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Friday, October 21, 2011 | Ell & Nikki

Last night we parked in front of the imposing buildings which house the Ministry for Human Rights, a recommendation from one of the “Kitchenette", who were kind enough to show us the way. Actually we were a bit nervous about parking here. We joked that we would either be towed away during the night or have all the Editourmobil’s wheels clamped. Our fears proved unfounded however and next morning a young security guard knocked at the door and politely asked us to move on. Rolf, who’s taking over the reins, was keen to make an immediate start, so I decided to spend my last night in a hotel situated in Baku’s old town. The streets here are quaint but rather narrow which meant that it was impossible to take the vehicle all the way to the hotel so Rolf parked in a pleasant square and did some sight-seeing whilst I packed my suitcase and collected my things in preparation for my trip to India.

Once arrived at the hotel I telephoned Ell, whose mobile number had been given to me by his manager, Lena. There was a slight hiccup in that unfortunately Nikki couldn’t be with us as she was with her family in London. Disappointing, but I was more than happy that the interview was actually going to happen. Ell said that he would also be flying in from London and he would come direct from the airport to the venue for our interview.

Rested and a bit nervous I make my way at about 9pm to the “Opera” restaurant where we will be meeting. The Opera is one of the “in” places in Baku, with a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Ell is expected at 10.15. At 10.30, Eldar (to give him his proper name) duly arrives, and comes straight over to me. Straightaway I have the feeling that this meeting is going to go really well.

Ell told me about his studies in International Management, his music career, how the duo Ell and Nikki got together and how they eventually triumphed in the Eurovision Song Contest. Of course all the excitement following their victory did disrupt his private life, but he still finds room for his partner and many friends, and they occupy as important a place in his life as music which is his life and love. In contrast to Nikki who lives in London with her husband and two children, Ell’s heart is still in Baku, and being a committed family person, he tries to spend as much time as he can with them, juggling this and his musical career. Just how strong the family ties are I realise when during our interview, his mum calls his mobile twice, to find out what he’s doing. Very touching, I think to myself.

After many questions and a pleasant one and a half hours in his company, it’s time to call a halt. I take a few photos and we make our farewells and I reflect on what has been a delightful evening with a real superstar!

And now that most important of questions can be answered: Ell's favourite thirst-quencher in PET is FANTA.

This is my last blog as I am now off to work from our newly-opened office Bangalore, India, covering the exciting growth markets in the Indian sub-continent and Asia. For the next couple of weeks you will be in the capable hands of our CEO Alex Büchler and my colleague Rolf.