Israfil Ashurly "Baku is never static as a flame, always changing"

Israfil Ashurly "Baku is never static as a flame, always changing"

Vestnik Kavkaza publishes an interview given to radio Vesti FM by the traveler and president of the Azerbaijani Mountaineering Federation, Israfil Ashurly, and expert of Vestnik Kavkaza, Ekaterina Zhukova, about charming and fabulous Azerbaijan.

Host - Today we go to Azerbaijan, our guests are the traveler and president of the Azerbaijani Mountaineering Federation, Israfil Ashurly, and expert of Vestnik Kavkaza Ekaterina Zhukova.

Ekaterina Zhukova - Hello, Salaam!

Israfil Ashurly - Good day!

Host - In general, we have heard so many times that Azerbaijan in general and Baku in particular is a wonderful place for tourists, that everything there is great in the European style, nice and clean. And probably another advantage, especially for independent travelers and especially for travelers with children, there are not too many tourists so far. The truth is that everyone is saying that this is only temporary, and even taking into account the fact that the First European Games started in Baku, and now there are enough fans and foreigners in general, now everyone will be told about it, and the place won’t be as secluded as it was. On the one hand, it's good, good for Azerbaijan, good for Baku. For tourists, I do not know, they just have to choose the time, the season when there are not so many tourists. They probably need to start with Baku. Perhaps you will correct me.

Ekaterina Zhukova - I envy those who are now going to Baku who have never been there before. From my own experience I can say that their experience will surpass all expectations. Naturally, we've gathered, read, we watched the video, but what we saw later stunned us, amazed. This is about Baku. Immediately I want to note, as a mother, as a parent, for example, Baku can show how important it is to instill respect for the older generation in children from an early age, and the older generation, in turn, transmits its wisdom and skill to the younger generation.

Host - Here I also wanted to ask a question, but on another issue, on the attitude to children. And I think that in the respect for children and elderly people there is something in common. What is the attitude to children in Azerbaijan? Perhaps there is something in common regarding all of the people living in the Caucasus, to children, but there are some features of Azerbaijan. Tell. I can also add a few words then, but it's interesting what you say.

Israfil Ashurly - It's hard to disagree. In Baku, probably, as in any other place  children are treated well. And you can see this by taking just a short walk along the promenade, along the boulevard. You will see a large number of fathers walking with their children. I repeat, it is fathers, not mothers. It is usually the head of the family, a man, busy making money to buy food, working and so on. But he definitely finds time to take his kids, daughter, son, sons, daughters, and for sure to take them to a walk anywhere in the park, to go with them somewhere. There is a constant dialogue. The attitude to children is always a little more special among the southern people. As well as to their parents and elders. If you look after your children in a good way, it is a guarantee that they will take care of you in old age. I think all this is interconnected.

Ekaterina Zhukova - Just look, the city develops exactly the same way. The city is developing rapidly and it is modern, fashionable, chic, with new architecture, with some crazy lights. And at the same time, it is retaining the heart of the Old City, Icheri Sheher, the old monuments.  Everything is restored carefully, with some tact. So what we received from our ancestors, they are trying to pass on in the same form. And there are artisans whose shops remain for 5-6 generations, they pass skills on to each other, the technology is retainef, the soul of the people is preserved, the soul of their country, their city. And this is very important because, in this way, respect and reverence are transmitted, and of course it is right that the way the older generation refers to the younger, as the young, in turn, will care for the elderly. We worked in Baku, often finishing late. And once I had to go into town at night, it was half past midnight, I went to the side of Primorsky Boulevard and saw young people just walking, just relaxing. Everything was working:  cafés, rides; candies, water, juices were sold. Children were running, they were running and playing. I was surprised, I am from Moscow, which is why I asked: "Are you not afraid?" They asked: "Of what?" Baku is the safest city, the safest. I noticed it was clean. I ask: "Where are the homeless and the poor?" And they told me: "The family will not allow this." So we need to learn this as well.

Host - And also this remark on the attitude to children. One Azerbaijani I know recently told me that he had visitors with children, and all the children were gathered in one room. For some time, for an hour or two, they were left to themselves. During this time they brought the room to the point that it was necessary to repair it, and broke a laptop they had been given to watch cartoons. And most of all, I liked the comment on all this: "What to say? Children." Approximately so. Still, I want to ask whether the attitude to boys and girls is different or the same?

