Tag Archives: Khiva

Stalin’s last stand – Travels in Uzbekistan

Things have never quite returned to pushing the condemned from the top of minarets, but where Mohamed meets Marx, the Soviet regime of terror favoured by Stalin lives on.

The world is largely ignorant of this mumblistan, the seventh most corrupt country in the world, whose government holds so many thousands of innocents in jail under the auspices of the war on terror and whose cotton is boycotted by many western clothes retailers due to slave and child labour concerns.

But the country has extraordinary history. In 1405, within just 30 years, Timur, the country’s national hero, built an empire that stretched from India to Syria, centred on Samarkand, his sumptuous capital. The resplendent buildings of his reign have been restored and rebuilt.

Uzbekistan sounds like an interesting place to visit, no?

This video is split into two parts, due to upload size restrictions.

stalin’s last stand from Tim Way on Vimeo.

stalin’s last stand – part two from Tim Way on Vimeo.

khivan bugs

The feeling of a fly taking a leisurely meander across my cheek is one of the most infuriating I know. These ones are the non-biting type that like shit and hence I blame for my middle section feeling like one large cork that is being extracted in fifteen directions simultaneously from the bottle of Chateau Magrit that is my torso. Stimulating, yet totally devoid of pleasure.

They’re quick too, so there’s never the short-lived pleasure that is achieved with the successful swatting of the mosquito that’s diligently filling up with your haemoglobin. At least you win the skirmish with mosquitoes, flies win the war without getting even a knick.

If I wasn’t going on about flies, I’d be going on about hornets. The world’s largest hornets infest the restaurant across the square, mottled in the evening sun. I’d be there if one of Khiva’s endless torrent of summer weddings hadn’t taken over the place for the evening. Bride and groom looking dour and drawn after a day’s walking around the picture-perfect city under the 40+ degree sun. Still being teenagers, they have the stamina to last.

As it is, I’m sat under the essential shade of a birch tree. Uzbek pop music to accompany the wedding is pumping away at a volume that is disagreeably loud at 200 metres. There is a passing whiff of chicken shit and children have gathered around the spectacle of a man typing away on his laptop and words appearing on the screen. Never before have I seen word processing as a spectator sport.

I don’t necessarily object to chicken shit; it reminds me of holiday’s on my grandparent’s Newfoundland farm as a child. I’m the only person I know who feels this way, but on occasions like this – it is extremely useful.

When travelling, the difference is often the mundane, not the well known.