This weekend Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice. The holiday commemorates the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to listen to God and sacrifice his son. Abraham is a figure in three of the major religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In the Bible (Genesis, chapter 22), Abraham had his son tied to a pile of wood and was about to stab him when God told him to stop because he proved his loyalty and faith in Him. Instead, God provided a ram that was caught in a thicket for Abraham to sacrifice. Today, Muslims sacrifice a lamb, hence the sheep above on my street. There were two lambs on my street and I saw many around the city. The meat is divided into thirds, 1/3 to family, 1/3 to friends and neighbors, and 1/3 to the poor. Because the date of Eid al-Adha is fixed in the Islamic lunar calendar, the date varies in our solar calendar. Next year it will be earlier, estimated to be around July 20, 2021.
July and August is the season for melons! Uzbekistan is famous for its fruits and vegetables and the watermelon (arbuz in Russian) and other melons (dinja) are especially delicious. I am not sure if it is the soil or sunshine, but the produce here is so good. I see hundreds of makeshift melon stands around the city. The stand above is close to our house and we’ve been happy with the quality of the melons. I’ve heard people say not to eat the melons here because they are watered with dirty water. According to my reading, most crops come into contact with manure or fertilizer. Roots take in water, not bacteria and the cell walls give additional protection. If bacteria did get into the melon, it was cause damage to the fruit and it could not be eaten. The stands are run either by a nearby house, or the farm will hire someone. They often sleep right behind the stand. You can see the bed in the back of the photo above. This week, the cost of a large watermelon is around $1. The cost increases at the beginning and ending of the season.
The reduction of cars on the road on weekends has been a boom to cycling. Yesterday I rode over 70 kilometers (42 miles) southwest of the city. I ended up riding through country roads of cornfields and little villages on the outskirts of the city. It was a pleasant ride and one of my favorite activities.
We are getting a bit stir crazy with this recent spike in Covid-19 cases. The city is basically closed off and with all restaurants, parks, bowling alleys, etc. closed, it feels like we are back to where we were when the pandemic first came to Tashkent in March. One bright spot is Nadia is a gourmet cook and we always have delicious meals and lots of laughs when the family comes together. On Friday, there was an accident in the power system and we didn’t have electricity from 1:30 AM to 4:00 PM. I kind of liked being out of touch and with no internet, we got to spend more time with the kids. In the photos above, Nadia made a version of Owen’s favorite, Panda Express Orange Chicken. She also made a vegetarian lasagna.
I end this blog post with a World War II memorial. It is interesting to see memorials from the other side of a conflict. In Russia is is the Great Patriotic War, and I saw this statue commemorating all who died and fought in the war. Uzbekistan at that time was part of the Soviet Union, although being a long way from the fighting, many Tashkenters were drafted and fought in the war. The statue was in a quiet neighborhood in the southern part of the city.