We are on Fall Break this week and I took the weekend finish some school projects and catchup with email. We had a really nice final week of school before the vacation. Oliver scored his first goal on Tuesday against Westminster International School in Tashkent as you can see in the video above. He always gives a full effort and listens to the coaches and is earning more playing time. Oliver also grew this autumn and has thinned out, losing his baby fat. Being on the soccer team helps and their team is now 2-1 on the season.
We drag Ocean to cross country running training as often as possible. She prefers to stay home and play video games and do art instead of sports. She is such a gifted athlete, I hope she catches the enthusiasm to do more sports. I also guilt her into spending time with me and walk with Obi.
The autumn colors are coming out in the city. Like Europe, they are mostly yellow and orange. I miss the reds of North America and Japan. The days have been lovely with warm afternoons, bright sunshine and blue skies. It lifts one mood to be outdoors on days like these.
I had a couple of Uzbek moments in the past couple of weeks. The first was meeting Ukrainian rap star, Geegun. Nadia and I stayed at the Hilton a couple of weeks ago for a Sunday get-away and I got into the elevator. Geegun was inside with his entourage. All of them kind of looked like him, with beards, shaved heads and dressed like professional entertainers. As the elevator was going up, I heard a loud fart from one of his party. A few seconds later I heard another fart. As the elevators were opening, I turned to them and said, “thank god for the COVID mask I am wearing”. The guys burst out laughing and slapped my back and said America is the best.
Yesterday Ocean and I were relaxing in the living room when we heard the front door bell ring. Three guys showed up with a sheet that had a list of names from the neighborhood and their water bills. I asked where their uniforms were and if they were really from the water company and the guy went into his car and got his water company jacket. After some more discussion, I eventually paid the bill via PayMe, a digital payment system that one can use on their phone. Utilities have a long way to go here as they do not check the water meter but somehow come up with amounts. I imagine they are losing a lot of money and the actual water usage in Tashkent is much higher than we they charge. In a desert country, this will eventually have to change. It is just there is a lack of rule-of-law Uzbekistan in many ways and things such paying taxes and utilities have no transparent process. I think they will eventually get there but it will take time.
Finally, Nadia and I had a special evening at the German Ambassador’s Residence last week. He invited a small group of people who helped with his transition to Tashkent. Ambassador Klinner and his lovely wife Lyubow were gracious hosts. The residence was fabulous, a historic mansion in the north part of the city. Lyubow has excellent taste and the home is spectacular. I felt like we were dining at the White House. The seven-course dinner was quite the experience.