I am catching up on posting journal entries on my blog from September.
Uzbekistan celebrated 31 years of independence on September 1 and we had a 4-day weekend to mark the occasion. We stayed in Tashkent for the break and I did a lot of exercise. I wanted to go see the fireworks on Thursday evening but there was too much traffic. My friend Mukhtor shared this video of the LED drone light show that took place downtown. Congratulations to Uzbekistan as it finds its identity after so many years as part of the Russian empire.
On Saturday I rode with the “Geriatric Cycling Club” on a 73-kilometer loop from the Grand Mir Hotel to the outskirts of the city. We rode to the village of Chirchik and came back around to Tashkent via the new airport road. It is almost cotton harvest season in Uzbekistan and the cotton fields were white with cotton fibers. I went into the field and picked some cotton. Cotton is a big industry here in Uzbekistan and now that they are certified child-labor free, they can sell cotton and textiles to a wider market. Unfortunately, when the Soviets decided that Uzbekistan would be the cotton-producing region for the USSR, they did not take into account the dry climate. A lot of environmental damage from inefficient and overuse of water reserves in this desert climate.
One of our favorite stores in Tashkent is the leather and clothing store, Kanishka. Every time I go there I usually purchase something. This time I picked up a leather-covered journal I am using for my study of Russian. I like the fact that their clothes and accessories are Uzbek designed. They are also high quality and make perfect gifts for foreign family and friends. Malika Baratova describes the store perfectly, “Kanishka is one of Tashkent’s popular pioneering clothing brands. Since 2001, these locally-sourced and made accessories and garments have been catering to the self-expressions needs of fashionable youth, creatives, and those who want to support local production. Dedicated to natural and local materials such as cotton fabrics, leather, and pelts (typically sheep), their entire production cycle from raw material to finished item is completely in-house. The company employs more than 100 people in the production process, and no two items are identical. The cuts are updated once in a while, but the materials and prints change constantly – meaning you can often see the same item with two or three different looks!…One of the features that made Kanishka successful is the marriage of Uzbek and Central Asian ethnic motifs with utilitarian product forms. They also dip into rock’n’roll, popular culture, aesthetic movements like steampunk, art, and history. The nostalgia evoked by these designs is favored by both local Tashkenters and foreign guests. I always enjoy the tongue-in-cheek t-shirts sold by this brand, and the soft, light cotton is a big bonus for the local weather.Kanishka has two large stores, inspired by Socialist Modernist architecture.”
I took some photos of men heading to Friday prayer service at the Minor Mosque. Nadia and I took Obi for a walk/run along the canal. It was close to the 13:00 prayer time and so we encountered the crowds of men coming and going into the mosque. I didn’t realize that women are not allowed to attend the mosque prayer sessions. There are always police directing traffic and controlling parking during these times. There are lots of mosques under construction in the city and from what I notice, it is necessary. The crowds of the faithful spill over to outside the mosque.
On Sunday, we had our last game of tennis with the outgoing US Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Daniel Rosenblum. For the past three years, we’ve played many times at the Olympic Tennis School. A group of us regularly plays on weekend mornings and it is such a delightful way to start a Saturday or Sunday. All of us are pretty much at the same level (intermediate) so the games are competitive whether we play singles or doubles. Lots of laughs and exercise on the grounds of the Olympic Tennis School. Ambassador Rosenblum is a great guy and down-to-earth and our group will miss him. He will be taking up the ambassadorship in neighboring Kazakhstan later this autumn.