It has only been two weeks, but already Baku is starting to feel like home. I’ve gone to Park Boulevard every night for a run and have taken a different way home each time. The city itself is an interesting blend of Soviet & Eastern Europe influence and the modern boom of oil wealth. Like any city, there are good parts and bad parts; but the good parts in Baku are particularly good, while the bad parts seem stuck in the 80s still. For a temporary expat like myself though, the contrast provides a great look into Azerbaijan.
As the European Games gets closer, the ferocity of the construction and difficulty of travel increases. Everybody understands that an event like this can shut a city down, but it is only just now starting to occur to most people just how crazy things are about to get. I run by a few of the venues every evening and there is still a lot of work to be done – the games start in only 2 weeks, with maybe another 1-2 weeks before these venues need to be used. It is going to be close.
I’ve begun to make some friends, establish a routine, and feel comfortable in my surrounding area. Overall, it’s a pretty solid place to live.
I am beginning to learn a bit more about the legal structure here and the hurdles that organizations must overcome. The laws regulating NGO work and like-structured organizations are muddled and often toe the line between allowing and disallowing their work. For example, there are strict laws regarding the distribution of grants to the point where it is practically impossible for our organization to give grants to projects.
This past week I was able to work on some legal review documents about some relatively new legislation on citizen-participation laws. Though I am still attempting to get situated into the office and find a steady workload, my days are much busier than the first week.