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Friendly Folk of Azerbaijan

December 19, 2015 1 Comment

Street in TurkeySmooth sailing after entry to the country. A whole heap of stars, not in alignment, meant we had a colorful transgression from the ship to the “other side” of the boom gate. But, it happened!

Since then the people have been unbelievable. Australia is not a country that they come in contact with often. In fact, any western country.

They’re a bit like the Iranians – keen to hear what we think of their country. We met a guy at a little upstairs food shop, in a biggish city, maybe 400,000 people. He spoke a bit of English and invited us to his dad’s place that night for dinner and a yarn.

We agreed, but by the time the dinner was due, arrangements had been changed. His dad had to go somewhere, his wife was somewhere else, but he turned up, with a work colleague. He’s a chemical engineer, with a construction adhesive company, BGC and his colleague was similar.

They took us to a local good quality restaurant that we would have never found and fed us up on local food and alcohol. They were both Muslim, one who didn’t drink, one who loved it, and we had a wow of a night. It’s great, nothing better than to sit with true friends and eat what they would eat on a night out. Lovely. They wouldn’t hear of us contributing to the meal and emphasised that it was an honour to treat us, and welcome us to Azerbaijan. How many Australians will do this? Just think and ask yourself? Would you?

The motel we stayed at in this particular town had an owner with some interesting stories about disputed land possession by the Armenians over Azerbaijan and the part he played in the armed forces. It’s a story that an isolated island, Australia, doesn’t hear.

Traffic Police

Despite our initial concerns, the traffic police proved, in the vast majority, to be a friendly, amiable group. At the road blocks, and there were many, they would wave us through with a wave and a smile. Awesome.

We have become conditioned to look very closely at the speed limits, so as to be under the limit at all times. This removes an opportunity for any traffic policeman to pull you over.

Anyway, 40km before the Georgian border, I was pulled over by a traffic policeman. (A fat one). He asked to look at my licence and the car licence. When they want your domestic Australian licence, not your International Licence, then your B.S. radar goes off the dial. He wanted my NSW licence!

He showed me the tint on the back windows was a ‘no-go’, and asked me to follow him into the office. The office was a district control room, with six staff, computers everywhere, and a credit card ATM!

He told me he would issue a fine for the tinted window. I said okay, I was a tourist, but give me a ticket. So he started writing a ticket. I noticed the number plate and my name on the ticket.

He got a staffer to give him a ‘post-it-note’ bit of paper, and on it he wrote the fine would be 300 AZM (as good as $USD300). He pointed to the ferking ATM!

That was when I turned feral. I have never, ever, ever, sworn at a police officer, or someone in uniform. But, this fat guy became my exception. I don’t remember every word I used, but a loud, abbreviated version, of the “Fat Controller”, from ‘Thomas The Tank Engine’, rang very loud and true in the big office.

At this stage, or a little earlier, four of the staff picked up their red batons and walked into the zero temperature outside and looked at the traffic.

I was very loud and quite abusive and aggressive. So the fat controller then suggested I write down, on the bit of paper, what I thought the fine should be!! (You put yourself in this position, how could this happen when you trust a uniform!).

Anyway, I wrote $20 and kept up the yelling.

He countered with $200 and I just hit a few more decibels and the language I used included, quite clearly, what I thought of what sort of a mother he must have. As I spoke, I remember my teeth clenched, with spittle coming through the gaps.

He gave up, pointed to the $20, I had written, and waved me away.

I went and got a 20, came back, shook his dirty filthy hand with the 20, it disappeared, and in its place, miraculously, appeared my licence and rego papers.

Bloody hell!!

Anyway, as Lynn pointed out, when he was putting the squeeze on me, 75 percent of his colleagues left him, so we struck that one up to a minority. And we truly believe this to be the case!

Gotta luv Australia, mate!

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  1. Toghrul Alikhanov says:

    I was very glad to meet you in Gance city. It was as you said wow night for us too. I will glad to see you in Azerbaijan again, and hope we will fix all bad things on border 😀

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