Baku, a city of old and new. This is what I was to discover to my delight when I finally arrived.
Baku, where I was to be met in the early hours of the morning by my dear friend Asia. Then, after a very brief greeting, she swept me off my feet and ushered me through the double gates of the impressive 12th century city walls to another world of hidden mysteries, stories and glories. She led me up the steep cobbled stoned street, hauling my now broken and battered case, to her cosy apartment, tucked away in a narrow alley. And all the while, the lazy, hazey sun was slowly but surely rising to its zenith.
Baku, a graceful boulevard city that I found to be tranquil, organised and clean. I was particularly impressed by the women and men who were constantly sweeping the pavements and parks, just as they did on that freezing cold day in January 1990, when martial law was introduced. But this time it was September and the relentless sun was beating down on those same pavements that had so many stories buried beneath them.
Baku, a city that is transformed at night by its glitzy neon lights into a hustling, intricate affair. This is when men, women and children take to the streets in throngs, visiting the chic shops and stopping off at the many typical restaurants whose waiters beckon the passersby in, tantalising them with their tasty fare.
Baku, a city of a thousand and one nights……..