Baku Baku

Baku Baku...what's it like as a city emerges from communism?

Baku Baku

Fur coats
Fur hats
Black coats, slow walks

Boulevards wide
Boulevards long
People throng, but don't collide

"Yavash...Yavash..." I was gently told
Arm in arm, women stroll with dignity and charm

Endless sea
Endless wind
Weather brisk and buildings drab

Gray on gray
And grayer still
Here and there a blue tile or two

Dirty windows
Dirty stairs
Without enough manat, who really cares?

Hope and despair
Hope and despair
Slowly, slowly, emerging to where?

Am I in Russia?
Am I in Spain?
When, oh when, will He begin to reign?

Baku, Azerbaijan

What happens to the life of a country after seventy years of communism? Azerbaijan, formerly part of the Soviet Union, today is once again its own country.

Slowly emerging from Soviet exploitation (as Azeri citizens describe it), Baku Baku -- the oil rich capital, situated on the Caspian Sea, is showing signs of new life and hope.

Buildings are being repaired and sandblasted. American oil companies are investing. The Latin alphabet is replacing Russian script. English is rapidly becoming the second language, instead of Russian. The word "hope" crops up often when discussing Azerbaijan's future.

My hostess, Filia, is a public school English teacher (above in fur coat). My husband, Mark and I met her son, Elnur, in Istanbul two years previous to my visit to Baku. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I'd never even heard of Azerbaijan, although the name Baku was familiar....I couldn't have told you which country's capital is was.

Even Microsoft Works, as I type, doesn't have Azerbaijan in its dictionary. I was thankful I knew how to spell Azerbaijan before going to Baku Baku, however, because the folks at the TV station wanted me to sign the map-booklets I gave them, and I wrote "God bless ....(name) and Azerbaijan!"

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