‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Tashkent. The local time is 1:30 pm. It’s fourteen degrees Celsius, it’s raining. Thank you for choosing Uzbekistan Airways. We wish you a pleasant stay.’
April 18, 2017. A time machine brings me from bleeding hot Dubai to drizzling Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital.
I flash back in time, to a year ago. To be more specific, to the start of my trip. This is not only due to the rain on that first day, thankfully unlike most of the rest of that year.
But also to a Soviet reception committee of apartment blocks and chattering, excuse me, clattering storks in their nest. Baby boom … again! ‘Where is that baby shower?’
BAM! ‘I’m in the Czech Republic.’
‘What am I saying?’
Potholes, in all sizes, and churches with golden domes.
‘You are in Ukraine Trien’.
And donkeys, an extensive amount of donkeys, on and off the road, preferably stubborn. Now with a carriage, then again with a foal or just shamelessly horny. And pastel-colored houses. Yes, that too!
‘Not at all!’
‘You are in Romania!’.
Lada’s all around and ‘beautiful’ gas pipes above the ground.
‘Georgia it is!’.
And what about the rolling green countryside with behind that snowy mountain peaks? And those giant wide rivers with a little stream of brown water?
‘Aren’t you in Azerbaijan Trien?’.
Also the language, influenced by the Turkish.
‘OK! Probably … Azerbaijan, that’s where I am!’
But also rustling poplars, willows in a row, and white blossoms.
I’m ten again. Cycling through my street. It rains. I cycle through puddles, legs in the air … Woo hoo!
I sing. I feel good. I feel at home.
‘Welcome Scotty, beam me up! Looking forward to the next surprise!’.
Welcome to Uzbekistan!