Al Mar’a women’s magazine in Oman, asked me to write a story for their feature “My City”. I was greatly honored to participate in this project, and spend a few evening in solitude organizing my thoughts for this piece. My biggest challenge was fitting everything I was eager to express into merely 600 words. Well, it will be published at the end of the month- for now enjoy the “raw” cut…

“So where are you from?” is the second question I get asked, right after the new acquaintance finds out my name. “I am from Uzbekistan” I sheepishly reply, making a mental note to carefully pronounce every syllable so that it is not confused with Kazakhstan or Pakistan.  A mixture of exclamations and “Oh, The Silk Route, Tashkent, Bukhara, Amir Timur” usually follows this revelation.
Uzbekistan is indeed a country with rich heritage, its ancient urban cultural centers of Bukhara, Chiwa and Samarkand. Although my roots extend deep into Russia and Ukraine, I proudly sport a sincere smile when I hear heartwarming comments about the people of Tashkent and the flourishing development of the country- which I consider home.

A country that is by some associated with the former USSR, the Aral Sea and continuous socio-economic setbacks- I remember with the fondest memories sewed together with gentle smiles, helping hands and delicious meals. Colorful flashbacks of a carefree childhood in the capital-Tashkent, float by in the shape of my grandmother’s house, Uzbek bread, cotton and icy snowflakes.
As a child, I acquired unconditional love for my hometown. I grew patriotic and appreciative of the busy city life in the capital of Uzbekistan; the crowded market places, the seasonal vegetables and fruits; the hotmess of it all. When I was 10 years old my family moved to Oman  where I completed my education and remain to this day, eagerly returning to my home town every chance I get and hungrily savoring every moment of my presence there.
Although many parallels can be drawn between Oman and Uzbekistan- climate and nature are not amongst these. Perfectly balanced seasons, from chilly spring showers to snowy winters, and all the goodness in between can be found in Tashkent. Nature’s best is at your fingertips just outside the capital- majestic Tyan Shan Mountain ranges are an attractive base for campers, hikers, skiers and snow boarders from all around the globe.  However one does not need to venture far for a glimpse of greenery as the capital is bursting with vibrant plantations, ancient oak trees and carefully land shafted lawns. Fountains and monuments are also found on every corner, designated areas are available for leisure, and parks are well maintained and equipped with rides and attractions for all ages. An evening in the capital never passes uneventfully; a simple walk through the city center will leave an everlasting impression of a modern city with history breathing through every brick and stone.
The sense of “life” in the capital is almost overwhelming and majestic in comparison to Muscat. Ever so modern, yet green and peaceful- Tashkent changes by the minute, eager to catch up with the world; supermarkets, business centers and malls are springing up like mushrooms after rain. During my most recent trip I had trouble recognizing streets and whole areas at a time due to drastic changes in infrastructure.
What has not changed is the atmosphere of utmost hospitability and sincerity.  The citizens of Tashkent are still busily buzzing round around crowded streets, jamming sardine-like into busses and metro trains and joyously attending parades and festivals. The aromas of the profound national dish- Palov (similar to the beloved Biryani) continue to surround street cafes and the delicious barbeques of every variety are used to lure pedestrians.
The gentle simplicity of life in Uzbekistan is the key reason for my nostalgia. It remains pure, frugal and unchallenged by the hype of modernizations. Whether it is the lady selling homemade pastries just outside her house or the a group of 5th graders building a tree house from scratch- life in Tashkent is perfect as it is; scaled down, random and simple in the most wonderful way.