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November 8, 2002
|We act like shopkeepers: when we see a tourist we pounce on them like dogs hungry for company. In Bukhara we spotted two tourists, the only ones we've seen in days, and struck up a conversation. This led to a plan to hire a taxi together and drive across the desert to Khiva, the last big Silk Road city in Uzbekistan. Our new companions are a newlywed couple, a British diplomat who works in Moscow and his Ukrainian wife who is a marketer for women's fashion. You might think that diplomacy is full of intrigue but women's fashion in Moscow is much more dangerous. Our car whisked us across the barren desert wasteland that stretches until Khiva. The weather turned wintry cold. We stopped for lunch at a lonely desert outpost, near Khiva, where a stretch of the Amu-Darya River touches the desert but doesn't turn it green. The women inside served us pelmini and river fish, a strange dish for the desert, and then told us to 'come again.'|
Red boots, disco pants, and a wild print dress - anything goes in Uzbekistan!
The food in Uzbekistan (and Central Asia) is variations on the same theme - plov, pelmini, laghman, tea, shashlyk. Bukhara's plov tastes the best, it's rice mixed with raisins, a squash-like vegetable, and mutton. Pelminis are mutton dumplings. Laghman is noodle soup made with vegetables and a few pieces of mutton. What do you do if you don't like mutton? Lose weight.
Old town Khiva looks deserted. You know why? Because we're in the middle of the Karakum desert and nothing's out here.