Uzbekistan - A Quiet Celebration

Well, Sept 1st is the 20th Anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence. There are signs up everywhere, huge posters plastered over walls and as I walk home after an evening get together at The Matter. I pass a huge electronic billboard with flags waving and the national emblem flashing in dazzling LED brightness powerful enough to light a large film studio. On this evening of celebration the streets are curiously empty - a bit like Helsinki 20 years ago when quiet summer nights meant that most of the urban population had retreated into their summer cottages. I couldn't help wondering where every body was on this celebratory evening in Tashkent.

It was the end of my fifth day here - a day spent wandering around the Alayskiy Bazaar just around the corner. This concrete covered market was quiet in the late morning heat - the traders seemed amused to see where I pointed my camera - small clusters of fruit - a cup balanced on a small wooden board; strange designs with familiar fruits and vegetables.

As their curiosity increased, we began to talk - neither of us understanding the other and ending in laughs as I took their portraits.

A woman high up in her pulpit preached the virtues of her goods - her full set of bright gold teeth shining through an infectious broad smile. She spoke a little English - said 'I have relatives who live in America!' I took many pictures of her as she laughed and chatted.

It was here that I met the Tashkent poet Akbar Aliev, with a mountain bike buying vegetables. He came up to me; spoke fluent English - and after we had spoken a few words together casually said 'You can use my picture if you want to - in Finland - you can publish it - anywhere.'

Akbar Aliev - Tashkent poet

I copied his name down - spelt it wrong and later found a poem translated in English.

To Aristotle
Like an ant who uneasily acquires knowledge
Under His knowledge's light many mainlands are bright
And who hides his heart from knowledge's light
He is the single ruler in the wild of night.

On the way out we stopped by a bread shop and I made this 2 minute video with Hasan having a go!