Monday, September 8, 2008

Streets of Baku

I just walked two blocks from my office to an ATM machine and was nearly hit by a car and was almost assaulted by a two-by-four falling from scaffolding -- and then there's the dust as thick as fog flying in the air.

Today's walk is typical in Baku. It's impossible to use the sidewalks because cars either park on them or scaffolding is set up on them to sand-blast all the buildings. The government has decided to sand-blast virtually ever building in central Baku as part of a beautification project.

It means walking in the streets -- as close to the edge of the street as possible so as not to get hit by a speeding car, but also steering clear of the scaffolding -- where things regularly drop from the upper reaches onto the sidewalk below.

It's quite the obstacle course and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.

To make the situation even worse, many of the city parks are closed for renovations. So there is no place to go to escape. As part of its renovations, the city has erected high fences around the city parks and has even enclosed the sidewalks -- which means pedestrians must walk in the street -- with the fence on one side and a speeding Mercedes or SUV on the other.

Oh, and I forgot about the horns. People love to individualize their car horns and motorists use any opportunity to show them off.

It makes for a constant noise as you dodge the cars and scaffolding. And don't forget to hold your breath -- to avoid the sand-blasting.

I'm an optimist, by holding my breath, I'm increasing my lung capacity.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

Hi Chuck, I love the short funny posts like this one. Makes for great reading!