Oct 15, 2008
|October 15, Wednesday – Khiva
We spent the day exploring the mosques, museums, madressas, minarets and palaces in the old city. It is geared to tourism and only by walking the residential lanes along the inside wall do you gain a flavor for what life was like in centuries past. But the central tourist area offers restored grandeur on a scale you seldom experience while traveling.
The data on my digital camera photos indicates that I walked the city from 8:33 AM until 6:50 PM and kept 312 of the 450 images I took during the day. I took a brief break for lunch at an outdoor café that had one item on its menu which I judged to be lamb and rice. It was tasty and well tolerated by my stomach.
There were a couple of wedding processions on the main streets. At select locations the procession would halt and there would be an interlude of dancing and singing. The bride never seems to get involved in the celebration.
Brides throughout the Middle East and much of Central Asia never smile and display a countenance that suggests to me that their wedding day is a highly unwelcome ordeal. In my search for a reason for this apparent sadness, I have heard only one explanation that sounds somewhat plausible; their sad faces are a sign of respect for their parents who have nurtured and sustained them to this point in their life and, now, they are leaving that comfortable setting forever in exchange for the uncertainties that I suppose are universal among new brides.
As the light is best for photography at sunset, I revisited several places in the old city at dusk. When it became too dark for photography I tried to take a shortcut back to guesthouse and became hopelessly lost in a maze of backstreets in the northeast quadrant of the city. Whenever I passed someone in the street I would verbalize the name of my guesthouse in English. I was often met with blank stares but occasionally the person would point in one direction or another.
Eventually I came across a young woman who understood a little English. She suggested that she accompany me back to the hotel. I wasn’t sure if she was providing this service as an act of kindness or for the economic considerations that might be involved. By the time we arrived at the guest house, it was apparent that money was a consideration and thus, I gave her a generous gift for leading me home.
In similar situations in other counties of the world, a woman offering to get you back to your hotel would be a prelude to her offering a smorgasbord of other services. This is not the case in Uzbekistan, particularly, Khiva.
I hope you will have a look at the photos for today as Khiva is a remarkable place. I will only subject you to 2 or 3 dozen of the best among the 450 images I captured today!