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.