In the 19th century, the oil industry made Baku a wild boom town conjuring images of grandiose buildings, adventure and of easily made fortunes.
Today these European styled mansions still serve the elite,while the larger population subsisting in mass soviet flats, struggle with economic reforms, high unemployment, corruption and a stubborn inheritance of soviet social distrust.
Poorly managed oil fields of a golden era left a huge scare of contaminated landscape, which till today have poor Azeris and refugees still picking its crumbs.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia brought an influx of internally displaced refugees into Baku creating scores of settlements with poor living conditions.
The young middle class struggle with their identity, embroiled in a tussle of social values between inherited Muslim principles, remanence of imposed soviet culture and the ‘freedom’ of new western values. Quiet on the periphery the older generation unwittingly wishes back the soviet era, griping about vanishing social benefits, jobs and equality.