I’ve taken a detour from Pakistan and am writing from the desert town of Bukhara. I’ll resume with more posts from Pakistan in a few days.
The Flight from Islamabad to Tashkent last week was only two hours but it felt like entering another world. It’s quite the change from South to Central Asia. The Uzbek’s are incredibly friendly and when people ask where I’m from all I have to say is New York and they totally relate. Many Uzbek’s have immigrated to Brooklyn and Queens and some of the faces here remind me of aunts and uncles growing up in Brooklyn. My grandmother is from Russia so it feels like a bit of a homecoming. It’s a quite a change from the California centric SE Asia I’ve come to know.
It’s wedding (they are called Toys) season now. Elaborate shops sell bridal dresses everywhere you look. These huge parties with four or five hundred people help support and sustain local musicians and at the same time keep a tradition alive.
In the desert city of Bukhara there are still a couple of hundred Jews left. Most of them immigrated to Israel and the United States when the Soviet Union collapsed but they still maintain and practice Judaism in the midst of an Islamic society. This morning I had the privilege of attending a prayer service in one of the Synagogues. The men, from 25 to 70 years of age recited prayers in Tajik and Farsi- the local language spoken in the western part of Uzbekistan with some Hebrew mixed in for the blessings. They were kind enough to allow me to witness and photograph this sacred and solemn ritual.