0 In Central Asia/ Stories and Reflections/ Uzbekistan

Cockroaches and Hot Water: My Little Home in Uzbekistan

My phone is ringing, I answer it and an automated voice speaking in Russian starts talking.

“Nehyet Ruskie, nehyet ruskie, no Russian, no Russian”, I yell back into the phone receiver.Β I eventually hang up because I can’t figure out what ‘she’ wants.

The phone rings again. I answer and repeat the same process.

This goes on about 10 times before the phone just starts ringing off the hook. Maybe I need to pay the phone bill? Who knows how to go about doing that though?!

I can’t figure out the phone, I still haven’t mastered how to turn on the shower, internet is a lost cause, and the cockroaches are out of control. To add to the list, the warm end-of-day-I-survived-you bath is freezing. Tashkent, I love you and I hate you. Sometimes the only thing I know to do is laugh. So here I am, sitting on a stool in my dimly lit kitchen laughing. Alone and, honestly, I couldn’t be happier.

I’ve started my second week and every day gets easier. I didn’t come here thinking anything would happen the way I imagined. I came open and ready for every new experience, good or bad. In that way, everything has actually turned out exactly how I wanted it to.

I’m lucky.

The apartment is small, but it’s mine. The job is difficult, but I’ve managed worse. The language is foreign, but a smile and some funny hand gestures go a long way.

I’ve met some incredible and inspiring people already. And as always, I’ve been reminded that people are good and kids are the same everywhere.

This past weekend was a good opportunity to rest and discover more about Tashkent. I’m lucky to have a wonderfully supportive friend at work. She’s guided me through the bazaars, the supermarkets, and the stresses of the job. She gave me chocolate and a care package upon my arrival, which were just what I needed. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for her. On Friday, dinner on me was a necessity. We found a pizza restaurant and enjoyed the familiarity of a thin crust pizza and a mojito. How sweet the rum and mint felt on my tongue.

Little things like a drink with ice, a warm shower, and the ability to communicate effectively are so rewarding. Everything will feel so much richer and easier when I get home (or wherever I am going next).

On Saturday, I woke up to what I thought Uzbekistan weather would be like. Rain, freezing, and windy. It was dreary and hardly the kind of weather I’d get out of bed for. I don’t have internet, I don’t have a TV, and I recently finished my only book. I therefore had a lot to get out of bed for.

I slowly piled on the few layers I have with me and ventured into the cold to go to UN day at Tashkent International School. I knew I’d find warmth, foreign foods and familiar faces so I was more than excited to go.

The experience made me realize how big the international community in Tashkent really is. Up until now, I’ve felt a bit trapped in my 10 x 10 block neighborhood. I know the few places to tell a taxi to take me, I know the route I walk to work, or the market, but other than that I feel like a small speck in a large city. I can’t even start to think about what lies beyond the city. I want to see the country side so badly, and it will happen next weekend on a trip to the mountains, and a few days away in Samarkand and Urgut.

Until then, my furry cockroach friends and I patiently await the hot water and city central heat to turn on.

Love Love.

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