Living in Azerbaijan, I have noticed a few things that Azerbaijanis swear by or that they don’t question, but are tips that work for them and maybe for you, too.
For women--wash hair about once a week. I never thought I would agree with this practice, but I can see that it works for Azerbaijani women. Their hair is glossy and does not smell. In America, I washed my hair every day. Now, I am down to washing it once every four days and have noticed it has more natural oil, but is not greasy.
Help for dry winter skin—no central heat, no problem. Turns out the high temperatures in low humidity is what causes the dry skin.
Cut down on laundry by wearing “house clothes”. When you are at home, wear your sweats-type clothing, but never anything that you would wear outside. This lets you wear your street clothes longer without washing them.
If it’s not cold enough to turn on the heat, but you want a little warmth, turn on the gas burners in the kitchen. Have the whole family sit in the kitchen and then go to bed in your cold bedroom with your skin that doesn’t need moisturizer.
Tolerate poultry. I have read that Clayton, Missouri is roiled by a debate about chickens in suburban backyards. Some residents want them, some don’t. Here no one minds. They do make noise, but people are used to it and tune it out. The fresh eggs and antics of chickens are worth it. For some reason, the dogs and cats leave the chickens alone.
Tolerate clotheslines. Most communities in the US prohibit the hanging of laundry outside. About 6 percent of US energy consumption is said to be for drying clothes. I would have agreed with the “no clothesline” rules before I came here. No more--I love the way the clothes smell and think that a dryer is hard on clothes. Of course, in the winter, clothes can take a couple of days to dry and still might be clammy.
You can get a lot of dirt out of rugs by using a stiff broom on them. In the good weather, just take them outside and beat them (after you hang them on your newly-installed clothesline).. A couple of times a year, after you sweep and beat them, let a cold hose run on them for awhile, then put them in the sun for a day or two to dry.
Instead of washing blankets and quilts so much, just hang them on a clothesline on a windy day. Some of the dirt blows off and they smell great.
Instead of using bleach on your white cotton and linen things, just hang them on the clothesline in the summer and they will bleach right out.
Azerbaijanis rarely throw out glass jars, such as ones that pickles or mayonnaise come in. They use them for storing pasta, rice, beans, cereal—any food that Americans keep in a box or bag. They think this is more sanitary.
I thought that cockroaches were some super-pest that was everywhere. I heard they survived when the dinosaurs became extinct. But I haven’t seen or heard of any here.
Shave your baby daughter’s head and her hair will be thicker. It is not unusual for a girl to have her head shaved every summer from babyhood through about age 4. The little girls look really cute when their hair starts to grow out and it is very cool for them in the summer. Azerbaijanis believe that this is why their girls have such thick, pretty hair.
Make sure you have a few fruit or nut trees in your yard. It is common for Azerbaijanis to harvest mulberries, pears, apples, plums and grapes, all from their own yards. They don’t prune or fertilize and get plenty of yield.
Refrigeration is overrated. People leave food out all night in pots on the stove and then have leftovers the next day. No one gets sick.
Azerbaijanis mostly can’t afford cleaning solutions like Pine-Sol and Mr. Clean. They use vinegar and water, which is strong, antibacterial and better for the environment.
Use metal dishes in the microwave. A few families are beginning to buy microwaves. We have one at work now. People put metal dishes in it every day with no problem. They throw a fit when I put my Rubbermaid container in there. They think it will melt.
No shoes inside. No bare feet either. Each person has two pairs of slippers for inside. One is plastic and for use in places there might be water. The other is cloth for other parts of the house. This method keeps everything cleaner.
Be suspicious of any food that comes from far away. Azerbaijanis feel it may not be fresh or may have unhealthy ingredients. We get quite a bit of nuts, beans and dried fruit from Iran, our neighbor, but not much from other places.
Cut down on laundry and paper towels by not drying your hands after you wash them. It feels really strange at first, but your hands will air dry. Some Azerbaijanis feel that using a communal hand towel is just not sanitary—that air drying is better.
After you wash the dishes, you must go to the bathroom and wash your hands. I don’t know why, but if I don’t, people are offended.