I stopped at the Istiqlol Palace yesterday on my bike ride. “Istiqlol” means independence in Uzbek and the building was renamed in 2008 through an initiative by the Uzbek government to change Soviet names of buildings, streets and metro stations throughout the country. It is a glorious example of Soviet architecture and is part of a large urban park structure in Tashkent.
Evgeny Rozanov one of the important architects of the Soviet Union, designed the building that was completed in 1981. It was originally called the Palace of Friendship of Peoples and is was a combination theatre and convention center. The massive (130,000 sq.ft -12,000 sq.m) complex has a 4,000-seat theatre which is still used today. It was the main concert and event venue during the Uzbek SSR time. Rozanov was modeled the facade on the desert fortresses of Khorezm. Concerts and events are still held at the palace but I have not been to one yet. I would love to go inside someday. In front is a large plaza with a massive Uzbek flag where many people come for photos. Behind the palace, trails lead to the Navoi National Park, an urban garden/park near the center of Tashkent.
The other form of exercise I’ve been doing is playing tennis at the Olympic Tennis Club. We usually play at the NBU Stadium courts but they are closed during the quarantine. Thankfully Olympic has remained opened. Tennis is a good sport to physically distance because it is outside and non-contact. We have a trainer to refine our games and Igor has helped our backhands tremendously. I’m trying to develop a slice backhand that can actually win points for me. For now, my backhand is a placeholder that just gets the ball over, or if I am lucky and hit is wrong, careens off my racquet at a funny angle, throwing my opponent’s balance off. My oldest son Owen had many lessons as an elementary student growing up in Serbia. I am trying to get my middle son, Oliver, to refine his game so he will be a good partner after Owen leaves for college next year.