One can classify my early childhood as idyllic. Being ten years younger than my sister, I am the baby of the family. I enjoyed my sister’s [almost] undivided attention; She taught me how to read, played with me and was and still is the person I admire the most and absolutely adore.
Baku was a lovely place to be a kid. The city is unique, a perfect melding of European and Islam architecture.
The people are warm and generous showcasing Middle Eastern sensibilities and the food, oh, the food so delicious. The markets were always brimming with unique, exotic, always ripe fruits and vegetables. Some of my very favorite dishes are really Azeri. The locals are masters in utilizing herbs, greens, lettuces and eggplants, peppers into their cooking.
The remainder of my childhood was less idyllic and can be characterized best by uncertainty: 1. we were refugees in a war, 2. my dad retired, and 3. my family moved to the United States.
I don’t remember everything from my time as a refugee in Kiev, but I do remember realizing how much I missed my dad once we came back in the Spring of 1990. He stayed back as a member of the armed forces assisting in establishing order in the city that was ravaged by war. I don’t know of a single family that wasn’t impacted by that conflict. Baku was never the same after we returned in 1990 and we never felt safe. I heard gunshots nightly from then until 1991 when we left. Even now, when I watch the news and I see conflict and human suffering, I have a very real understanding of what that is.