15 April 2009
If you’ve ever been to Azerbaijan (and possibly several other countries) and learned a bit about its culture, chances are you know about these places. Personally, I’m a fan of them.
“Çayxana” means “tea house”, and they’re very prevalent around here. I’d say just about every little village has at least one, and they’re not hard to spot. If you’re walking down the street in a typical town, you’ll see an establishment, often with a patio area. Little tables will be set up out front and inside with small receptacles for holding sugar cubes. I must add that these establishments are traditionally for men only. Now, women may be able to go to them, but it might attract some interesting attention.
On any given day, you’ll see men seated at the outside and inside tables, taking sips from little glasses with a teapot between them. This is where many men convene just about every day. They relax, talk, and play chess or backgammon. From an American perspective, it’s an interesting thing to see men do. I joke with my friends sometimes about this. Picture the typical dudes’ get together in the States. Chances are they’d be hanging around the bar, tossing beers and talking trash. Well, the same macho men do that here, except they’re grasping little tea glasses, and a pot with flowers painted on it sits between them.
I love it! Despite my admiration for beer, who says it’s imperative for a dudes’ get together? I, for one, am a fan of caffeinated beverages, and a pot of tea on a sunny afternoon after a days’ work isn’t a bad way to do it, especially if you’re with your friends. My sitemate Charlie and I get together at least once a week at the çayxana of our choosing (There, of course, are several of ‘em in Oğuz.). We sit down with some tea and shoot the breeze for a while. Charlie mentioned that it’s become almost a motif of our experience.
There may be differing opinions regarding the çayxana, but, to me, there’s something very relevant about them. It’s good to know that people value slowing down and enjoying each other’s company. We often have to run around here and there, and we forget about the simple pleasures that bring us to life.