Why Baku is Called the Windy City

Over the weekend, I visited the Azerbaijan National History Museum, which is located in a famous billionaire's (Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev) former house and included a tour of his many elaborate rooms.  I tried a variety of qutabs (pumpkin, green herb leaves, beef, cow stomach), which is sort of like a tortilla (but with a different taste of bread) folded over like a quesadilla and stuffed with various things.  They were all very good, but I wasn't too crazy about the cow stomach.  I thought I was going to be able to try camel meat, which was on the menu at a restaurant I went to, but the waiter said they were out of it.  I also tried dolma, which is a delicious minced meat-mixture (it may have some onions or spices or something in it too?), rolled up in grape leaves, and I think they are boiled.  The weather has created some more adventures in Baku.  A windstorm lasted from Saturday until Wednesday.  I've been hearing from many people that it is very rare for this to happen in the summer time--winds were getting up to 35mph in the city!  The storm caused more power problems, and I can now say that I've showered by candlelight.  For some reason, my water and gas still worked great even though my electricity was out.  I may have mentioned this before, but when I first got here, several people told me that the word Baku comes from a word that means "wind" or "windy city."  I can certainly see where that came from. 

I drafted another environmental scoping statement at work this week--this was on pedestrian bridge construction activities.  Some villages have a branch of a river that crosses through the center of the village, so during the rainy season, each side of the village becomes isolated from the other (when they are unable to cross the river).  This causes a lot of problems--children can't get to school, and emergency services can't reach the villagers on the other side.  I also got the chance to read NGO grant applications, which had creative ideas for projects throughout the regions to increase involvement in society of struggling groups, such as women, youth, farmers, and entrepreneurs.  The meeting to select which NGOs will get the grants was supposed to be this week, but it has been cancelled (hopefully it is merely postponed for when I am still working here).  I attended another NGO discussion on the new legislation--the committee's goal is to have the discussion ongoing, and to continue to increase awareness and get suggestions from the NGO representatives.

This weekend, I am traveling to Istanbul to meet up with two other W&M law interns, who are in Kosovo (Erica and Abby)!  I am very excited, and I'm sure I will have plenty of pictures to post next week.