Year in review - 2020


It has been a while since I wanted to start writing yearly reviews, looking back into what effects the past had on present and on the future. By no means it was a quiet year I expected it to be, though it may have started as such.

January

St.Petersburg

19 years since I visited St.Petersburg(Санкт-Петербург), Russia. I remember lots of childhood memories in that beautiful, dark, old capital of Tsar Russia.

In early 2000s, there was always thick snow around December and January. Unfortunately, that wasn’t and isn’t the case anymore – oops, thanks global warming and humans.

Meeting with old friends and relatives, picking up where we left off – not minding the 19 years of parting from one another, was nice – and the salmon caviar :)

February

Paris

I went to my first Ruby conference in Paris. Even though expecting a small number of attendees, there were more than 300 people, which was surprising. Folks in Paris did a great job at organizing the event, nice people.

We planned to meet with a close friend for the remainder of the trip, but ultimately he cancelled. I probably did a few rounds around the city on foot, it was pretty cold but beautiful. The wine tasting class I took was great - 10/10 would repeat.

Oh, the steak tartars, I had plenty. That alone, was worth for a trip.

Andorra

Little country landlocked between France and Spain was the place which I planned to go every single year with friends but ultimately cancelled during my time in Barcelona since 2014.

I finally joined the group for the trip with the company I worked for at that time. Trip was pleasant with sunny days, close friends, wine and cheese fondue around. Thanks for being around me Robin, Natalia and Johan. I finally skied – it was way too much of a hassle, so I skipped to hiking into mountains the next day.

Being pretty high up, in silence, with nobody around was a quite an experience. I should do it more.

March - April - May - June

Stephan - another close friend of mine from university years in UK came by visiting me in Barcelona. We had a nice night out, it had been a while since I went to a dark techno event.

It was early days of COVID-19 in Spain, so we were a bit anxious after attending event of 1000 people. Fast forward a week later, shit broke loose. I was looking to get back to Azerbaijan for the duration of then upcoming lockdown in Spain. Out of my 2 flights, both were cancelled and I had to catch the last available flight to Azerbaijan over Qatar. Flying with Emirates was definitely nice :) It was my first time flying into Middle East, I should probably check the region out one day.

Azerbaijan

Quarantine

Now the most fun part - the moment we arrived to Azerbaijan, our passports were taken and we were placed into quarantine in Qobustan. Spain was placed in the red zone of COVID-19 exposed countries and we had to be isolated in the hospital for 10-14 days.

We were brought to the hospital, halfway joking, halfway anxious of what the next days would be like. Surprisingly, it was very pleasant. I would like to thank all the hospital personnel, the aunties that brought us food and drinks whenever we liked or needed.

It was a unique experience, stuck in the hospital with strangers that we befriended very quickly. After initial tests, we were allowed to socialize and spend most of the time joking and playing cards.

My father picked me up 10 days later and we were back home. I have been away from home most of my life – spending highschool years in boarding school, coming home only weekends. Later I moved to EU and only visited home at most 1 month in any given year, missing birthdays, weddings, funerals. Being back home, near shore of Caspian Sea is always dear to me. Little did I know, a lot will change in upcoming months and would bring me back.

Blogging

Restrictions weren’t as tough here in Baku during April/May, so were able to spend some good time with family and friends while Spain was locked down hard. I had lots of time, so started tech blogging in ramblingcode, learned a lot of new tech skills, setup this website and read lots of books.

Living in big cities’ apartments for 9 years, it was great to be outdoors, near beach and staying in with the family.

Switching to 4-day week work

I decided to quit my fulltime job and start contracting with my previous company – a cool bunch – working only 4 days a week. I never liked to work on Fridays as it was mostly waste. Taking the opportunity to switch to 4 day week is the greatest change of 2020 for me.

I now spend my Fridays on open source, studying or just resting.

Open Source

I finally felt comfortable to start contributing to open source. Purpose of the ramblingcode was to start open source projects and write about them.

So far I did two projects, SepaReasonCodes and ActsAsTracked to get my hands dirty in the world of Open Source Software.

I also started to contribute to the project I use – such as GoodJob and CAMT Parser.

July - August

I flew back to Spain around mid July. Flying during COVID19 was actually very pleasant – airports were almost empty.

Summer was really hot and humid. I couldn’t really stand early August. Once you step outside the house, you were sticky as gum – I hate that.

We went to Italy with my dear friends Ahmet and Sonia. Long overdue trip of ours… Our previous trip to Galicia, Spain was cancelled due to COVID. Renting a car and travelling all around the mesmerizing Tuscany – stopping by the villages of Montalcino, Montelpuciano was an experience I craved to have for long. I am just in love with Italy – the culture, landscape, food… Probably would’ve lived there if they weren’t so bureaucratic.

Best part of the trip was that I didn’t have to drive, thanks Sonia.

September - October

By the end of August – I decided to move back to Azerbaijan until I do any further plans post COVID-19. Going back to live with my family for a while and waiting for the end of COVID-19 was much more appealing than staying in a city apartment alone during lockdown. Being back home for a few months earlier during quarantine definitely shaped this decision.

As I didn’t have any job that tied me to office anymore(thanks remote!), decision was kind of a no-brainer. However, leaving Barcelona – the city in which I had most amazing times, will always be tough. Gràcies, Catalunya.

November - December

Here I am, back to the City of Winds, catching with old friends, family and just taking everything slow…

I started a contracting company in Estonia with the help of the e-residency programme. Thanks to Estonia - I wouldn’t have to worry about the paperwork in case I move around again – most possibly to Asia or Cyprus next.

lightfulweb is the company which I plan to work with for foreseeable future. Let me know if you have Ruby on Rails/Typescript full stack consulting / contracting needs. I may probably look into teaming up with devs in Baku/Tbilisi. Let’s see…

Azerbaijan and Armenia war ends after 30 years...

Azerbaijanians and Armenians – the big part of the identity is bound to the conflict we had over occupied territory of Azerbaijan’s Qarabag region. I am very happy to say that we HAD this. Not anymore… I never thought this would end.

Over 6-weeks of war which started end of September, ended on 10th of November - resulting in a peace deal of the millennia for caucasus and Azerbaijan.

I hope this will be done for all - bringing peace and prosperity for the future and current generations of people of Caucasus - a region which suffered a lot, but have a lot to offer.

I am very hopeful about the future of the life in Azerbaijan and in the rest of the Caucasus. I bow my head for the soldiers who gave up or risked their life to bring peace and prosperity for the future generations. There is nothing we can do to completely cover our debt to you.

23 December

We lost our grandfather. It was the coldest, the rainiest, and the windiest day of the December. We loved our grandfather, he was funny and quite a character, always teasing people :) – he was the last grandparent of mine alive who was suffering from number of health conditions. We loved you grandad – rest in peace.

The end of the turbulent year

All in all, I am very grateful for year of 2020 – the friends it let me make, the memories it led me to share with close ones and strangers, the lessons it taught on slowing down and appreciating things that I have in my life. I am also aware of the great privilege I had, during the biggest crisis human kind faced in a long time with COVID-19 and its affect on jobs, difficulties it brought to people on poverty line.

Lots of my plans changed. Moving back to Azerbaijan was the biggest decision – after being 9 years away from home.

Here I am, it’s 27 december and we are almost there – the 2021 – most awaited year.

End

I would like to end this post with the Ojibwe saying that would resonate with lots of people during this times…

Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky. - Ojibwe saying

Wishing you a great holiday and a better 2021 :)