Mum, to tell you the truth...

June 18, 2008
Dear Mum,
I live in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. There are so many stereotypes circulating about my country, and some people don’t even know that we exist. Even people from the ex- Soviet Union don’t know that much about Uzbeks- when I was visiting Moscow, one woman asked me “Don’t you wear paranjahs?” A paranjah is a veil, preferably black, to cover a woman’s head and body. It’s true that some women wear them today, but the anti-paranjah revolution has happened a long time ago- more than 50 years ago when many women were brutally killed for not wearing a paranjah outside of the house. Today it’s mostly a freedom- if you don’t want to, you don’t have to wear it. In fact, most young women and girls don’t.
Mum, Uzbeks are sometimes made fun of in Russian comedy sketches, or in comedy shows- it doesn’t hurt us, but it’s still annoying that people actually have these pathetic stereotypes. It’s also kind of weird to see people feel sorry for their “crappy” lives, when they live quite comfortably while some people here and in other countries live on less than 1 dollar a day. In fact, some people actually say, “This place sucks- there are no malls here!” I mean, hello, we have 25,000,000 people and most of them don’t earn enough money to buy stuff all the time, it’s economically useless to have one because people don’t have the money to buy randomly and waste their time.
Plus I don’t think there is anyone who wants to invest in something like this- all the wealthy people are wrapped up in building their 5th five-storey house or purchasing a new car or even better- hanging out all in one night club and getting into fights. Once you think of it, we are in a pretty stupid situation- there is a lot of people, so there should be a lot of labor. Except lots of people live in villages and stay there, and young men can go to a city and work there and THEN come back and live in their village again.
Mum, there’s also this thing that bugs me about my culture- we have a lot of respect to elders. Okay, that’s wonderful, but here’s the thing: we have so much er… love to our parents that we sometimes live in their house until we are about 30 when we marry. And after that, some people still live with their parents, but with their wife and kids. It’s also a sort of, well, unimaginable that a girl stays unwed. I personally don’t know any Uzbek women who are over 30 who aren’t married. It’s the woman’s role, to be married and have kids. Except now women often also want to have a job to contribute to the family budget. I really feel sorry for the people who have to balance so much: kids, a job, her own family, her husband’s family…
Mum, I having grown up here, with this culture, don’t really think that I’ll ever a husband or kids- my feeling of freedom and self-love is way too developed… Forgive me, I know you want to have grandkids, but I don’t feel that I want to have kids. And I’m hoping that future Uzbek girls will also be able to make up their own mind about what they think is right for them and what they don’t want…for now, I’ll enjoy life. Mum, thanks for making me alive.

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