As of tomorrow, Carpetblogger will no longer be reporting from Azerbaijan, the Oasis Between Iran and Chechnya. It's been almost two years and the time has come to pull up stakes and mosey on down the golden road.
Here are some FAQ. Feel free to post others. I will feel free to ignore those I don't like.
*Where are you going?
For the short term, Ukraine. While I have mixed feelings about this -- it's Europe! -- it's going to be big fun and there will be a lot happening, specifically around the end of March. Tempramentally and professionally, it will be a better fit.
*Why are you leaving?
It wasn't 100% up to me. But that's a long story. What a long, strange trip it's been.
*What are the Producer and the Carpetdogs going to do?
The family is going remain in Baku. The Producer is building an empire, and, recent setbacks notwithstanding, sees no good reason to give it all up and follow his wife around the world. He's just glad we have different last names. Kiev's a short, cheap flight away on some of the world's finest airlines, and we've heard it has a great climate, so he'll be eager to visit.
*Are you bummed?
Not as much as I thought I'd be. The appeal of a place like Baku is less the city than the people you meet in it. Not many folks stay put -- at least among expats -- and most of my close friends have left in the last six months. There are a few people I'm sad to leave, but I'm also glad I don't have to be the one who stays put.
*There are no carpets in Ukraine. What ever will you do?
This is a huge problem.
*I feel gypped. Carpetblogger may be based in the Caucasus, but it's never been caustic. What gives?
I've been exceedingly careful to stay away from anything remotely sensitive, political or mock-worthy on this blog, which has been frustrating and completely out of character. If ever there was a ripe target for some caustic commentary, it's Azerbaijan. Especially in the last six months, there's been a lot written -- and not written -- that I have been dying to address. I often considered changing the tagline to "castrated commentary." But in my old age, I've become partial to paychecks and my job pays better than this blog. Besides, I might get kicked out. Oh, wait....
Are you going to continue Carpetblog?
How are we going to keep up on the latest fashion and restaurant trends in Azerbaijan?
I don't know of anyone -- local or Azeri -- who is blogging in Azerbaijan on anything of substance. Someone should, especially an Azeri. Blogrel and One World Multimedia do a great job from Armenia and sometimes post on Azerbaijan. They, and Global Voices have been advocating for a more vibrant Caucasian blogosphere. I completely support the idea, especially in a place like Azerbaijan where opportunities for those with dissenting views to get their voices heard are limited. There aren't a lot of computer literate, English-speaking writers and an even smaller domestic audience, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.
*What are you going to miss about Baku?
Cheap DVDs; my local team; Samaya's varenekis; my loyal staff of committed taxi drivers; good Georgian food; the Pork Chop Shop (though I've heard the Ukrainians are wizards with the swine); Nesemi Bazaar; that anything broken can be fixed; Ruslan, carpetdealer to the stars; seeing live animals and people riding in the trunks of Zhigulis;
*What are you not going to miss?
Anyone who asks this question does not know me and does not live here. Azeri drivers.
*What do you regret about your time in Baku?
Not getting to Naxchivan or the South; Not going to the Boat Bar more often; Not buying more carpets;
*What advice do you have for someone moving to Baku?
Insist on seatbelts.
*What are your top 10 albums of all time?
Son Volt -- Trace; Van Morrison -- Astral Weeks; Matthew Sweet -- Altered Beast; Lucinda Williams -- Car Wheels on a Gravel Road; Uncle Tupelo -- March 19-21; Wilco -- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot; Roxy Music -- Avalon;