If you find yourself in Baku: Chapter 2 – Appearances and Staring




Azerbaijan is very similar to Turkey in the way that people here give importance to their appearance. However, Azerbaijan takes this concept and exaggerates it to the extremes. Both women and men take great pride in having wrinkle free clothes and shiny shoes. There is nothing wrong with this except if you don’t take pride in the way you look like they do then you will get some stares. When I first came to Azerbaijan the staring would make me uncomfortable as it is not a subtle stare. It is a stare that becomes eye contact that they do not realize they are making. I was once locked in eye contact with a person that was outside of the bus.

I want to give you all an example of how important looks are to Azerbaijanis: Back in 2000 there was a massive earthquake that leveled most of Baku because a lot of the buildings were poorly made, yet many women during this time did not leave their houses until they had put on their makeup and did their hair. This of course is all according to one of my teachers, but this is one of the things she has said that I could believe. Just imagine putting your life in danger because you want to look good.

Once you get used to dressing at an acceptable level for Azerbaijanis then it makes integrating much easier. The staring won’t stop though, but you’ll learn how to stare back and make them aware of their staring. Because dressing nicely is important here it can determine whether or not you’ll be let into certain restaurants and bars. Not all restaurants and bars are like that but just be aware that they do reject people at the door.

– Christian