Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

best intentions

- I have invited our friends for dinner this Friday. I'm going to make my own pizzas! - I exclaimed excitedly with my head up high, wind in the hair and sparkle in the eyes. Jamie's and Nigella's best student (I've got all their books!) I considered my skills in stone-baked-effect pizza making from scratch to be a high achievement and expected a stroke on a head or at least a pat on a shoulder any minute now. From my mother. She's from Azerbaijan and is the world's best critic.

She rolled her eyes instead. Stirring her four-sugar black extra strong coffee ever so vigorously. As I held my breath, she opted for a silent treatment.

- Well? - I spat out.
Silently, she shrugged her shoulders and tapped the mug with a spoon.

By now I was busy building the emotional shield from any commentary acidity that was clearly brewing in my mother's head and which she was preparing to deliver to me. For a moment it looked like she was turning round to walk out of the kitchen.

- What do you want me to say? - Maybe not...

And then again:

-... A minute ago you told me your two-year old daughter knows better what she wants to eat. Now you want me to get excited about your snack food? When I see you and your guests standing up in the kitchen, crunching and munching on snacks I feel almost embarrassed for your rabbit food, which you call starters.

I could hear the familiar hissing noise of my deflating confidence.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Summer prelude

26 July. 2009. Baku.
8.30 am. Both my children are awake and have soiled nappies. Horror of all horrors, no clean nappies left. Emergency dash to a Baku supermarket. Unusual for this time of year hazy morning, ladas and Lexus RX "tanks" dart along empty streets. Like lazy teenager, this city is up all night and doesn’t wake up properly till the noon sun is piercing through the cloudless sky.
Street vendors and tea houses wash off the ever present dust with hose pipes, sprucing up the seldom greenery and greying whites of plastic chairs and tables.
As I walk towards the supermarket, I notice the delay in the sliding doors. They remain closed as I walk into them, where the sticker sign clearly states "IN". After my second attempt to crash-open the supermarket doors, a dozy security guy shuffles lazily towards me from inside of the shop and with the obvious annoyance forms his hands in the sign of a cross. "What do you mean closed? It's nearly 9am, for f***s sake!" But there is no one to hear my ranting, everybody is too busy drinking tea. Defeated, I shuffle back, wondering what is one to do with smelly children and what the world did before Pampers were invented.

A woman on a street in black and white polka-dot dress seems to enjoy her al-fresco breakfast, as she reaches for heavy-laded branches of a white mulberry tree. Her head and back arching backwards in search of the ripest fruit, holding the tip of the branch in one hand and picking the berries with the other.
I catch myself gazing at her ease and total ignorance of the hustle and bustle of the morning city, surrounding her.
Growing up amongst the orchids of varieties of mulberry trees and being so used to their sight, smell and taste, I never thought they will symbolise summer for me as much as the Caspian sea or dachas.
When Layla and I went out for a walk hours after we arrived in our Baku flat, we passed an old mulberry tree on our way. Keen to introduce my 2-year old daughter to all the delights of my childhood, I picked few juicy berries from the tree for her. She munches on the berries happily and I close my eyes with delight. As I look up and open my eyes, I see again this pain-stakingly familiar sight of the innocent blue sky scattered in between the green spread of mulberry leaves and their ink-coloured jewels of berries. This was the moment when summer officially started for me.