Definitely Different!

It’s been seven months—seven months—since I last posted a blog entry.

So much has happened in 7 months. 

The biggest being that I lost my younger brother, Stephen, to suicide. Not a day has gone by that this hasn’t affected me. Blogging about life in Uzbekistan pales next to that. It seems so unimportant, really.

But, sola resurgit vita—Latin for “life alone goes on.” This is a line from an obscure Cat Stevens song that has always resonated with me. It seems especially meaningful these days…

OK. So, where to begin? Life in Uzbekistan right now is very smoky. Everyone here burns their leaves, which, when added to the usual auto exhaust and other air pollution, leads to rather dense air. Nothing like Delhi, mind you, but bad enough that I haven’t been out running for a few weeks. When it rains (ANY day now, they say!), things will clear up, and I can run again without fear that I am doing more harm than good.

After a year and a few months, I am finding myself seeing more of the nuances of life in this remote Central Asian country. Instead of thinking “just strange” when I see some Uzbek way of doing things, I begin to understand how the Uzbek way came into being, and how it might make sense. 

For example, I have complained about the crazy Uzbek drivers on this blog before, but as I have become accustomed to life here, I have adjusted my expectations, and can anticipate the kinds of situations that will occur—and they don’t seem so crazy any more. Traffic here does have its crazy aspects, but then again, so does American traffic. I am able to drive around here without much difficulty. (Long aside: It helped a great deal for me to realize that the appropriate metaphor for Uzbek traffic was water in a stream. When there is something in the stream that blocks the flow—like a branch or a rock on the side of the stream—the water piles up behind it, and then eventually pushes around to one side or the other. This is EXACTLY what happens on Uzbek roads. Someone stops on the side of the road, and the cars back up behind him and then push around him, causing everyone else to adjust. Understanding this makes it a lot easier to manage.)

What it all comes down to, is the fact that things here aren’t necessarily worse than they are in other places. They are definitely different, though! 

Well, OK, it would be nice if the air weren’t quite so dirty.