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  • hardie karges 12:34 pm on September 7, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Samarkand,   

    Samarkand is for Lovers… Crashing Weddings 

    Somebody needs a plumb Bob

    Samarkand’s Registan: Somebody Needs a Plumb Bob

    My main inspiration to be in Samarkand at this particular time was to attend the biennial Sharq Taronalari music festival, but once past that event, I extended my stay.  I kinda’ like this place.  I was always a bit skeptical of the ‘famous Turkish hospitality’ of Istanbul and Turkey, but this seems more genuine to me, and is really quite endearing, I’ll have to admit.  There is always something special about a nation ‘coming out’ for the first time—think Laos 1994, or Cuba 2020—and this is no exception.

     

    And if you figure a nation of ex-Commies and Muslims to be some bad-ass mothers—sleeping with Kalashnikovs (good name for a movie, I think) and bent

    Samarkand Market: Special Bread

    Samarkand Market: Special Bread

    on jihad, then you’d be wrong. There is an optimism on the faces, and a sincerity in the smiles.  Old men want to compare beard lengths with me.  They invite me to tea, and take pictures with me, their long-lost other brother from a different mother.  We can’t communicate much, of course, but that’s okay.  I’d like to pretend that we have some non-linguistic mystic thing going on, but no, we just exchange smiles and stare in silence.  Still it’s nice… and I’m studying Russian, so it should get better.  The kids are studying English.

    (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:00 am on September 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Samarkand,   

    Samarkand is for Lovers… and Babies 

    Samarkand: Afro-Siab

    Samarkand: Ancient Tombs

    Samarkand… the city evokes names as diverse as Alexander the Great and Tamerlane, Marco Polo and Ibn Battutah, and images of lonely desert caravans and exotic colorful markets, sipping tea from samovars and slicing fruit with daggers. It must have been quite the vision in the desert after a week or two of travel from any direction. The present day reality is a bit different, and modernized of course, but still not bad.

    So after a brief stay in Tashkent, I set my sights here, flight already booked in advance in the US. Knowing how bad I get jet-rag (“don’t touch me there!”), I didn’t want to create for myself the extra chore of seeking onward transportation on my only full day in Tashkent. And the Cheapo Air booking was hitch-free, sounds easier than booking in-country, in fact, but I don’t know if it’s the same price. There is a 4:3 difference between market and official exchange rates here. I recommend Cheapo Air for remote locations, though. The other large air bookers won’t touch ‘em.

    Samarkand- On more smoke break

    Samarkand- One more smoke for the road

    Tashkent doesn’t seem too much different from any major ex-Soviet city, be it Yerevan or Vilnius… or Moscow, for that matter, with vestiges of the old guard still lingering, including much Russian language. That includes all the signs reading, “stomatologia,” which I had once mistakenly thought indicated that Russians had frequent stomach problems, but actually I think means ‘dentist.’ I’ll check my dictionary. Either way, it sounds like I better watch what I eat.

    That Russian influence is less in Samarkand, but the Tajik influence is greater, it being the predominant language here, I think, in fact. That reflects old mixings and minglings, and probably a few misgivings, the original meeting of East and West, today still reflected in racial and facial lines, the Mongol-related Turks taking from the Persian Tajiks to compensate for what the Han Chinese took from them, no doubt. (More …)

     
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