Azerbaijan

Simmer 5: Is Community the Answer?

The fifth episode of Simmer features an interview on the topic of community with community consultant Gaya Erlandson, founder of the Lotus Lodge Community & Learning Center in Candler, NC. For counterpoint, her comments are interspersed with reactions of a fictional Azerbaijani housewife named Gunay Qasimova.

Community consultant Gaya Erlandson shares her perspectives on American culture and the importance of community. Topics include dynamic governance and intentional community. Erlandson is the founder of the Lotus Lodge Community & Learning Center in Candler, NC. For counterpoint, producer Carla Seidl voices reactions from Gunay Qasimova, a fictional Azerbaijani housewife whose perspectives draw from those shared with Seidl by several Azerbaijani women during her Peace Corps service in Azerbaijan from 2006 to 2008.

Simmer 3: Democracy and Telling Our Own Stories

The third Simmer episode features the first part of the documentary “Telling Our Own Stories” introduced by anecdotes about democracy from Seidl’s time in Azerbaijan.

Producer and host Carla Seidl shares anecdotes related to democracy, localism, and corruption from her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan (2006-2008). We then hear the first part of “Telling Our Own Stories,” the 47-minute-long documentary that Seidl produced in spring of 2013 on the life and work of media reform activist Wally Bowen, founder and executive director of the Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) in Asheville, North Carolina.

Audio Postcard from Azerbaijan

In this unnarrated sound collage, Seidl creates an aural painting of life in her village using recordings of sounds she often heard in her daily life there. She interweaves sounds of chores, animals, music, nature, and talking in the Azerbaijani language to give us a sense of a very rich and very other place.

For the first year of my Peace Corps service, I lived in a small village in the north of Azerbaijan, a country that lies between Iran, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea.  There, the rhythm of life was different, the food was different, the language was different, nearly everything was different from anything I’d known before. When I closed my eyes and focused on my ears, I heard lots of sounds repeating themselves over and over again: sounds of animals, of chores being done, intermixed with more modern sounds of Turkish pop music from the satellite television.  In the following sound collage, I tried to give a feeling for my village life using sounds I recorded in Azerbaijan in 2006 and 2007.

This audio postcard from Azerbaijan was recently featured as part of WNPR’s first “Radio Adventure Theater.” Thanks to Where We Live Senior Producer Catie Talarski!

Azerbaijani-Western Synthesis

A medley of Azerbaijani and South and North American songs, arranged and performed live by Carla Seidl (vocal, guitar), Sevindik muallim (tar) and Sarvan muallim (vocal) in Khanlar, Azerbaijan, spring 2008. Pictures are from Carla’s Peace Corps service in Azerbaijan, during which she lived in a small village in Oguz for one year and in the region center of Khanlar for another year serving as an English teacher in the local schools.

Music Video for “Azerbaijani Housewife”

Returning to Azerbaijan this month, Carla filmed (and was filmed in) a video for her song, “Azerbaijani Housewife,” off of her debut album Under My Skin. Footage was shot in a rural village in the region of Oguz in the north of Azerbaijan. Activities shown are typical of the ones Seidl observed among village women during her service as a Peace Corps Volunteer but are not intended to represent the activities of Azerbaijani women in larger towns or the capital city of Baku.

Four Eggs

When invited to be a lunch guest in an Azerbaijani home, be prepared for cultural difference and great hospitality.

Azeri tea setting

Azeri tea setting

Aired on American Public Media’s “The Splendid Table” on November 1st, 2008, this radio piece documents Carla going guesting in an Azerbaijani home and receiving an unexpected gift.

“Four Eggs” shows how integral hospitality is to Azerbaijani culture and also illuminates how food often represents a forging of human relationships. Carla recorded this piece while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan. The language you will hear spoken underneath her English narration is Azerbaijani.

The piece is also featured in this blog posting from the University of Chicago Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies.

First Day of Azerbaijani Language Training

Mənim adım Karladır.
Onun adı Mikedir.

I learn that to say, “My name is Carla,” I have to add an ending on my name that sounds like “durr,” rhyming with burr. But for Mike or Amy, the “durr” ending changes to sound like “deer.”
And the difference, which comes up frequently, doesn’t depend on gender, or length of the name. To know when to use which ending, you just have to do it by sound. This is the Azerbaijani way of making their language flow smoothly, and sound good. It’s called vowel harmony. You can’t have this vowel next to that one, so change the subsequent one to fit in with the first.

I would soon learn other rules for harmony:

Drink tea. Lots of it.
No plain water, or you’ll get sick.

Respect people older than you.
Serve them and do what they say.

Call meals “bread.”
Never leave bread upside-down.

Wipe dust off of your shoes before you leave the house.
Say, “May we always meet in cleanliness” when someone emerges from the hamam.

Hang clothes shoulders down, overlapped just so.
Slice onions and tomatoes in the hand.

Prepare national meals exactly the way you were taught.
The more butter a meal has, the better.

Females, ask permission before leaving the house.