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Posts Tagged ‘Baku’

 
Thursday afternoon and this will be my last entry from this side of the globe for a while.   I depart Dulles late this evening, arrive at London’s Heathrow at mid-morning Friday, and fly to Baku mid-afternoon.  That will be a 5 1/2 hour flight but, actually, it will be just after midnight, Saturday morning, when I arrive.

. Heydar Aliyev Bina International Airport

Heydar Aliyev Bina International Airport

 Originally, I was to be taken to a hotel for a day or two while I decide on an apartment, but I received an email this morning from the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, and they are convinced they’ve found the perfect place – living room, 2 bedrooms, a study, and in walking distance of the new offices and city center of Baku.  I haven’t heard whether there’s a view of the Caspian Sea or the oil fields, but I’m assured the apartment “has all conveniences.”   By the time I arrive, a shower and a bed will be the only conveniences I’ll require.

It’s hard to comprehend that this finally, and actually, is happening.  Roberta and I had a fabulous 21st wedding anniversary dinner last night, two days early, with Vanessa at Persimmon in Bethesda.  We talked, we laughed and, of course, shared entrees.  It was the perfect sendoff.  And, thank goodness for Skype!  We’ll have to coordinate the 9 hour time difference, but I hope to be ready every morning with “tomorrow’s news today!”

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Azerbaijan bound

“Baku” first appeared in my email in early May, just days after I resigned as Senior Producer for Politics at The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  21 years was long enough, even if it meant stepping away in the midst of a most fascinating presidential campaign.  But for me, it just felt like more of the same, and I could not imagine riding out the remainder of my days in Shirlington, Virginia.  It was time for new challenges!  

But Baku?

The email came through a friend at the BBC.  A search was on for an experienced television news producer to create public affairs programming in association with the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. The foreign ministry had created the academy to train and instruct diplomats to staff Azerbaijan embassies around the world.  However, missing from the academy, and from Azeri life in general, was much public discussion or debate of issues, foreign or domestic.  

Seventy years of Soviet-domination can have that effect on a society, and little had changed in the 17 years since Azerbaijan declared independence.  A formidable challenge, indeed, but only one of many to come.

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