Baku, Sumgait, July 2012. Life in Baku is back to normal speed, after very busy days in May, when Baku was preparing to be the host of the Eurovision Song Contest. New hotels were rising as well as new hopes for changes. Many European guests were to come.
Hospitality is the greatest thing for Caucasians. It is a very important issue, and they had a very big job to live up to their standards.
For all that, Baku really lighted up the whole city: soft lights brightened up freshly renovated fasades of houses, new traffic sign helped to prevent a complete stop of the incredible amounts of cars going in and out of the capital every day, and the city´s sidewalks were clean as can be in all touristic areas.
NGOs and others were happy to get the attention of the international press for their topics, causing authorities in Baku to raise alert and more. Different standards became obvious and visible.
Now, all that is past, but traces were left: visible and invisible ones. Parks are well-kept with large greens and colorful flowers, The bulevard along the Caspian sea is clean as can be, and the old scenic part of the city look even more beautiful than it did. People of all ages enjoy walking up and down, especially at night-time, when temperatures drop below 30 degrees C. Everybody seems to be on their feet.
New cafes and shops are well visited, not exactly with people buying, but looking around is popular, as well as window shopping. Buying is difficult, because prices in many places have gome up to European levels. Wages have not increased in average. How far could you get with 200 Euros a month? Therefore, it is only a small group of the population that can afford buying.
Police is visible, watching the city carefully, stopping speeding drivers, regulating traffic and stopping and people not using pedestrian crossings. Police is present everywhere in town, watching what is going on. That is new.
What has changed is also young people´s way of dressing. Some dress oriental, but many dress western style, no difference between Europa and here. T-shirts, with print and without, shirts of all styles, and tight-fitting clothes as well as Blue Jeans and High Heels.
Not visible is that many people here seem to be more interested in what is going on not only here, but around them and elsewhere. People are getting information from the internet, finding their way through the pages in the web. It seems there is more interest, they can link themselves to international topics more than before. There seems to be a growing awareness. Now, Europe is more than just a name and a far away world. In some parts of Baku you can see it and you can feel it. It is growing.