“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Movement of people

I'm finding the ethnic diversity here in Baku absolutely amazing. There are people from all over the former Soviet Union who call this place home. Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Poles, Ukrainians, etc, etc. Most of them now have Azeri passports, and while I haven't really gotten into the culture enough to know how the true Azeris feel about this (I remember in Uzbekistan it was very contentious), surely because they have Azeri passports, they have become Azeri and accepted in most senses. Most speak only Russian, as opposed to Azeri, but they truly consider this fascinating place home.

This was an interesting cultural event, really. I know it happened in several waves. It must have been at the turn of the century when the oil was peaking, and then again in the 1960s, although I'm not a hundred percent certain. What is true is that when they were moving, they were moving within the same country, just as an American moves from the east coast to the west coast, yet their cultures are quite distinct, just as the American South is from the North or from the Midwest. Here they are probably more distinct, and it makes for such an amazing polyglot of people--blondes with curly curly hair to Arab-looking men with long conservative beards. They all call this place home!

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