Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Uzbeks & Kazakhs

Two Uzbek students I befriended at Samford University: Timour and Ulugbek.

With my great-uncle, Jim Vann, on a trip to the former USSR during my winter break in 1993. After a prolonged layover in Germany, we eventually flew into Russia and then made our way to Central Asia for a fascinating journey and a chance to visit the families of Timour and Ulugbek. They resided in Tashkent, a city of 2.5 million and the capital of Uzbekistan. Germany itself did not disappoint. Uncle Jim and I visited Beethoven's birth home, Bonn. We actually toured the home museum and saw the bedroom in which the musical genius was born. Two other very memorable moments: giving our Moscow taxi driver a bottle of vodka instead of rubles, of which we had none; being secretly spirited onto a plane in remote Uzbekistan only to find out later a bribe was paid by our handlers.

The antidote for jet leg was lots of hot tea, rice pilaf and body massages.

On a side trip to neighboring Kazakhstan with Timour. We stopped by his cousin's home in the then-capital city of Alma-Aty. Nowadays, Astana is the capital of the oil and mineral rich country made internationally famous by Borat. Next to Uncle Jim is Kamil. Next to me is Ildar, the son of the car driver who took us to the mountain to ski.
One treat was snow-skiing in the Alma-Aty mountains. We had our memorable moments. For me, it was falling and slightly injuring my leg, only to be rescued by a ski instructor who guided me to a cabin where I drank hot tea and ate some smoke-cured fish.

1 comment:

  1. Allen==I think that is Kamil Gazizov next to me and his cousin next to you. I am not sure??? I think he is the son of the driver of the car...who took us up the mountain to ski. Later, I corresponded with this guy who
    was studying in the U. S. of A. Timur told me about him and gave me his address and I was surprised to know he was the young lad....who rode up with us. Timur said he was very smart and I have no idea where he is or what he is
    doing. I never met him person to person...the best I remember. jwv