June 10, 2009

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

I was anxious to leave the Wild West of Kyrgyzstan behind, with its familiar stories of police shakedowns, armed robberies and daylight street beatings. But as I sat in the airport waiting for my plane, I was unwittingly in the process of getting myself abducted by a Belorussian diplomat eager to practice his English. Before we even landed in Uzbekistan, I already had two full days of a social agenda organized.
Vova really was practicing his English and, at times, our conversation would hit a wall, but we were soon able to communicate better through his English teacher, a Russian woman from Tashkent who became our guide in and out of the museums of the city. Tatiana’s language skills were fluent and her historical perspective quite interesting; Stalin had labeled her Grandfather an ‘enemy of the state’ and he was subsequently dragged off to the Gulags while the rest of the family was ‘relocated’ to Tashkent. We spent many enjoyable hours, walking the wide, tree-lined streets and eating pizza while discussing past and present politics of the region.
The rest of the time was spent on discussing my “single” status, which after hearing my age, it seemed that Vova had labeled me an ‘enemy of mankind’ and was ready to have me dragged off to the alter. “Why wasn’t I married?” he demanded. Whose fault was this? My fault or the fault of men?, Was I too good for men?, Did I even like men? Didn’t I know that life was near unbearable without men? And how could I possibly get from place to place or make important decisions without……a man???? (Although, I did happen to feign logistic naivety on arrival at the Tashkent airport so I could get a chauffeured ride to my guesthouse in the official Belorussian diplomat car)
Men the world over seem to echo the same sentiment upon learning that I am a happily, unmarried 34 year old woman. My reality bears down on them like the threat of an approaching storm: if more and more women start walking down this path, they think to themselves, then who will be left to care for us? Will our selection pool shrink? Will I have to cook and clean for myself? Will I have to endure long stretches of sexless nights and dirty laundry? The thought of this becomes too uncomfortable and I am always highly encouraged to find a husband as soon as possible, so that I might end this blatant assault on the male gender and restore order to the ways “things should be”.
But what about my selection pool?
When I landed at the guesthouse in Tashkent, I was greeted by a group of middle-aged local men, one of them the owner, who, like proper Slavic Muslims, were downing Vodka shots as if they were the first drops of water after days in a hot, dry desert. After announcing my name and my country, one of them took the intellectual route and responded with a slurred, “Yew are bweutifool gerl..i lahuv yoos..you lyike me? (Hiccup)” Another was trying to get me to dance with him, enticing me, he thought, by lifting his shirt and exposing his bulging, hairy stomach. And the other one was working through a twelve year old translator to see if, after a ten minute introduction, I wanted to spend the night with him.
With this fine display of gender representation, it really is a wonder how I haven’t found a husband.

1 comment:

jess said...

hmmm.. i heard uzbekistan was a great place to find a husband..;)


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