· The entire area along the sea, from near our house to the world’s ex-tallest flagpole about two miles away has been cleared. Dozens, no hundreds of buildings razed, in a couple of months. Why? Eurovision. The plan or perhaps whim of someone in charge of welcoming the world to this town. I heard about a woman who now has to live with her relatives because the home that had been her family’s for many years was destroyed, and she given only a small amount of money—not enough to buy another place. The woman, a very cheerful and good-natured person, does not complain, though her face falls a bit when she says, “It was for the good of the country.” The area cleared will make a wide grand road leading to a new stadium for Eurovision. And the flag.
· When the president travels around town it is with a 10 car entourage, and all traffic is stopped. Keeps people employed, stopping all the traffic.
· Yours truly made a big faux pas referring to the day off last Friday as a “holiday.” My teacher and my student, along with my Azeri book are quick to say it is Not. It is Martyr’s Day, commemorating the struggle for independence from the Soviet Union. I appreciate the reminder—it is wise to recall the reasons behind our days off.
· It is an underlying undercurrent that I’m thankfully not too aware of—I was reminded when I looked at the US Embassy’s web page. There were various news stories from 2011: in November a journalist was killed; it (bless them) called for an investigation. Earlier in the year several people were arrested for demonstrating.