Dear Uzbekistan

Many, many years ago there was once a quiet, little girl who was happiest among books, especially picture books. She hadn’t yet learned to read, and would always be asking her family members to explain what she was ‘reading’.

One day, her father came home with a stack of magazines. The little girl went through them all, one by one. She was particularly mesmerised by the cover of one of the magazines. It had a picture of a blue dome against an even bluer sky, and she liked it so much that she wanted to see the dome for real.

Uzbekistan, Samarkand, Samarqand, Blue ribbed domeShe went up to her father and told him of her intention. Her father looked at the magazine cover and said, “This is in a place called Samarqand. You want to go to there?”

The girl nodded.

“It’s quite far from here. Why don’t you wait till you are grown up?”

“Okay,” said the little girl. “I will go to Samarqand when I grow up.”

The years went by. The little girl grew up, the magazine got misplaced, her father passed away, but the blue dome of Samarqand and her dream of seeing it was not forgotten. Friends and family, who knew of this, would often ask when she was visiting Samarqand. Her answer always was, “I don’t know when. All I know is that one day I will.”

That day came four decades after she had first declared her intention to visit Samarqand. Last month, the now not-so-little girl made that trip to Samarqand and other places in Uzbekistan. There was a touch of the unreal when her plane landed in Tashkent and she couldn’t help but wonder if she was part of a dream. The fresh, cold air that hit her when she exited the aircraft convinced her that this was no dream, but the real thing ! πŸ™‚

The 11-day trip to Uzbekistan took her to the cities of Nukus, Khiva, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Tashkent and, of course, Samarkand. She used various means of transport to travel within Uzbekistan β€” airplane, taxi, train, metro β€” crossing villages, towns, deserts, mountains and rivers.

The trip unfolded the way she had envisoned in her dreams and her planning. Only it wasΒ  better. Initially, it was the monuments and their architecture that captured her attention. But as the trip progressed, the country came alive though its landscape, flora, fauna, foods, bazaars, music, culture, history, narratives and the people. The places acquired special characteristics and became memorable for that reason β€” sleepy Nukus, mysterious Khiva, spiritual and layered Bukhara, pleasing Shakhrisabz, cultured and elegant Samarqand, and modern Tashkent.

A very small selection of the 2000+ images captured by the now not-so-little girl during the trip. Please click on the any of the pictures to see the details.

Every day, every moment was an opportunity for the not-so-little girl to delight over and savour β€” like the pollution free air, the bright blue skies, the fruits, the new sights and sounds…. There were also moments of reflection, especially when she heard the local version of the history of the region, the nation β€” so different from the history she had been taught in her own country.

Sometimes, there was comparison as well between you and her own country, particularly when she saw how clean you were, and in complete contrast to her own country. Be it the bazaars, streets, roads, monuments, parks or homes β€” she found everything to be clean and litter-free. She was also amazed at the number of public spaces available for people to relax and socialise with one another. The broad roads, boulevards, pedestrian pathways and respect for pedestrians was another thing that amazed her. And most importantly, how safe she felt travelling in your country.

Uzbekistan. Travel 2015, Central Asia, Dream Destination, Zarafshan Mountain ranges, Tashkent, Park
One of the many parks in Tashkent

There were also moments of surprise and delight; actually many such moments, which our not-so-little girl was completely unprepared for it, and which turned out to be the highlight of her trip. You and her country have links going back millennia. While it was trade in the historical past, it is her country’s entertainment (both film and TV) industry that links both of you today. Thanks to that connection, she was instantly identified as someone from her country and therefore, someone special. She was quite gratified by this for she had often been asked in her own country, where she was from.

Wherever she went, there would be broad smiles of welcome. People sang songs from her country, offered her tea, invited her for a meal, offered to host her the next time she came… Then there were school and college kids who would stop and request to take selfies with her. She even gave her autograph to a delighted teenager in Khiva ! All in all, the people of Uzbekistan sure made her feel like a rock star. πŸ™‚

The not-so-little girl is a little reserved, and while she liked to interact with local people during her travels, she would not take many photographs of them. One could say that she was not a people photographer. But your friendly, beautiful and hardworking people worked their magic on her and this time, she has ‘people photographs’ running into a couple of hundreds, instead of the usual 2 or 3.

A very small selection of photographs of the people of Uzbekistan. Please click on the any of the pictures to see the details.

It has been 10 days since the now not-so-little-girl returned home to her country. The bags have been unpacked, the laundry has been done, gifts bought for friends and family have been given or dispatched, the 2000+ pictures have been downloaded, and she is back at work after the holiday. Life and regular routine has resumed.

