a light hearted manner it reveals the brutality of what a workplace full of women can be like. An easy read, highly humorous it will not fail to entertain.


MOVIES by Elizabeth Collins

Chick Flicks

Chick Flick’s sometimes seem to dominate our screens and to be honest most of them are complete dross; weak story lines, insecure acting and small budgets that often result in poor quality movies. But now and again there is a film of this genre that makes very worthwhile viewing and stays in viewers mind’s longer than the 90 minutes or so it is on the screen. Baku is abundant with DVD shops and offers movies that are not only new releases but those which have also stood the test of time, being popular for many generations.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh Classified as lengendary in the movie world, it is a film that recent generations may have overlooked. The events of the film surround the American Civil War. Vivien Leigh in her debut movie role, played Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern Belle born into a wealthy, high society family

who enjoys the attention of any man she encounters. Her fabulouus lifestyle however is destroyed with the onset of war; she sees her home and all the privilidges she knows destroyed. As a powerful and determined woman, she vows to regain the life she once had, no matter who she hurts and whose lives she has to destroy to get what she wants. A wonderful film with a modern day power, but nearly 4 hours in length – set aside a whole evening (and a box of tissues)!

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey Every woman has seen this film... surely? The love and dancing scenes are timeless and instantly recognisable. The film follows the story of ‘Baby’ Houseman

moves on and off the dancefloor. Her life suddenly changes as she becomes involved in a world far different to anything she has ever known before. Best known for the Oscar winning song (I’ve had) the time of my life this film is a story of dancing, breaking barriers and of self discovery.

Jane Eyre (2011)

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Micheal Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench “A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret.” Charlotte Brontes’ 1847 novel has once again hit the big screen. Over the years Jane Eyre has been dramtised again and again telling the story of a young orphaned girl who searches for a better life. This interpretation however takes a more daring approach to the original story and with a star studded cast, it is definitely not a film to miss.

(Grey) who has her life planned out for her; she will go to college, join the Peace Corps, marry a doctor (hopefully a man just like her father) and then live happily ever after. But when she goes on holiday with her parents and her older sister, she finds some extra curricular activities of her own. On first sight of the gorgeous Johnny Castle (Swayze), she is enchanted by his october 2011 | mag

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Amy King Peace Corps Volunteer

Girl’s Football in Azerbaijan 2012 will see a Eurovision take over of Baku.Preparations for the international singing competition are well underway and a huge number of Azerbaijanis and expats are excited about the competition. In the meantime, Baku is preparing for another competition, one with much less promotion and that lives in the enormous shadow of Eurovision. The Under-17 Women’s World Football Championships will be held in Baku in the summer of 2012.

regions of Azerbaijan. These teams would be the pool of players that the national team would eventually be choose from. However, most of the girls on the national team are still from Baku, not the regions. From my own experience, it is important to start young, and a U15 league would not be good enough to really implement a successful girls’ soccer program in Azerbaijan. I decided to attempt to hold football awareness camps for young women in different regions.

First step on the road to champions was to make a team. Yes, Azerbaijan won the bid to host the tournament without having an actual U17 team to enter it! And yes, this newly formed team will now have an automatic bid to play in the games. Right after winning the bid, the Azerbaijan Football Federation Association (AFFA) started building their girls’ team. First they hired Sissy Raith as head coach of the then newly formed Women’s U15 national team. Raith comes from a strong background 76 | mag ine | october 2011

playing for the German Women’s National team in and a coaching career that includes Bayern Munich. I got the opportunity to meet Raith and tour the AFFA facilities last summer and it was obvious that the Azerbaijani U17 national team had a great captain at the helm. Next, they formed a team of Bakuvian girls who they could train to play football in time for the 2012 tournament. They also put together a U15 girls’ league with teams in 16 different

