The Azerbaijani mindset: 5 positive and 5 negative traits
Let’s start with a charming list.
1. Stunning compassion
You can count definitely on charity in this country. Funds for surgeries are raised within the country as a whole and, as a rule, done so without checking any documents or doctor’s certificates. Beggars are generously dispensed alms, even though they may look and be dressed better that the donators themselves.
2. Readiness to help strangers in the street
If you feel bad and fall down in the street–you will be given assistance. Even if you simply stumble, you would hear the scamper of helpers’ feet from all around, just before you reach the ground. They’ll be rushing to catch you.
3. Respect for the elderly
Of course, not everyone treat their own and others’ elderly with understanding and care. But there is a certain line in public conscience, that should not be overstepped, for example, if a young man uses abusive language against an older person, it causes such a strong negative feeling in people, that these things happen very rarely.
4. Caring attitude towards women
Five workers and a young lady are waiting for an elevator. The elevator arrives. The workers shyly look away, the young lady enters the elevator and travels alone. They don’t want her to feel embarrassed or frightened.
A young lady visits a tax inspector on the occasion of a failed business. The inspector shakes his head, wonders, what she needed all that for, gives her paternal advice on how to suspend her business activity and lets her go in peace, though he would have acted differently with a man.
Trite and absolutely not surprising for a country in the Caucasus. But there is no escaping the fact that in our country a guest is never asked whether he/she would like to have a cup of tea. Tea is a given, everything else-if the guest is not in a hurry.
Unfortunately, these traits have five mean counterparts.
1. Showing off at any expense
A costly smartphone on credit and unpaid electricity and water bills? What’s the problem! If there are no electricity and water bill debts, then a villa with swimming pool will be built on credit. They did not have enough money for a swimming pool, but they managed to plant some palm trees that are sadly swaying in the Baku wind.
A traditional Azerbaijani upbringing implies bundling up a child warmly, feeding him/her plentily, even if he/she does not want to; bludgeoning him/her into attending school; then buying a diploma, a car and a driver’s license; afterwards finding him/her a wife or a husband. Of course, we have a lot of people who are independent from their families and are self-sufficient in all respects, but one would better not calculate the percentage of the total population, in order not to get upset.
3. A woman-not quite a human
Men are eager to praise their mothers, wives and daughters from sunup to sunset. Nevertheless, in the majority of families, women, in general, are not independent members of the society; they are sort of appendages to men. In addition, to have a good reputation, women should either follow strict rules or struggle with prejudices and stereotypes all their lives.
4. Incapacity for effective integration
Our people do not perceive their business as a family; an enterprise is not a family; a street is not a family and people are certainly not a family. Therefore, assistance that requires serious efforts, is mostly given to relatives, whereas the ‘it’s none of my business’ principle is applied with regard to others.
Our people have very strong forefingers. We like to bandy about and condemn everything that we consider wrong. We particularly like to condemn people for inappropriate displays of affection. Therefore, for years, the Azerbaijani society has been passionately condemning the youth for kissing on benches, premarital sex and other taboo practices, whereas the gossipmongers plumb forget about their own major and minor sins.
P.S. The author does not believe that it’s the ethnicity that determines certain human qualities. However, there are certain unspoken rules and arrangements. Even if you personally don’t follow then, it does not mean that they don’t exist. I’m not talking about the employees of neaty city offices, who have read Marquez and travelled to Rome. I’m talking about the ordinary people-workers, saleswomen, nurses. Those of you who doubt it, come down to earth, go and talk to them.