Tales From Tashkent

April 24, 2013
When most people hear the word -stan at the end of a country, they usually think of dictators, terrorists, and goat herders. Uzbekistan is none of these. Well actually there are some goat herders, but usually outside the cities. I lived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for 5 years and over the course of those years I learned to love the wonderful culture and people that were there. Tashkent is a medium-sized city hosting over 2 million people and has the only subway system in Central Asia. Uzbeks are primarily Muslim but the many Russians that live in Uzbekistan are Russian Orthodox. People speak Uzbek but the language for the literate is Russian. Many of the buildings in Tashkent feature communist architecture due to the fact that Uzbekistan was part of the USSR for many years.This means that most of the building are made out of concrete and look militaristic. However, you can still see ancient Arabic architecture in beautiful mosques scattered throughout the city. Uzbekistan is in central Asia so it experiences cold, snow-filled winters and extremely hot summers where temperatures reach 100 + (Fahrenheit) This adds a little diversity in the year seeing that in the winter you can go skiing and in the summer you can cool off in the same area in a nearby lake.
The Uzbek people are usually kind and respectful. They claim heritage to famous Muslims like Tamerlane the Great. In the cities, western fashion is seen everywhere. However in villages, people wear traditional Uzbek dress which consists of brightly colored fabrics for women and dark robes for men. Also, the men in the villages wear small hats called dopas which are colored black and white and have Arabic designs on them.
Although one can find western food in Tashkent, I prefer the savory tastes of traditional Uzbek foods, which include osh, shashlik, and lagman. Osh is a rice Pilaf ’ with meat, shashlik is meat skewered on a metal stick, and lagman is a thick noodle served with meat in a soup. The all have very distinct tastes that are unique because of the spices they use in the dishes. Also non, a traditional bread, is usually served at all Uzbek meals. It is thick and usually served hot.
All around Tashkent, there are various parks at which young people usually go to hang out. At theses parks, there are amusement rides and all different types of food. One can go bowling at a few bowling rinks around the city or see a movie at one of the two malls in Tashkent. Many Uzbeks and Russians in Tashkent flee the mid summer heat by heading up to Lake Chervog (Chair-vock) and swim in its glacier fed waters. Hiking in the mountains surrounding the lake is also fun. Here people sometime spot wild horses running free in large numbers. Also Northeastern Uzbekistan is home to the incredibly rare snow leopard so tourists often come to the mountains in hope of possibly seeing one. However, locals gave up long ago knowing that the creature is rare and elusive.
These are just some of the things that make Tashkent, Uzbekistan a wonderful place. Although I only lived there for 5 years, I will always remember the wonderful experiences I had in this extremely unique country. You can experience a thousand year old culture rarely seen by the outside world. I would highly recommend anyone to visit it if they had time and money.

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