April 28, 2013
The plan was to go early to the city of Kokand. It had been made clear to us that they wanted to make plov, the national dish of Uzbekistan, for us, but they wanted us back at 2 or 3. That just wasn’t reasonable, so we promised to be back between 4 and 6. We had our breakfast of lagman improvised with pasta and then the grandfather dropped us off at the bus station.
The guidebook claimed 1:15 to the city, but it took nearly twice as long since it was market day and people seemed to be getting on and off every 200 yards or so. The weather was closer to an English winter day than spring in Central Asia. It was in the 50’s, overcast, and windy. We made our way to the historical sites, which were nice but not overwhelming in scale or in historical value. Arnaud was even less impressed because he had already been to Bukhara and Samarkand. The rest of the day really was spent wandering the city, looking for food, trying to stay dry, and avoiding the trip back to Fergana. We went through the whole spectrum of topics as we walked and distracted ourselves from the painfully slow bus rides that day. Shocking as this might be coming from me, it was just nice to talk. It was also nice not to be drinking tea incessantly.
When we got back to Fergana, we had another wander to avoid the suffocating hospitality, employing a trip to the internet cafe to waste more time. We smirked and chuckled at our adolescent behavior, but the mind must stay young for the body to do so as well, I say.
We finally resigned ourselves to spending the rest of the evening at the house and arrived at 5:45. At least we hadn’t broken our promise. They had, of course, waited for us, and started the plov when we arrived. This is no small undertaking, so we didn’t didn’t get to eat it for another hour or so. Never fear, there was more tea and bread to be had- the grandfather was determined to make us the rest of the loaf of bread he had started by slicing the rest of it and leaving it in a pile near Arnaud and I. We refused to take the bait. The plov, however was worth the wait, and we ate as much as we could, given that our portion was ridiculously large.
The rest of the evening was spent watching Uzbek Opera Idol, and Uzbek music videos. One of Uzbekistan’s top pop icons is the President Karimov’s daughter and her latest hit has a cameo voice over from Gerard Depardieu. I guess it’s to help him pay all of those French taxes he’s trying to avoid. Well… Arnaud tells me that the REAL reason he’s trying to move to Belgium is because he has pending litigation and needs to pay his lawyers.
Again, I sat quietly as they talked around me, talking to Arnaud almost exclusively. So, when it was time for bed, I was more than ready.