September is a month of beautiful weather in Tashkent with warm, sunny days and cool, star-filled nights. Every Saturday morning I lead a training run of the cross country teams. After the run, we usually go to breakfast at Breadly, a nice cafe and bakery with three stores in the city. I loved talking with my wife and daughter who ran with us. She will be one of the top runners on the middle school girls’ team this year.
It is fascinating to see how Uzbek culture will develop after so many years in the Russian sphere of influence. The Russians have been in Central Asia since the mid-1800s and Uzbekistan has been independent for only 30 years. I am keeping my eye on the slow rise of Islam. The first president of Uzbekistan followed the Soviet model and suppressed expression of religion. The new president is allowing more freedoms, including in the religious sphere. I saw the other day that girls can legally wear headscarves to school. I live in the more Russian side of the city so don’t see many covered women in my neighborhood. However, when I walk my dog near the Samarquand Darvoza, I see many more as you can see in the photos above. I would estimate maybe a 1/4 or 1/3 of women cover their hair. The contrast between secular styles of dress and religious dress is stark, as you can see with the two women waiting for a taxi in the third photo. There are also many mosques being built or renovated around the city. I wonder what it will be like here over the next 20-30 years?
I finish this post with the pop-up stores that appear all over the city. The guy below just parks his Damas under a tree, sets out his groceries and starts to try to make sales, almost like a kids lemonade stand in the USA. I would love to know the economics of these vendors that do not have official stalls in the neighborhood markets and do not have buildings to sell their goods.