Israfil Arshuly - Of course, it is different. I planned and wanted a boy, a boy. Everything was fine. Now of course, I think it would be nice to have a girl as well. A boy has his place and a girl, of course, has her own place. Both boys and girls are equally loved by the family. If it is a boy, it's a kind of successor, a successor of the name, certain traditions. A girl is something very different, it's a little princess in the house, for which you will always be a father and a mother. Young eaglets grow to eagles and fly away, but do not forget about their parents. But a girl will always in her own way, with extreme tenderness treat you as a father or mother. It will be something special. Of course, it is great when the family is filled with children, when there are boys and girls.

Host - But at the same time, the girl will go to another family. Or is this not happening in Azerbaijan? Such an attitude, the boy still somehow remains in the family, at least as a kind of successor, and the girl goes. She will take care to a greater extent of other parents.

Israfil Ashurly - If you have several boys, the youngest, according to tradition, should remain with you and live in the house where his parents live. This is the main heir of the house, the youngest son. Apart from the fact that when children grow up, get married, this only means that our families are increasing. We become relatives, the families of those to whom we give our daughters, or with families, to the women who marry our sons. So that means my great Azerbaijani family.

Host - And how many people are there in families? What number of relatives do you regularly communicate with?

Israfil Ashurly - Speaking of Baku, this is a metropolis. And in the city there are always sores, the number of children there are limited to two or three. In the villages, in areas where the situation is different, there are many more children there usually. If we talk about communication, I was always surprised that in the English language the word "brother" or "sister" will only work if we are talking about half-brothers, perhaps from different parents, but living in the same household, summary. But there is no strict word cousin. There are cousins. Second cousins, brothers of the fourth line – this does not work. And I say, I'm not used to this. In my opinion, the word brother means brother, a cousin, a second cousin, other relatives. This is usually a very close relationship. The word "brother" means brother. Whether it is a full brother or a second cousin. In any case, he's my brother. Or my sister. It's tight, it's very close, a good relationship. And I believe that there is nothing wrong with that.

Host- Great. Let's talk now about Baku. People who arrive in Baku are surprised. On the one hand, there are virtually no signs in Russian. On the other hand, if you speak to any local in Russian, he will answer you, and will answer with pleasure.

Ekaterina Zhukova - Not to anyone. The Russian language is known there, usually Baku residents know two or three languages, it is a rule. Young people, of course, incline more to English, French, especially after Eurovision. Now a lot of universities are teaching in English, the Baku Diplomatic Academy. Many students are studying in Russia. Young people, in general, are willing to make contact, will always prompt something. Yes, they are speaking in Russian, they are very friendly to Russians, but this depends, of course, on what mood you come there in – the same you get in return.

Host - But this is, I think, the same in any country.

Ekaterina Zhukova - Certainly, but you know Caucasian hospitality exceeds all expectations. It can be very nice, and you think: ‘’In what way I can reply to the welcome?" It's very beautiful, it is always recollected.

Host - But anyone who goes to the Caucasus from Russia, arrives for the first time, is initially looking for a trick, because he is not accustomed to such attitudes, that a stranger is treated like that. Then he realizes that yes, indeed, other people, other traditions.

Israfil Ashurly - Each country has its own traditions. If you go to Georgia, you'll be surprised how nice people are there, hospitality is in their blood. I am sure that Azerbaijan will be the same with its own hues. In Uzbekistan or any other country, of course, there is a tradition. Even if you go to Afghanistan, you arrive there, as a man with a gun at night they may keep you alive, if you get into any village and you will be a guest there, but in the morning it is not clear what will happen, but you can hide. They live by their own specific traditions in relation to guests, with respect for guests. Azerbaijan is no exception. There is even a saying: A guest is the ornament of a feast. That means that if a guest is sitting, no matter what dish you have, if it is not tasty, you need someone to share food, meal, and it is desirable to share it with a guest.

And if we talk about the Russian language, I do not want to brag, but I think that in Baku, if we take the Caucasus in general, there is the highest number of schools and institutions teaching in Russian, that means the Russian sector is not as it was some time ago. I cannot tell the exact number of schools, but it is significant. Training is conducted in Russian, including in new institutes, and new schools have been  opened where education is conducted in English, but there is a large number of schools where the educational process is in Russian, of course.