And yet, there is a part of her that is still there in your country. Never a day goes when she isn’t talking about you or sharing her pictures and memories of her time there. Just this morning, she sent her itinerary to someone who will soon be paying you a visit. (PS: You should know that she is also planning her next visit soon !)Β She had intended to write to you immediately on her return, but hadn’t accounted for how overwhelming the trip and everything associated with it was.

And how do I know all this? Simple (and as you may have already guessed), I am that not-so-little girl. πŸ˜€

Rakhmet (thank you), dear Uzbekistan, for being such a wonderful host and for giving me the dream trip of my lifetime. See you soon.

With love,

Sudha

Uzbekistan. Travel 2015, Central Asia, Dream Destination, SamarqandPS: In case you are wondering if I saw the blue dome in Samarqand, yes, I did. The only thing is I saw many blue domes, not just there but all over Uzbekistan. Wait for my posts !


In the coming weeks, I will be writing about #MyDreamTripUzbekistan on this blog. Join me on Twitter, Facebook andΒ Instagram as I share this journey and all β€œMy Favourite Things” with you.


My Dream Trip Uzbekistan Series:

Dear Uzbekistan | A city called Nukus | Art in the Desert: The Savitsky Collection at Nukus | The Mizdahkan Necropolis | 3 forts and a dakhma | Itchan Kala of Khiva | There’s something about Bukhara! | Monumental Bukhara | The Jewish Heritage of Bukhara | Shakhrisabz: The home town of Amir Timur | The Registan Square of Samarqand | The blue city of Samarqand | The silk paper factory at Konigil | The surprise & delight that was Tashkent | Uzbekistan: The food & markets special | The Uzbekistan trip planner |


56 thoughts on “Dear Uzbekistan

  1. I couldn’t wait to read your first post, the moment you shared it! It’s so special for those of us, who knew of the dream of the little girl and how it was fulfilled in such a grand manner by a determined not-so-little-girl πŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading each and every one of your #MyDreamTripUzbekistan posts. I can sense it Uzbekistan. You will have many more dream chasers coming soon, all thanks to the one who shares her magnificent memories of you through this blog. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Atula, thank you so much. It is so lovely to see friends I have shared the dream with come to the blog and comment. It is due to the encouragement and wishes of friends like yours that the Uzbekistan trip happened. πŸ™‚

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    1. Welcome here, Moritz and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. To call Uzbekistan interesting doesn’t quite capture the country and its many moods. πŸ™‚

      Cultural differences are expected, but I am more interested in cultural similarities which transcend geograpgy, historical periods and religions. I found a lot of that in Uzbekistan.

      Do keep visiting and I hope you enjoy reading the other posts in the series as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Ma’am. πŸ™‚

      The posts with the blue domes in all the cities I saw will come up. But all in good time. There are other places and experiences to be written about and shared before them. In fact, I just published a post on the city of Nukus earlier today.

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    1. Thank you very much, Kat. Uzbekistan was simply a dream come true and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have been able to visit it. Honestly, there was no effort required in getting those beautiful pictures – the place and its people are so beautiful.

      Hope you enjoy the other posts in the series. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Uzbekistan, The little girl now not so little shared her dream with me along the way and inspired me to visit you 4 years ago. A trip very close to my heart and one which I relive ever so often. Had it not been for her, I would never ever have made it to the magic fairytale land that is you. I missed her throughout the trip and I prayed for her hard and harder for her dream to be realised. It did not feel right that she was not getting to go visit her dream land. May be you were waiting to show her the best but at the 4 years since my trip felt very unfair. The day she was going and we spoke just before she boarded her flight I cried. Tears of happiness. Thank you Uzbekistan for keeping the domes blue and the skies the best of azure. Thank you for making her feel so welcome. Thank you for giving her a trip of her lifetime. Thank you Uzbekistan. You are a wonderful land. We are both planning a second trip and were that to happen together, wow, now that would be another dream come true. Love, from an India that wishes you well.

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    1. Dear, dear Jayanti, I had tears in my eyes when I read this. Your visit, the photographs and the subsequent encouragement and finals push towards planning this trip has been invaluable. Thank you very much. A special toast and prayer for the Uzbekistan we love so much. πŸ™‚

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    1. The curtain raiser is important, Nisha. Else, how will the show go on? Patience, the blue domes will appear city by city. But there are other places to be shared before they make an appearance. πŸ™‚

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  3. So we get to share the dream trip with the wonderful photographs and lovely write-ups at last. The excitement in the words is so palpable! I have heard about this dream from you from the time we got to know each other. And like other friends was and am so happy you finally realised it. Sometimes dreams can fall flat and disappoint when they come true. I am so happy that this one not only was true to its promise, but even exceeded expectations. The blue is really mesmerising. I have to savour the pictures at leisure. This was just a quick peep into them.

