Nostalgie… (Man Uzbek qizman :P still)
Today I got a conversation with one person about mentality and cultural differences. What are they? What we can define as cultural differences? Food? Unexpected emotions? Style of life? And I realized that I was reared in Uzbekistan, not Muslim country but not Russian as well. It is something in between. Too conservative… too strict… based on culture and traditions. Yes… I found the definition – Traditions. It is in our blood, not all of us. (But I hope in the most of us).
I was born in a Soviet Union time. I remember how we were standing in a line with coupons for bread after Perestroika in 1991. I remember this time when we ate fried onions (it was cheap), and rice (because rice is the the main component in Uzbek food). I remember this time when watermelons season was in late July and apples were the whole year. And of course, the main thing that differs Uzbekistan from other post Soviet Union Countries is Asian Hospitality.
I know… yes… I know the time when you can knocked the door and uzbek families (Russian, Tadjik, Korean, Greek who were
staying after WWII) who can open the door and feed you. It was one Uzbek family in our building; I met a girl from this family, her name was Ziyoda, a typical Uzbek daughter. I was a teenager (12-13 years old) and was so fascinated how she cooked whole meals and baked cakes in her 15’s. And it was my first time of meeting an Uzbek girl. Then, of course, I got a lot of friends. Most of them were Uzbek, not Russian, not Koreans. They were Uzbeks. (I am so proud of it). Many of you can argue that Uzbek people are so cunning. Yes, they are. Why? I have one explanation only. Uzbekistan was a part of The Great Silk Road and ages back, Uzbek people were in the middle of bazaars (flea markets), they had to have to sell/buy/sometimes cheat… and it is in our blood. We cannot say “no”, we prefer to keep our answer to think a little bit. We have to help because we believe that it will come back to you, if not to you, to your next generations.
Yes, we eat our traditional meal, plov, using our hands. Some of you can argue with me, and say, “huh? it is disgusting” or “only
villagers do that.” My answer is “No.” I lived in Bukhara (an ancient town in Uzbekistan; one of my favorite towns in our country with the fascinated architecture and traditional background) for three weeks in a very traditional family. I was 14. It was the most of the powerful experience I ever had. Can you imagine, I had to cover my body and stopped wearing shorts in a village (village called “makhallya”). At that time, it was so strange for me. But years later, after I finished Koran (in Russian) I realized that every single word that the head of the family said to me, it was very wise and reasonable. I didn’t think about it till now. Because my family was from the capital, he explained every single tradition in a hundred of words. My dad was so confused at the first time, but later on, he stated, “It was a great experience to live in a real Uzbek family.”
Traditions in Tashkent (capital) differ from the traditions in ancient towns. We have 12 districts and one dependent republic Karakalpakstan. It is like 50 different states with their own “cultural” and “traditional” laws. I had a great opportunity to see all of them and to live in all of 12 districts. For now, I can state, “It was the greatest experience I ever had.” You can ask me “Why?” I think because not all of us can see the power and feel traditions thru your body and mind sitting at home. I got a great opportunity to see how people lived in my Motherland. I know, all of us love to travel around the world but not all of us can feel our own country. It sounds so patriotic, right? But living here, I realized that… maybe I will not come back again to these places, maybe I will become older and mature and I will not perceive it like before… but I will keep it in my mind and in my heart that traditions is growing up in your mind, in the place where you live in right now.
Because I am living here, I want to feel the power of this country. I want to see how people live in here. I want to know their traditions and share mine as well. I believe that culture make people, countries, relationships, connections and of course feed your mind.
PS. If I will have a chance to come back and see “Ark” in Bukhara, “Registan” and “Amir Temur mosque” in Samarkand, cotton fields thru our big country, “Observatory” in Samarkand, “Field (pereval)” with an amazing view in Fergana valley, the most of beautiful mountains in Karshi and Tashkent district (Chimgan), Marble houses in Gazgan, sing a famous song “Uchkuduk” and visit the most of cleanest town, Navoi, I will definitely do it.
PS. I was too emotional to write it down, so please excuse my grammar mistakes. And yes, I will try to be more specific next time with places, time and people.
Pictures credit: Todd Golding. (2003-2004)