Mahallas are neighborhood associations that handle much of the local government functions here in Uzbekistan. The word mahalla is Arabic in origin and comes from the verb “halla” to un-tie as in a camel or horse pack and set up camp. Many Middle Eastern countries use mahallas as official governmental bodies and the Ottoman Turks spread the concept to the Balkans and Central Asia. The Soviets used the mahallas to monitor and control Uzbeks. Since independence, the Uzbek government has nationalized these institutions.
I live in the Mirabad district of the city. I like the suburb because it is close to TIS so we have a 5-10 minute walk to school. It is not the richest district, as most of the embassies and more expensive housing is in the Mirzo Ulugbek district and in the city center. For now, Tashkent is small enough to get around quite easily and everything is within roughly 20-minute drive. The metropolitan area is around 3 million people and growing. It is approximately the size of Minneapolis/St. Paul or Sacramento or Tampa/St. Petersburg.
The name of our mahalla is Yangi Zamon or New Era. I don’t know the origin of the name but I’ll ask around. We live next to a community center that occasionally holds meetings and events but it is pretty dilapidated. We do not do much with the neighborhood, but during the quarantine, we did get help from neighborhood leaders and the police. We have a basketball court outside our house that we allow kids from the neighborhood to play on, so we are well-liked in the mahalla. There are 480 mahallas in total on the most accurate map I could find. Some of the mahallas have entrance signs, but our mahalla does not.
I had a nice week balancing work and spending time with my family. I am not having much of a summer vacation this year due to Covid-19.
I took Oliver and Ocean for a walk on the Ankhor Canal. The Russians built the 23.5 kilometer long irrigation canal that today, provides a pleasant exercise path. Once our new puppy gets his vaccinations, we hope to take it for many walks there.
I love the Soviet art/cultural part of the socialist apartment blocks that are ubiquitous in the city. This one is celebrating the Russian space program combined with Uzbek traditional mosiac art. The Kosmonaut is encircled by the constellations of the Zodiac.
To wrap up this post, I took a photograph of the Ministry of Health. They have been quite busy and do a pretty good job of controlling the pandemic. The government listens to health officials and with strict enforcement, people are wearing masks, businesses are putting in plastic protectors, checking temperatures, etc.