In autumn and winter 2014/15 I spent a term abroad at a university in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. I had no idea about the country. I only associated it with the EuroVision Songcontext in 2012. This changed completely in these 6 months, especially since the picture that is drawn by the government differs so much form the realities I met in most parts of the country.
If you search for “Baku” on a picture-search-engine you will find photos of the Boulevard at the shore of the Caspian Coast in Baku’s city centre.
If you live in Baku you notice that, except of the Boulevard and the inner downtown, the city presents itself differently.
The city is mainly comprised of Soviet time apartment blocks in different grades of decay. In between there are some new apartment buildings made but modern flats are expensive and often stay empty.
I spent most of my time in the quarter “Neftchilar”, the quarter of “Oilworkers”. The main picture shows the antiquated oil fields near to the city’s borders. The stadium in the background was built for the European Games 2015. It’s next to the metro station “Koroglu”, named after a national epic about a Robin-Hood-like hero. SOCAR, the national oil company, is another kind of hero: it’s the “winner” in a study about corruption in oil companies which was carried out Transparency International in 2011. It is situated in the highest skyscraper on the picture, overlooking the environmental disaster it is benefitting from.