Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 159 (Uzbekistan): Tashkent (collateral damage and Dinara’s wedding)

This was the day of Dinara’s wedding - and also the day I was to get my Tajik visa (again).

Wedding celebrations start early here … as a matter of fact they start at 6 am. A bit of an early start given that I wanted to rest up. But how often do you get to participate in an Uzbek wedding?

The day starts off with a brief - half hour - invite of all people that cannot be invited to the wedding at night. This is a strictly male affair, the only woman I saw was Dinara’s mother towards the very end of things. It is also the opportunity for a sermon. Let’s just say that it was an interesting sermon about the role of women and the like … and the age of the imam couldn’t have been more than my own. So, after listening to the sermon (thanks for the translation, Ravshan) we had plov, a rice dish with lots of meat at 6:30 am. Good stuff to get you going. Then, one table after another gets up to leave and that was that. It is also the part of the day that the bride’s parents are organizing. The rest is up to the groom’s parents - the bride basically and most of the time, physically, moving into the family of her new husband. Thanks to Ravshan, a lot of the things that I saw made a lot more sense or were even comprehensible to me.

We still had time for the Tajik visa run to start and so Ravshan and I continued our conversation at his home until I dropped off my passport and hoped for the best. The hoping part took place in the city of Tashkent until I got a phone call later on in the day. I had high hopes that the pasting of the visas would happen today as I had not received a phone call that they wouldn’t do it. But when Oleg called he said that it was a no-go. Word had just been had that no new visas will be issued until September 1. Bonk!!! The official reason. Russian President Medvedev is in the Tajik capital Dushanbe for meeting of the Shanghai Coordination Council and thus no new visas will be issued. What? I would like to scream. You have to be kidding. The meeting will be over way before I would enter so that makes little sense. I am guessing this has to do with the Uzbek border closure and independence day festivities and no one I talk to can understand why there would be collateral damage by including the foreigners who happen to be in Uzbekistan at the time. So whatever the real reason may be (strange thoughts of an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I think), what I found even more strange was that the consulate accepted the passport and kept it all day long only to come back at the end of the day. I could have applied for the Chinese visa instead. But no such luck. No one really understands that move and the Medvedev-talk sounds highly implausible.

So, after the continuation of the visa woes, it was time for the wedding. Ravshan and I made our way there and it was festive to say the least.

It was from what I gather a rather modern wedding and looked rather similar in some ways to Western wedding, but still had a good number of surprises in store.

A tagging off of musicians and other artists. They came and went and came and went. As a matter of fact, most of them ran once their performance was over - from one wedding to the other. Traditional music instruments were followed by traditional dancing and then 1960s music from Uzbekistan - and then more modern music. All a lot of good fun. And all very, very loud.

The Uzbek state of course gave its blessing as well. And was talking very, very fast. Maybe she had to go to a different wedding still as well.


And needless to say, there was lots of good food and drinks …

And most importantly, a happy couple …


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