There is something about Baku at six a.m. that is preternaturally romantic, I thought as I made my way out of the Old city, metal sole of my boots on the broken sidewalk echoing in the ethereal quiet, my warm jacket protecting me against the cool morning air. An ellipse of lavender light sat like a halo over the city, the heavens above it cobalt blue. The streets were almost empty, hushed, except for a lone taxi and a van double-parked up the block.
In less than hour the morning rush would descend, but until then, this city of millions was at peace, dreamy and mysterious. And it was all mine. The streets, the narrow alleys, the tree-lined squares, brick buildings made me imagine residents of city in their beds, young lovers in embrace and made me aware of my own heart, full of possibilities and desire.
I take this walk, rain or shine, five days a week, through the streets I love. Only blocks from Torgoviy street, this part of town is different: historically rich, and chic with old buildings, carpet shops, cobblestone streets. It's interesting, rich past unites the community, making it feel like a village, separate and apart from the rest of the city.
This morning again, as I made my way to the company bus waiting for me to take to work on the outskirts of the city I smiled at the lady who was sweeping the doorway at the Market, I gave some change to the homeless guy who lived apparently right here on this street. These were things I did every morning, the things that made this huge city feel like a quaint small town to me.
After the work, this same walk home feels un-necessary, tiring. Tonight was a case in point. All those rush orders, complaints, endless calls and emails during the day...
Something is going on in this beloved town of mine. Even with the crime rate down, rudeness is at an all-time high. Tonight I heard just a few examples: the man who wouldn't give an elder lady his seat on the bus because it was her choice to get out on her own and looked too healthy for her 67 years; a young guy at the restaurant who decided it was okay to pay the waiter by throwing the money in front of him as he was no one of high importance.
It is as if, like in those cartoons I saw as a kid, every person has a little angel whispering in one ear and a mini devil in the other, vying for control: be good, be bad, do right, do wrong, be considerate, be selfish, throw the wrapper in the garbage, just throw it in the street.
Someday, somehow, I swear to myself I am going to devise a method to help the people with louder devils. Somewhere, someplace, my faith in potential goodness of people will prove itself.
A GIRL CAN DREAM, I thought as I entered my apartment building.