When I first found that Azerbaijan had won the bid, I was shocked that the country would hold a tournament of this magnitude. I worked last summer on a football project with the United States Embassy and USAID‘s Sports United program and during the project, girls and boys were invited out to the football training sessions with two American soccer professionals John Cone and Cindy Parlow. Parlow was one of my hero’s growing up as a young soccer player. She was a member of a US Women’s National team that came first in the 1999 Women’s World Cup and earned a gold medal in 2000. I thought for sure girls would want to come out and meet her, but of the 300 kids that came out to the training sessions, I saw maybe three dozen girls, many of those from Baku. After touring the AFFA facilities, meeting Raith, and participating in the Sports


United project, I began my own push to bring girls’ soccer to the regions. Personally, I have been in Azerbaijan for 2 years now as a Youth Development volunteer with the United States Peace Corps. I came here with a strong desire to play soccer with girls, and it took me a year to figure out all the logistics of how to get them to come out to play with me. I have been playing with 15-year-old boys in my site of Goranboy while the girls have watched from the sidelines. When I invite them to play in a separate game, I was only able to get them out to the field in small numbers. In the regions of Azerbaijan, girls only play pick-up volleyball. There is no organized soccer for girls. There is no organized type of any sport for girls in the regions of Azerbaijan. When I was a kid, my parents had me in softball, soccer, basketball and even gymnastics. I could have chosen ice hockey, track or even American football for that matter. I had everything at my fingertips. When I got to Azerbaijan, I knew that I wanted to give the girls here some of that, even if it was only a small portion of the opportunity I had as a child. I started my Azerbaijani girls’ soccer coaching in Lankeran. In that region, I was introduced by a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) to one of the most wonderful people I have met in Azerbaijan. His name is Xalid Muellim and he is the girls’ soccer coach for the Lankeran U15 girls’ team. I have been working with him and his team for the past year and a half. He is patient and kind with the girls, and one of the few

people I have met in the regions that is really trying to strengthen girls soccer in his community. Last summer I did a soccer camp with the girls, and by the time this year rolled around, I wanted to step up the parameters of the camp. It was great to do the camp with just the girls who already had played, but I wanted more girls to get the opportunity to participate. With the help of a young Azerbaijani woman who studies in the U.S., and three other Peace Corps Volunteers, we wrote a grant and obtained funding from Access Bank, one of the sponsors of AFFA. With this funding we were able to buy new soccer balls, bibs, and small goals for the program. We invited other girls from the community to come out to the camp and try out a new sport. Girls from the local orphanage were especially interested in playing and we were thrilled to have them. In total, about 30 girls showed up to camp on the first day. I was shocked because up until then, I hadn’t been able to get more than 5 girls at a time out to play soccer in my town. We split the girls into two groups, those who hadn’t played before and those who had. I took the new players and two PCV’s who had coached before (one had played college soccer) took those who had played. With the experienced girls, advanced training took place. They worked on things they had never worked on before camp, and showed a definite improvement as a team as the week went on. Working with the new players, I concentrated on keeping it fun,

and showing the kids that soccer can be entertaining to play. We played different skills-based games and I taught them the basics of how to dribble, pass and shoot. The last day of the camp, the Azerbaijani media came out and covered our small sided tournament. They asked me about girls’ soccer in Azerbaijan, and why we were having the camp. They seemed confused as to why we would have a camp with girls without it resulting in a competition, so I explained that we want the girls to live healthy lifestyles and have something to do in their spare time that is productive and fun. I also explained that to have a strong national team, one must have a strong and broad national program. Starting from young players up to the national team, the coaches must be able to choose from a wide pool of players to end up with the best team. Now that the camp is over and done with and was a success in the Lankaran community, I want the program to spread to other regions. The important thing about this camp is to spread the news that there is a newly developed AFFA girls’ soccer league in Azerbaijan, that girls from the region can join, and that soccer is a valuable tool to develop strong and healthy girls in Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, I am leaving Azerbaijan in November, but I am passing the reigns to another Peace Corps Volunteer to continue this work in soccer camps. The hope is that even more areas of Azerbaijan receive knowledge about girls’ soccer and that we can get more children to play. Azerbaijan has a huge opportunity to promote and build a soccer program with the U17 championships around the corner, and I and other Peace Corps volunteers are more than willing to be spread the word. For more information visit:

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The World Amateur Boxing Championships and Olympic Qualifiers The results of the final matches that took place at the Heydar Aliyev Sport and Concert hall that ended on the 10th October. Men’s Light Flyweight (less than 49Kg) Shiming ZOU  v  Jong SHIN Zou Shiming of China continue his dominance of the light-flyweight division as he won 20-11 , against South Korea’s Shin Jong.  Shiming won his 3rd World Championshipsafter winning in 2005 and 2007. Men’s Flyweight (less than 52Kg) Misha ALOIAN v Andrew SELBY The 2009 Bronze medallist Misha Aloian struck gold as he beat Andrew Selby, 1312. Selby is the winner of the European championships. Aloain also won a close match with American Raushee Warren in the semis. Men’s Bantamweight (les than 56Kg) Luke CAMPBELL  v Lazaro ALVAREZ Former AIBA Cadet champion Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba is now a world champion. He beat the 2008 European champion Luke Campbell of England in the finals. Alvarez is one of the 3 Cubans who are in the finals. Men’s Lightweight (less than 60Kg) Vasyl LOMACHENKO  v Yasnier TOLEDO 2009 Featherweight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko won the 2011 Lightweight gold medal after beating Cuban Yasneir Toledo Lopez. Lomachenko is the first of 5 Ukranians in the finals. He jump-started the Ukrainian gold rush by beating the highly ranked Cuban. 

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Men’s Light Welterweight (less than 64Kg) Denys BERINCHYK  v Everton dos SANTOS  PanAmerican Games Silver Medallist Everton dos Santos of Brazil outclassed Denys Berinchy of Ukraine. Brazil won 1 gold and 1 bronze in this year’s world amateur championships. Men’s Welterweight (less than 69Kg) Serik SAPIYEV  10 v 16   Taras SHELESTYUK Ukraine won its second Gold medal with the 16-10 victory of Taras Shelestyuk over the 2007 and 2007 winner Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan. Men’s Middleweight (less than 75Kg) Ryota MURATA  v Levgen KHYTROV  Ukraine got its third gold when Levgen Khytrov beat upset-conscious Japanese Ryota Murata, 24-22. Men’s Light Heavyweight (less than 81Kg) Julio la CRUZ  v Adilbek NIYAZYMBETOV Cuba’s Julio la Cruz won the second gold medal for Cuba as he survived Adilbel Niyazymbetov, 17-13. Cuba had a modest 2 gold 1 silver haul in this year’s world championships. Men’s Heavyweight (less than 91 Kg) Oleksandr USYK v  Teymur MAMMADOV Usyk upgraded his 2009 silver medal into

a 2011 gold medal as he beat local hero Teyur Mammadov in the heavyweight finals. Mammadov reigning Euorpean champ. Usyk’s gold made Ukraine the biggest winner in Baku with 4 golds in 5 final matches. Men’s Super Heavyweight (more than 91Kg) Anthony JOSHUA  v Magomedrasul MEDZHIDOV Medzhidov silenced the critics of the rankings here in Baku as he won the only gold medal for Azerbaijan in a very close 22-21 victory over England’s Anthony Joshua. With thanks to Caloy’s Sports Blog: http://caloysports.wordpress. com/2011/10/09/aiba-world-boxingchampionships-final-results/

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by Bashir Shaffi

Baku Pool League Billiards, snooker, pool and darts are known to be the two most famous indoor games played in pubs & restaurants around the world. Although billiards and snooker are more appealing to Europeans, pool has gained popularity in the United States and now in Baku, Azerbaijan! I remember seeing the first pool table in Baku way back in 1990’s. That was in Charlie’s bar, later to be joined by one in the Shakespeare pub. Darts, on the other hand lost its attraction during this period, due to a dwindling number of expats prepared to take up their “arras” and a lack of pubs that could maintain the quality of their dart boards. Old Marshall’s did have a fabulous board, good followers and a home team but enthusiasm waned, when the business shifted to the present location...  