Ekaterina Zhukova - I know one great Russian school, it is a purely Russian school, not in Guba but in the Guba district. There is a monument to Lermontov in its yard, as Lermontov visited these places.

Host - The way we love Yesenin.

Ekaterina Zhukova - Yesenin, yes. "Greetings to you, the Caucasus gray" these lines belong, after all, to Lermontov. And there was a headmaster, when I was there, Sara Mamedova. With what delight she spoke about the Russian language, of her students, about her students who enter the school. First of all, it is difficult to enter this school, there is a large, complex, serious selection, the school is of a very high level, and subsequently graduates enter the best universities both in Azerbaijan and abroad. There is a board on which photographs of successful people hang, and in this school studies are in Russian. There is the same in Lenkoran, which is south of Azerbaijan.

Host - Now we are speaking about regions, not about Baku, Guba is in the north, Lenkoran is in the south.

Ekaterina Zhukova - There's a female teacher of the Russian language at a school in Lenkoran, she told us about the sights of that district, particularly the Lenkoran lighthouse, she is a relative of the lighthouse keeper. It was great, pure Russian language. Even here people don't speak that way. It's just beautiful, it was a pleasure to listen to. So the attitude is very careful. In general, if we talk about tolerance, Azerbaijan is a place where you can learn more. From Baku again to the north, in the Guba region of which I spoke, there is the city of Guba and across the river there is a village, Krasnaya Sloboda, the city of Guba is a Muslim city and Krasnaya Sloboda was formerly called the Jewish Settlement. For a few hundred years there has been a settlement of Mountain Jews. There are sometimes parallel prayers, from one bank of the river the Muslim prayer comes, there is a mosque with minarets, on the other – through the six-pointed stars, where the synagogue is, there is a Jewish prayer. And they say, during the existence of the village there has never been any conflict, all coexist peacefully, amicably, and with respect for traditions and cultures.

Israfil Ashurly - There are historical aspects, and if we talk about Guba, in general in this area there are not only Azerbaijanis and the Mountain Jews, but the Lezgins, the Khinalug people live there, Russians. It is a historical fact that some people who were treated badly  and persecuted found refuge in Azerbaijan. So the Molokans found shelter there. They founded a community and still live in Azerbaijan and live according to their traditions and the canons of their culture, nobody infringes or has infringed on them. The same thing happened with the Sifards who, driven by the Assyrians centuries ago, arrived on the territory of Azerbaijan and still live there. According to those agreements, written and unwritten, they reached agreements with the local rulers. That is a certain tradition, it is a kind of good neighborliness. All with what we were living, we are living, and will live. And if we talk about Baku as a whole, the city reminds me of its symbol, it is a city of lights. It is constantly changing, it is like a flame, there is no status. We talked with Ekaterina when she was last in Baku.

Ekaterina Zhukov - I was there in 2012, I urgently need to go again, because it's a completely different city.

Israfil Ashurly - Yesterday, probably, many people had an opportunity to see the opening ceremony, and this was a beautiful display: how much has been built. The industrial zones, we can say, have disappeared in Baku. It was such a big part of the city, it was always called the Black City. Baku is the first city to begin producing oil in the open way. That's what ensured the victory in the Great Patriotic War. It is the purity and quality of the oil, which could be poured into a bucket tank, and it was operating, performing its combat mission. Everything is done right in the city. The Oil Stones were built later, but all other crafts were somehow concentrated in the area of Baku. And my great-grandfather was also a driller.

Zhukova - the Nobel Prize would not have appeared ...

Israfil - Yes, the Nobel brothers started working there. One large cluster of the city, the industrial area called Black City, is now the latest project called White City. The City is mutating in a good way. There is a historical part, and there is a completely new face. I have travelled a lot, and it's difficult even to say, I think, Baku is looking for a new face. What it will be, we will see very soon, I think. It seems to me that this is a good tradition. That is, if at the beginning of the last century and at the end of the 19th century Azerbaijan always invited the best architects, now this tradition is continuing in Baku, Zaha Hadid and Foster are not working in all countries. Baku is so lucky, Baku is not deprived of attention, and I hope that in the future we will also pay attention to our city.


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