Mahbuba Fatullayeva is 112 years old. My friend Mason Wiley took me to meet her in the village of Peshtatuk high in the Talysh mountains. This is the place where she was born back in 1898, the year Teddy Roosevelt went to war on a horse in Cuba with the Rough Riders. She is lively and interested in everything that goes on in the household she shares with her grandson and his family.
When Mason and I arrived, she was sitting cross-legged on her bed eating a plate of boiled rice. Mehbuba has been a celebrity for many years.
Back in 2001, when she was only 102 she was interviewed by Azerbaijan International magazine when she said, “I have prayed to God all my life, I’m a kind person and I’ve never envied anyone. I have always been with nature. I knew the value of life. That’s why I kept myself from rumors, and I feel at one with myself.”
The absence of stress seems to be an important factor in living to a ripe old age as is exercise and healthy living. When we asked her the secret of her great age, she exclaimed “I drink milk, straight from the teat”.
Her family continue to run the smallholding where she was born although these days, her grandson has to build houses to earn a living wage. Even so, the family keep a cow, make their own honey and grow grapes in the clean mountain air.
There are many worse places to live your life than in the Talysh mountains and very few where the residents live such long and healthy lives…