A few basics Due to growing number of pubs in Baku that recognize the enthusiasm of pool players, the game has swelled and so have the pool teams. The Captain of Marshall’s pool team Allan Sharp along with John O’Hare, enlightened me about the rules and specifics of this up and coming game that not only attracts the gents but appeals the ladies too. The present pool season started last month and a total of 28 teams have entered the league. Some pubs have two teams and some only one but it is compulsory for each team to have at least one female player. Before the start of the season, all participating bars were inspected by the committee to ascertain the quality of pool tables, balls and cues etc. Each pool team has to register the players with the committee and it is not allowed for

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one player whether male or female to play for two teams during the season. However in extreme circumstances, any player can transfer him or herself to other team but such transfers are restricted to only once during the season.

Some lick their fingers, others wipe their tears Last year’s championship trophy of group “A”, was won by a team from Marshall’s bar. So far this year, 3 teams are tying with a maximum of 12 points each. These are Marshall’s, Corona Bar and Tortuga. Marshalls and Tortuga are known for their friendly rivalry, and whenever these two giants encounter one another, spectators are besieged by the canny moves and superb shots of battling players. It is not surprising to witness moisturizing eyes or ear to ear smiles during such campaigns. To make each event sensibly attractive, the host team provides nourishments for home as well as visiting team. Those bars that do not have ample catering facilities normally go for finger food, whereas Marshall’s cuisine always consists of a curry dish along with rice and bread. It is quite a sight to see players licking their fingers while others wipe away their tears! But then these are the usual reactions to a tangy meal during valiant clashes of diverse crusaders.

To maintain and document proper scoring of all 28 teams must be a gallant exertion. Mr. Darrell Cox should be commended for his commitment to the game as well as to the participating teams. To catalogue the participants, invite, guide, discuss and incorporate the rules for Baku League is definitely not an easy task. I believe all committee members are devotees to this superb and entertaining indoor game which is gathering fame among local gentry and ladies alike. For more information about the Baku pool league contact Bashir Shaffi on: 055-3288022

Due to increase in numbers the British School in Baku is wishing to appoint more teachers. The school has students from the age of 5 to 18 and teachers using the English National Curriculum, leading to A levels from Cambridge University. Applicants should ideally be native speakers of English, with relevant teaching experience.

If interested please contact us on Tel: (+99412) 465 80 86 or E-mail:


British Business Group

The BBG met for their September meeting at the Hyatt hotel on the 21st September. The special event was sponsored by global leader in power and automation technologies ABB.

Arzu Hadjiyeva, Emilya Aliyeva & Turgan Teymurov

Elchin Aliyev & Mustafa Temiz

Bahar Yolchiyeva & Robert Hancock

Eric & Pat Barnes

Jim Gillett, Neil Grant & David Massie

John Patterson & Morgan Phillips

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Irmela Heinsius & Tom Deevy

Peter & Vanda Ward

Nurana Muradova & Rena Zeynalova

Viladi Maniyev & Ismail Askerov

Stephen Maltby & Ismat Abu Shinab

Cathrine Inglehearn & Anna Gimborn

Hera & Simon Tonge

Puneet Tandon, Judith van Daalen & Michael Hartley

Nigar Namazova & Rauf Hasanov

Sofiya Salimova, Sevda Mammadova & Lala Bilandarli

Richard Parlour & Francis Mathew

The British Business Group acted as hosts to the British trade delegation led by Member of the European Parliament Robert Walter.

Paul Frogley & Peter Jones

Yunis Salayev, Alum Bati & Nurana Muradova

Ulviya Nuriyeva & Paul Gielen

Virginia Nelson & Janet Dutnall

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AZ Magazine - October 2011  
AZ Magazine - October 2011  

AZ Magazine is a free, high-quality, stylish and glossy monthly magazine. This magazine has the look and texture of an international publica...