Basic Things You Need to Know in Azerbaijan
Basic Things You Need to Know in Azerbaijan Reviews
Nov 30, 2007
As I am in a constant state of learning about Azeri culture, I am always having to adjust my approach to living here. For any traveler planning to come here, I am hoping this review will be helpful in reducing culture shock.
1. Personal space is non-existent here. If you leave a little extra personal space in line, you can expect someone to occupy it. If you are leaving a crowded football game, you can expect the person right behind you to be pressed against your backside. When that happens, I ask the person behind me to buy me dinner first, but no one has.
2. No matter where you may go, there is no toilet paper in any public bathroom. So, you need to bring your own. Most locals resort to using newspapers.
3. Like in Turkey, bread is considered very important here and should not be thrown on the ground. If you buy some fresh bread and are full, give the remainder to a passerby. If you have some stale bread, it should be left on a ledge so that some animals or birds (especially the ones wearing nail polish (for Corina)) may partake in it. Under no circumstances should it touch the ground.
4. Putting almost anything of someone else on the ground is considered very disrespectful. It does not matter if they placed it on something that is yours, merely place it somewhere else that is not the ground and no one will get offended.
5. People drive fast and walk slow. I am not sure if one is the cause for the other. If you are driving slow or walking fast here then you are the problem.
6. Seats on the Metro should always be given up to those older than yourself. If you are male, giving up your seat to any woman scores major point with not only the woman but everyone else riding the train.
7. There are no funeral homes here. Most funerals are conducted in makeshift canvas tents usually placed on the sidewalk or on the street. Streets are often closed for funerals.
8. Asking someone how much they make a year is not considered rude. If you do not want to answer it, do not.
9. Asking someone why they have never married is not considered rude either. You can actually have a lot of fun with answering this question. My personal favorite is claiming that my last girlfriend was possessed by the Devil so I could not get married to her. (Actually that is not too far from the truth.)
10. Close male friends usually have their arms wrapped one another, while close female friends will hold hands. Men will dance with men and women will dance with women. Don't read anything into it.
11. A kiss on the cheek from a friend is an acceptable greeting.
12. Tipping is optional and usually a few kopek is fine. But keep in mind that most bartenders and wait staff get paid about 5-10 manats for a 12 hour shift. If you do tip well and plan on returning to the restaurant or nightclub, you can expect great service.
13. It is best not to talk about Armenia. Even if you are very familiar with the war between the two countries, do not bring it up in conversation. Chances are you will meet someone here who will want to tell you all about it and ask you what your country is going to do about it. I always tell them that George Bush will not return any of my calls. If you are with friends and you have to talk about Armenia, it best to use codename Arkansas.
14. The work week here is six days Monday through Saturday, but the work day usually starts around 10am.
15. The belief when it comes to selling is that if you can afford to pay more then you should. Prices can be argued.
16. Usually, most forms of public transportation loads a few minutes before taking off. Do not panic if your flight is scheduled to take off in 30 minutes and they have not started loading it yet, it will get loaded eventually.
17. Timeliness is generally not that big of a deal. At the same time being told that a meeting is canceled is not that of a big deal either.
Just remember, just because it is not "normal" in your neck of the world, it does not make it "weird".
Part of the An American in Azerbaijan travel blog
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