By Yasmin Kocharli : –
Shakhvalad Kocharli is an academic and scholar currently living in Baku capital of Azerbaijan. He is very shy person but at our request he agreed to do an interview for The London Post. His granddaughter Yasmin Kocharli conducted an interview with his grandfather. Here are some questions we asked.
Please tell us about your childhood and family?
My name is Shakhvalad Kocharli and i was born in 1936 in a very small village called Gedabek- far away from Baku, and that’s where i have spent my childhood. I had 8 siblings, 5 brothers and 3 sisters. The post-war period went extremely tough- we experienced the lack of food, clothing, books and pretty much everything. I specifically recall the moment my elder brother Anvar managed to find one new pencil and he broke it in a half to share it with me.
Living in a village, we had to combine studies with helping to do the housework. When it was my turn to watch grazing sheep I was always had a book in my hands, I was reading.
After 7 years of elementary school me and my siblings went to the high school, which was situated 12 km away from our village. We used to go to school by walk and when it was getting colder we had to wrap baked potato around the waist to keep warm. It was difficult but we lived in joy!
Please tell me about your education?
I decided that I am going to be a geologist, when I was in 7th grade; In 1959 I successfully graduated high school in Gedabek and entered the faculty of Geology at the Baku State University. Later in 1959 I graduated from the university with the “Red Diploma”. After few years of working, in 1965, I earned a PhD degree at Institute of Geology at National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan. I strongly believe that we have to educate ourselves the whole life, so i am not done yet.
Tell me about your family life?
I don’t really like to talk about my family life. Briefly I can tell, that I’ve been married for 49 years now, I have 3 kids- 2 boys and 1 girl. I am very proud of my children.
Your hobbies and how you spend time?
There is almost no free time during the week, but when I manage to have one hour, my wife sends me for a groceries shopping or to take my grandkids for a walk. Also, I love to play chess when I have free time, and I am quite good at it. I enjoy reading books, travelling with my family, and one of my recent hobbies is learning English, so that when I travel abroad I could communicate with people without any help.
When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was in high school I was reading a lot of books, I was really into Azerbaijani and European classics of fiction. Back then I thought I could become a great writer. I have never been so mistaken. Human life is enough just for one profession. I became a good geologist, but I don’t consider myself as a writer. I wrote few fiction books, but it was on an amateur level. However, my semi-realistic book “We lived through it” dedicated to funny stories about outstanding geologists and scientists became quite popular among the youth. I also published more than 150 scientific papers along with 3-4 monographs, which I am proud of. One of my monographs- “Problematic issues of oil and gas geology of Azerbaijan”, brought a lot of attention and favor, and as a result I became Deputy Chief Editor at “Geophysical news of Azerbaijan” newspaper.
Tell me a story of your success? What did you achieve and what are you proud of?
One of the reasons of my success was «so-called» profession of being a member of well-known in Azerbaijan«Kocharli» family. My family famous for having «Cult of education», My brothers are two famous academicians in Azerbaijan- Tofiq and Firuddin Kocharli. We have about 10 members of the family with Doctor of Science degree, more than 15 members with PhD degree. This surname obliges us to study, read books and achieve our goals, and i am very grateful that i was born Kocharli.
Career wise, I am very proud of medal «Discoverer of the field, that I received for discovering the field in Kurzaige- it is the highest estimate of the geologist’s work. I am very lucky to be sent, as an expert in the oil industry, to a number of countries- Uzbekistan in 1976, Ukraine in 1983, Belarus in 1985, USA in 1991,Moldova in 1999 and 2003, Iraq in 1992, Tajikistan in 2006, to name but a few.
What can you advise the younger generation?
Advice? Well young people don’t like taking advice. But, nevertheless, I would advise to be purposeful and dedicated to what they are doing. Moreover, it is very important to not scatter over trifles.
What is your future plans?
When 75y ears old Einstein was asked: “What would you do if the Angel of death gave you 2 hours of living?” He did not hesitate to reply: “Would finish my unfinished business”.
(Yasmin Kocharli aspiring to be a journalist and expert in media marketing, currently based in London)