Homesick (but healthier) in Tashkent

Trip Start Sep 04, 2003
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Trip End Dec 20, 2003


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Flag of Uzbekistan  ,
Sunday, October 5, 2003

Ok, a combination of feeling physically better and getting hit by homesickness like a ton of bricks today, despite staying busy and social, is going to result in a long entry. Brace thyselves.

Ok, so yeah, I'm feeling lots better, as of Thursday night, so I actually felt god enough to go to my birthday party Friday- yay! Thanks for all of the get-well emails! They were really nice, and I appreciate them lots. It sucks to be sick in a foreign country, but feeling cared about from people at home and people who are actually around you in aforementioned foreign country make such a difference.

Speaking of people in Aforementioned Foreign Country, it occured to me as I was having lunch at my Mahalla Guzari that I should talk a little more about the people I know here. Basically, "Mahalla" is "neighborhood" and "guzari" is a restaurant/meeting place... mine is really close to my apartment, which turned out to be really useful when I was sick. I didn't have any food at home because I couldn't get to the store (even though it was across the street) or Anna's house, and I didn't want to eat, anyway (the medicine is great but makes food taste bad and sometimes creates nausea), so I was getting really weak. My teacher was coming to my house for lessons, and eventually dragged me to my mahalla guzari and basically force-fed me osh (really good rice with chickpeas, bell peppers, meat and sometimes other random stuff.) It turns out that became the only thing I wanted to eat until I was feeling better, so I would show up every day at 1:00 for my osh fix. Now I'm a hardcore junkie, an everyone there knows me. Although my teacher sort of introduced me to a few people, I was pretty out of it, so I introduced myself again on Friday when I was feeling lots better, so I might actually remember people's names. I sort of do, but not everyone. Anyway, when I was doing that, everyone was sort of arranged in a way that looked like a promotional photo for a new fall sitcom, and it occured to me that life here sometimes does feel like a TV show, and I could introduce the people I know as a cast of characters. So here goes:


ACCELS STUDENTS

Myself

Anna: Anna lives with the Niyazovs. She recently graduated from college, and studied Uzbek at Indiana University over the sumer, so she speaks it really well, and is also pretty fluent in Russian, as she has spent quite a lot of time there in high school and college. She has acted as my tireless translator. I don't know how I would have gotten this far without her help with language and when I was sick!

Joseph: Joseph previously spent 2 years in a small town in Uzbekistan as a Peace Corps volunteer. He's now studying Tajik in Samarkand.

Karen: Karen has previously spent time in Russia and Kyrgyzstan, and is also studying Tajik and little Uzbek in Samarkand.

(EXTENDED) HOST FAMILY

Mavjuda: Mavjuda is a former government economist (Soviet-era); she is now Accels' premiere host mother for the past 10 years. She seems to know everyone in Tashkent, and is just generally cool. She really busted a move at my birthday party, dancing to the rap in her head (imitating her sons) and playing air guitar to a cd of Anna's friend's punk band.

Abdulla: Abdulla is Mavjuda's husband, an engineer of some sort, and my very own handiman... whether I like it or not! Actually, he's been great about fiing things in my apartment when they inevitably break down. His current pet project is my TV (whih is broken again).

Rahima: Mavjuda & Abdulla's daughter; lives with them and is very cool.

Akbar & Sobir: Rahima's younger brothers; are now in New York

Scott: An American student doing PhD work in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; leaves Tashkent to do his field work soon.

Mary: An American librarian doing some kind of assessment of an Uzbk library; returned to the States a few weeks ago.

Bahodir: Akbar's best friend and my babysitter; essentially a third son in the family and Uzbekistan's Enrique Iglesias.

NEIGHBORS:

Sveta (pronounced Svyeta): My retired Russian next door neighbor; lives with her dog, Daisy

Nastia: My 22year old Russian neighbor upstairs; is a teacher and wants to hang out with me to help her English

TEACHERS:
Mekhrabon: My Uzbek teacher at the University of Wold Economy and Diplomacy and a eally nice lady; she took goo care of me when I was sick. She's married with 2 small children.

