Every time i said people from Turkey that i will go to Baku this summer, I saw the same surprised and unsatisfied expression on their faces. As a common stereotype, Turks and Azeri people have the same culture and a turkish girl can’t see any interesting thing in Azerbaijan. But if it would be true, how could i write a hole article about Baku? This article is consacrated only to some of diffirences between these two country. Let’s continue to read and think about it again 🙂
I started to see beautiful distinctions as soon as i left the airport: people’s behavior in public transport. These warm people never hesitate to ask you to use your metrocard and they offer the same thing to you. And after these common use, they definitaly ask you some questions. They are really talkatives and they wonder about foreigners, especially Turkish tourists. And during this close conversation, they will be very happy and greatfulll if you tell your good imperessions about Baku 🙂 In Turkey, giving places to old, preganant or disabled people is a custom, that’s true. For Azerbaijan, please add this list women from every age. Even if you are young and healty women like me, they will leave their places to you at the first second you take the bus or metro. Let’s say you are lost in suburbs at 2 am, you don’t have phone, you wear shorts and you are alone. You saw two man in the street. What will you do? Answer: Go near them, say hello and ask for help. They will call your relatives and if necessary, they will accompagne you until you find your home 🙂
When you get off the bus at city center, you feel yourself like you are walking in Madrid or Paris. Because this city is full of europeen style yellow buildings with balconies. Targovi Street wait for you to discover this beautiful artchitecture with many resturants and cafes. And this Sovietic influence has also marks in the people’s way of life: Going to theatre, opera, ballet or listening jazz are very common and important habits of Azeri people in Baku. But they have also turkish national art culture, like carpets; with a difference from turkish style: Human figures. According to general opinion, painting human faces were accepted as a sin in Islam. For this reason, we don’t have many paintings with human figure from old centruies in Turkey. But in Azerbaijan, human figured carpets are a big part of their carpet art heritage.
Carpet with Sultan Bayezid figure, National Art Museum of Azerbaijan
What about food? It is true that Turkish and Azeri cuisine mostly have same meals. But as i said ”mostly”, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find very unique meals in Azerbaijan. In fact, there are too many different meals in Azerbaijan then Turkey that i can’t enumerate all in this article. As a general staement, Azeri cuisine is much more oily then Turkish and they use very often a very sharped tasted herb named ”kişniş”. ”Kutab” is one of the delicious pieces of this cuisin. Inside a oily dough, they put sometimes meat, sometimes herbs and even pumpkin 🙂 (I especially suggest kutab with meat and with pumpkin). Another speciality of this cuisine are ”plov”s. There are more then 200 different types of plov in Azerbaijan. Based on the rice, they use almost EVERY fruit, vegetable or meat in plovs.
Plov and Ayran
And the biggest common point of our culture is addiction to tea of course 🙂 But their tea culture is also different in a pretty way then us. They don’t serve tea in tea glasses, they serve it in porcelain teapots. They gereally mix different tea leaves in the same pot. And instead of putting sugar into tea, they put it into their mouths or they prefer to drink it with jam. They probably consume tea more then water, even if the weather tempreture is more then 40 celcius degree. One of the reasons of this huge consommation is that teatables are very important in their social life: You can see in the streets, in the tea gardens locals playing backgammon while drinking tea. Wait, this is not the same backgammon. They have different rules. And be sure that every Azeri is ready to teach you their national backgammon 🙂 But they don’t only play backgammon, they also play domino everywhere. The best way to learn how people spend their time in Azerbaijan is going to a teagarden, offering a teapot and watching people while playing this two games, or even joining them. 🙂
It is true that i am not an alien in Azerbaijan as a Turkish girl. But my friends from İstanbul, they are wrong 🙂 In Azerbaijan, there is a very unique, mixed culture of Europe and Asia, deserves to discover even for their most close relatives. And this not only touristic areas like museums, Old City, temples or other places; this a cultural originality.
Damla, Istanbul, 14 August 2015