View Full Version : Tell me about - Azerbaijan!
11-17-2003, 01:33 PM
I am attempting to write a story, and the most convenient place for this story to take place would be sunny Azerbaijan.
It's easy to look up the CIA reference for it, but has anyone here actually been there? What's it like? What is Baku like? What are the people there like?
11-17-2003, 02:53 PM
Baku means 'father of apples' and was an old fortress town I think
11-17-2003, 03:34 PM
A recent James Bond movie has some shots of Baku (The World is not Enough, I think).
11-19-2003, 06:07 PM
There's that border dispute with Georgia.
11-19-2003, 06:50 PM
I've never been, but my grandparents are originally from there. My mother grew up in Tehran and has visited a few times, but it's been a few decades since she's been.
If you would like, you can email me. My grandmother will be back in the country this weekend. I can probably ask her or my mother a few questions for you.
11-19-2003, 07:48 PM
Dude! Are you at my school?
I've been practicing my James Mason accent a lot lately, and have been mentioning that I'll be going to Azerbaijan in a few days, and that I won't be back for some time, using said accent to random passerbies.
11-19-2003, 08:06 PM
I've been to Turkmenistan, does that count?
11-19-2003, 08:07 PM
What time period are we talking about? Baku has been a big oil drilling/refining city for over 100 years. I've never been there myself, but I've known some people frm there, written some grad school research papers about Azerbaijan (specifically the war with Armenia, Russia's role, that sort of thing), and have known some people from there. Until about 10-15 years ago, there were sizeable Armenian, Jewish, and Russian minorities there, but these have shrunk to almost nothing.
For recent political events in English, check out www.rferl.org.
Gadfly - Eddie Izzard fan in the house? :)
11-20-2003, 09:38 AM
I work in Georgia and have had lots of interaction with folks from "sunny Azerbaijan." As Eva Luna points out, Azerbaijan in general and the Baku area in particular are heavily involved in the petrochemical industry. The "oil patch" community is currently involved in the BTC Pipeline Project. There are also existing pipelines (notably the WREP, which is an acronym for Western Route Export Pipeline) that run from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and from the Caspian Sea to Russia.
Azerbaijan has recently undergone some dramatic political turmoil, having to do with the elections held last month. There is an ongoing land dispute with Armenia (take a look at the map) and also an ideological disagreement with Georgia. Some of the differences between Georgia and Azerbaijan probably have to do with the different state religions, also.
Are you sure the story has to take place in Azerbaijan? Georgia has lots of intrigue and enough historical importance to fill up several books. And, Eva Luna would be a fountain of knowledge about Georgia. It's the cradle of winemaking, an important stop on "The Silk Road," and the origin of stories like "Jason and the Argonauts." And it's just north of Azerbaijan...
11-20-2003, 11:11 AM
John Updike discusses the region at some length in his short story "Licks of Love in the Heart of the Cold War." The main character, an American banjo player visiting the USSR, shares a meal with Azerbaijani (or Georgian?) peasants.
11-20-2003, 12:40 PM
RickJay, I am writing a story set in Uzbekistan! I chose it over Azerbaijan, because although Azerbaijan is by far the sexiest country name in the world (only Bahrain comes close), its a lot more unstable than Uzbekistan.
I've often wanted to start one of these threads but was too shy...
Research-wise, the CIA Factbook is good for things like ethnic groups and major conflicts (Russian-era pollution of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan, for instance), but for the more meaty stuff, I've been relying on articles I come across at work. Those vary--Factory privatization from the BBC Monitoring Service and a microeconomic look at the real estate market in The Economist, for example.
If you're at college, or have access to a public library (don't be afraid to ask the librarian in either case!), you should search online news databases like ABI/Inform for current news and journal articles.
And consider moving your story. radar ralf and Eva Luna have made quite a compelling case for Georgia. Though the border issues and the Armenians could make an interesting backdrop as well.
11-20-2003, 12:59 PM
If you want something less dry than the CIA handbook, Lonely Planet (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/europe/azerbaijan/) has a bit better. They also have a message board that covers Central Asia (http://thorntree.lonelyplanet.com/categories.cfm?catid=13) where you might get more first hand experiences.
11-20-2003, 04:01 PM
Also, you might take a look at a thread I started some time ago - "Ask the guy in Tbilisi, Georgia." As a matter of fact, there has been quite a bit of discussion lately on these boards about that region of the world. Sorry, but I can't remember the titles of all the threads. I'll echo Tapioca Dextrin's advice about Lonely Planet - it was the first book I bought about my new job posting (Georgia), and I haven't been disappointed. The book I have actually covers Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
11-25-2003, 12:38 AM
I didn't want to burden the system with a long search, but radar ralf, what's the url for "Ask the guy in Tbilisi"? I want to ask for a perspective on this 'velvet revolution'.
----wait, cancel, there is a live thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&postid=4270234#post4270234) in GQ on this.
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