Gulnora: Anna's teacher at a local semi-private high school; friends with my teacher, and also very nice.

FRIENDS:

Dilfuza: Ok, I feel bad about previously calling Dilfuza my rent-a-friend. Well, she sort of is, but not exactly. The Accels staff has mentioned both hiring a girl to help me out with things because I'm a Special Case (celiac and no Uzbek skills when I arrived), and getting both Anna and me grad student tutors to hang out with us and go places to help with Uzbek skills. They failed to mention that Dilfuza was sort of both, and since Anna didn't get anyone (I guess she didn't want anyone), I assumed Dilfuza was the former, not the latter (especially since I didn't seem to have much choice in the matter.) Anyway... Dilfuza is a linguistic grad student, and very very nice. I like hanging out with her. She's going to help me go rescue my birthday care package from postal purgatory Tuesday. Yay!

Sayora: I really randomly met Sayora on the metro, and I'm really glad I did (sometimes sticking out like a sore thumb is actually a good thing!) She interns at a local NGO, and has introduced me to some cool people.

Roman: A friend of Sayora's; he's starting a MUN in Central Asia, and is letting me help train delegates.

Mirzo: Roman's friend; also involved in the MUN start-up

Hulkar: The cleaning girl who I was convinced to hire (another matter in which I had little to no choice). But she's really really cool, and hand it to Mavjuda to hire someone who is also a certified massage therapist! :)

MAHALLA GUZARI PEEPS

Yergash: Yergash makes the shashlik in front of the guzari, and is the first person I met there. He's a very nice kid, and wants to know why I'm not coming in for lunch if I walk past without coming in roughly around lunchtime.

(?): I forget his name, but he is a waiter/sound system fixer. He seems lik a pretty skittish person, but he seems to be getting used to me already. I'v already imposed on him for homework help ("Excuse me, I have a question." "The shashlik is 550 soums, and you can pay Yergash." "Yes, thank you, and how do you spell this word?") We also discussed my possible menu choices after I told him that the beefshtecks (sort of like a hamburger with no bun) made me sick-- THERE WAS MACARONI HIDDEN ON THE PLATE!) I think these quirks are actually endearing, thank goodness. I consider it a survival skill to endear myself to people respnsible for feeding me safe food. Actually, I think all the Guzari staff consider me that quirky American, and treat me with a great deal of patience and humor. What a relief!

(?) Osh chef who looks like a middle-aged version of this guy Andre I used to know at GMU. His name kind of sounds like Nickelback.

(?) Lady at the cashier who is taking a liking to me, and already knew what I want when I come in (OSH AND TEA!) after just a few days.

(?) Tea man; looks like a characature of a cadaver; very nice man, who already knows that I want black tea, not green (although I like green as well)

Gala (?): Makes some of the other food that I don't really eat

(??) Russian, Uzbek and Korean waitresses whom I haven't actually met yet


INTERNET CAFE PEEPS

Ruslan: Works at the internet cafe near my apartment; I started going there when I was starting to get sick because I couldn't make it to the Hotel Koreana. I thought he only spoke Russian, but it turns out he also speaks Tatar, Uzbek and a little English. Yay! Someone else to help me with homework! :)


So that's about it for now, I think. My circle does keep getting bigger, which is a little odd to me, since I'm not usually a social butterfly. It's cool, though, and keeps me busy. In fact, if I can reach Sayora on the phone tonight (the phone system here really sucks), I might be going to a concert with her and some of her friends tomorrow, an might give a speech at an English language study center that she goes to sometime later this week and meet some more people. So that's good, but it's getting hard to keep track of names!

But, regardless of meeting new people and doing cool new things, I am getting homesick (maybe because I'm hitting the month mark), so I'm going to be pathetic and beg for more emails. I'm behind right now from being sick, but I think I'll be caught up on replies soon. I love getting news from home, however random or trivial! Please keep them coming!

Over and out.
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