I tried to write this post a few days back, but the words kept on appearing melancholy and somewhat disturbing. So I gave myself a little more time to attain a sense of cheerfulness in order to look back at what’s happened with a sense of humor.

I recently spent 16 long, cold days in Uzbekistan. This unplanned visit was largely to fault on my expiring exit visa which is compulsory for the passport to be a valid travelling document. Us, citizens of this wonderful country have the honor of coming back home-regardless of where on the planet we are, once every two years to obtain this document.
Although I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to see my family and friends, I cannot help feeling cheated and abused by “the system”.  To cut a long story short, the paranoia that has spread deep into the roots of “the system” has caused them to take longer to process the documents and interrogate me extensively. To make matters worse, I was forced to write an explanatory letter along the lines of “I promise not to engage in acts of prostitution outside of Uzbekistan…” at which I had to giggle right into the fierce face of the highly authoritative gentleman who at that moment was deciding my fate. I mean, seriously- so as long as I do it in my native land- everyone is happy?

To bring some justice to the matter, I must say that the girls of the nation have immensely screwed up by actively practicing the oldest profession on earth in the UAE. The rest of us common folk, especially females between 16-40 years, now have to be reduced to ridicule by the officials when acquiring an exit visa. Kudos to “the system” for trying to save what little untainted reputation the country but measures taken appear a little extreme and frankly terrifying.

Never before had I felt so trapped and claustrophobic in Tashkent. Knowing that you do not have your documents and cannot travel at your own free will is a nerve wrecking experience. We must have grown accustomed to the freedom and security that living in the Sultanate provides- hey how about going to Qatar this weekend? I know a fantastic Sheesha place in Doha that we could check out.

Three days before I flew back it snowed. Waking up in the morning blinded by the immense white cover of everything in the streets is certainly reviving. I watched carefree children squealing with delight as they drag sledges behind into the blizzard. I put on two jumpers and a hooded winter jacket and went outside to snap away shots of fluffy snowflakes dancing in the air. Amidst the winter wonderland and the warmth of a house I grew up in- for the first time ever Uzbekistan didn’t feel like home.

I realized that I am no longer attached to anything materialistic in Uzbekistan- not the food that I used to love, not the city or the places I longed to visit. If I could I would tear away a handful of people and move them closer to me- ultimately they are the only reason I would ever come back there.

The entire vacation felt like a much needed visit to the dentist. You come in knowing what painful endeavors lay ahead. Occupying the most comfortable seat in the waiting room, you begin flipping through dentistry magazines and occasionally glance at Teletubbies on the TV. You check your watch a few dozen times, make frequent trips to the bathroom and come back to the magazine. Fully aware of the cold sweat breaking out on your forehead you bravely venture towards the excruciating torture once your name is called out, eager to get it over and done with.

-Yup, that’s exactly what my winter holidays felt like.
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