Last weeks adventure. We to the bazar that is in the closest town, which is 10 minutes down the main road, after we got finished an observation at a local school. On one side of the street is the food bazar and on the other is textiles. This bazar is where my host mother and father have a magazine (store/shop). They sell jeans. Designer jeans. My host mom who is a pediatrician and my host dad who is an architect, yea, they sell jeans. Why you say? Well I had a very interesting conversation the other night with my host mom about the USSR and Uzbekistan and its 13 years of independence. First of all, she asked me how old is the US and I couldn’t remember. But thats a whole other story, but its just sad that I dont even know how old my own country is yet I’m here in Uzbekistan trying to learn about another country. Anyways, she started out talking about how Uz is so new and how as a pediatrician in Uz she makes zilch but back in the good old red days, she was doing just fine. Now, besides it being a tragedy to loose a doctor to a small little shop in a bitterly cold bazar, working long hours, 6 days a week, what struck me was that we were having this conversation with the help of her 14 year old daughter translating the best she could, which is a few words here and there, and it took us over an hour for me to get what she was trying to tell me. Not just tell me but explain to me how she feels, how this countrys independance has effected her life. I mean here we are, a educated Uzbek woman who has seen alot in her lifetime yet mostly limited to what she has experienced and learned in this isolated country and me, an educated woman as well, coming from a world that practically hands me a ticket to more opportunities than I could ever for-fill and we meet face to face and for the past few weeks all we “talk”, and I say that because we have only just started to get beyond formal greetings and gestures to explain what time I get up in the morning and could you turn on the water heater so I can take a shower, anyways, all we talk about is never more than pleasantries. And there is sooo much more to say. So much she wants to ask me and I her. Everytime I want to say I hate language class and want to pull my hair out. I just think about all that Im missing by not being able to communicate. It seems so simple, these people are right in front of me and I can’t pick their brains, I cant ask them all these questions I have and vise versa. But as bizarre as it may seem to sit a table with a woman and have all the energy I can muster spent on three meaningful sentences, at the same time, I have begun to appreciate the things you can learn by shutting up and listening and observing. By communicating in other ways than with words. It is something that we as Americans move to fast to hone as a useful skill, I think I can say with confidence and a bit of a frown. Granted, language is key in really fitting into your community, dont get me wrong. But it is in someways a ‘blessing in disguise’ to have this period of helplessness and having to go back to the dusty creative box in the back of your brain and use alternative ways of communicating and sometimes just sitting back, slow it down, and let yourself absorb what is going on around you.
Anyways, enough about that. This entry was actually going to be about my trip TO the bazar, which was supposed to be a funny story, so Ill get back to that. My purpose of going to the bazar was to get a pair of black boots. Everyone wears dark clothes, dark shoes, dark dark dark. So my light tan Uggy type boots, although warm, made me stick out like a sore thumb and were getting dirty as hell in all this rain, snow, rain, snow weather. Anyways, I had to say hello to my host mom sense I was there and she hooked me up with her shoe man and I got a pretty rad pair of boots for a pretty rad price. But then we were talking to a few of her fellow bazar ‘coworkers’ and she was showing me her jeans and I was oohing and awing over them, just to be nice as you always do no matter how you really feel. She shows me these jeans that are dark as a moonless night with red stitching and red something rather written on the front pockets and there are rhinestones sewn onto the pockets too and Im like “ohh Zor (great!)! Yakshi yakshi (good good)!” and she tries to get me to try them on. And this magazine, this store, is a 5×6 foot room, glass windows. Im like no no NO thats ok. I didn’t want to buy a pair of jeans, much less those jeans. She precedes to put them in a bag and try to give them to me. Now remember, all of her friends are around and I can only refuse these jeans and argue with her for so long and then it looks bad for her. So I figure hey, what the hell, so I pull out my wad of bills (Uz currency only has .10c bills, .50c bills and 1 dollar bills, that is why us dollars are in (black market) circulation here, again, thats another story) and figure this is part of the experience but she refuses to take my money. Great. So now I have a pair of jeans that now Im thinking, probably wont even fit me, that I would never ware in public staring me in the face and Im about to be in-debt to my host mom for a months salary. I look at my two pc friends who are looking at me like “duh, I dont know.” So I take the jeans, what else do I do? My friends thought that this was the funniest thing ever, alllll the way home on the bus. We decided that I will buy a pair of capri’s for the summer, something useful, before I leave them for permeant site, in order to repay them. Needless to say, the moment I get home, they want to see me in the jeans. Oh god. I put them on, they fit. I look like a hooker they are so tight for my standards, but I guess they fit, my family seemed to think so. But of corse they were to long. So my host father takes me, that very moment, over to some neighbors house with my pj bottoms in hand. She measures the hem, I leave the pants with her and return to the house in by pj pants. I go to my room, phew, thank god thats over. But no. We were going guesting (visiting) at my friends house, her fam invited me and my host dad over for dinner so not even a half an hour later he comes in with, you got it, red thread, hemmed jeans in hand. Ok. Hey, I have an idea, how bout if I wear the jeans tonight? God love my family, they are the sweetest people in the world, I mean truly, how can I refuse? So I wear the jeans, I rub my hands on them during dinner and my friend goes bug eyed when he looked down at my hands. Yea, they are blue. From the dye. The white underwear I had on, blue. From the dye. Anyways, only in Uzbekistan, or at least, never in the states, would someone make you take their merchandise, 1/2 hour tailoring turnaround and then indirectly expect you to “display” them that very same day. It was a riot. My friend keeps telling everyone about it, Im supposed to wear them next time we all get together. We’ll see about that. Anyways, Bizarre eh? Till next time, peacelove.
(Things to come… this past weekends trip to Samarkand. Fantastic pictures, fasinating history, that I will be posting next week. And some more pictures of my family and my fellow pc friends and our daily ins and outs (Ill try to keep it from being a bore, wont be hard.). So stay tuned my friends.)