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    1. This was one dream that neither fell flat nor did it disappoint. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations of what Uzbekistan would be like. A friend remarked that perhaps, I’ve been lucky, but I don’t think so. To be honest, while I did say I would visit Samarkand one day, there were times when I thought that I would have to give up on that dream. I’m just happy that I persevered and this trip happened.

      The air is pollution free and that is one of the reasons that the colours are so beautiful, particularly the blue. I haven’t had to do any colour correction for any of the photographs I have used.

      I hope, you’ll enjoy the posts that will follow this, Zephyr. Thank you for listening to my my dreams and for your wishes in making them come true. πŸ™‚

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  4. Its finally here!! Lovely!! So much love is etched in this post for your lovely Uzbek πŸ™‚ Wonderful Sudha. So happy your dream came true…I love the pictures of the people. So simple and so sweet ❀ Looking forward to the rest of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Ishita. The very first post on my lovely Uzbekistan is finally here. This is perhaps the first time in my travels that I remember the people more than the monuments. That, in itself should tell you how wonderful they are. πŸ™‚

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  5. Sudha, I warn you! you are going to make a globe trotter out of this couch potato. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ right now, I just want to just up and away to Uzbekistan ❀ What a heart warming write up and spectacular pictures. Keep them coming. And one thing that I have now realised as I age, we may no longer ‘look’ like the little girls we used to be once, but we still ARE the same little girls in our hearts. Your story warmed the cockles of the heart of this little girl here ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the idea, Amrita. It’s my intention to make everyone who reads my posts to visit Uzbekistan. It’s a beautiful place, inside and out, and they certainly deserve some love from us. Just to tempt to some more, it is also known for its embroidery and weaves. Jest giving you a heads up πŸ˜‰

      There are many more posts coming about my visit to Uzbekistan, and I have just begun. Hope you enjoy them all.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am glad you managed to visit Uzbekistan and may be you will get another opportunity to see what you could not. Lovely pictures and, yes, the blues are stunning. Observing the well preserved monuments and the clean wide roads makes me wonder when will our countrymen/women learn to do the same.
    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Neena. Can you believe that I have not edited any of the photographs and the blues (as well as other colours) are just as my camera captured them? I have never seen such blues before.

      Regarding the monuments, most have undergone restoration and what the pictures show are the “after pictures” The before pictures are quite shocking. This, of course brings up the debate of restoration versus conservation.

      Hope you’ll enjoy the remaining Uzbekistan posts. πŸ™‚

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  7. Wow! You finally made your little-girl dream a reality! Kudos to you. You give me inspiration to fulfil at least one of those long-standing travel dreams of mine. Tuscany, Andaman-Nicobar, Mumbai, Venice, Maldives, and Thailand (again) – so many places await me!!

    Beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, TGND. I finally made it to Samarkand and the rest of Uzbekistan as well. One thing I realised in the planning and the actual travelling β€” opportunities are always there and it is up to us to make the most of it. That is what happened with the Uzbekistan trip.

      Thank you very much and I hope that you realise your dream of visiting all the places you want to go to one by one and sooner rather than later.

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    1. Actually that is not a photo collage. It is an option I chose while creating a photo gallery. When you press the “Add Media” button on your edit post page, look to your left. Just below the default “Insert Media” option is the Create Gallery option. Choose that and you can add a number of pictures and then decide how you want that to look. I chose the Tiled Mosaic option and there you are. Clicking on any of the photos will expand the picture.

      I quite like this feature, especially when I have a lot of pictures to share. Earlier, I used to have just one gallery at the end of the post, but now I am introducing several smaller galleries through the post.

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  8. Sudha so happy to see you fulfill one of your childhood dreams. A very interesting introduction to the this beautiful place. So looking forward to reading more. The shades of blues are indeed very fascinating. The photographs of the beautiful locals reflect their friendly and simple nature. I am surely adding it to my list of To-visit places πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Sonal. I have very politely called Uzbekistan as my dream trip; it had actually turned into an obsession. πŸ™‚

      Very happy to see that you have added it to the list of places to visit. I’ll be happier to know that you have moved it right to the top of the list. wink, wink. hint, hint.

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  9. Wow! I just fell in love with the way you have described your trip to Uzbekistan. The detail, told like a story and the adorable pictures oozes the elegance and beauty of the place. Soon I’m going to plan a trip to this place with my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome here, Zoey. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting your appreciation. Uzbekistan is far better than what I have written and my photographs convey. πŸ™‚

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    1. MM, I have not edited or photoshopped the photos and they are just as vivid in real life. Do see the pictures and read the posts and then, of course, come back and tell me that you are visiting Uzbekistan. πŸ˜›

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