By Christopher Aslan Alexander

The Silk street conjures pictures of the unique and the unknown. such a lot visitors easily move alongside it. Brit Chris Alexander selected to dwell there. Ostensibly writing a guidebook, Alexander came upon lifestyles on the middle of the glittering madrassahs, mosques and minarets of the walled urban of Khiva - a distant desolate tract oasis in Uzbekistan - immensely attractive, and stayed. Immersing himself within the language and wealthy cultural traditions Alexander discovers an international torn among Marx and Mohammed - a spot the place veils and vodka, red meat and polygamy freely mingle - opposed to a backdrop of forgotten carpet designs, crumbling yet marvelous Islamic structure and scenes drawn immediately from "The Arabian Nights". followed through a wide eco-friendly parrot, a ginger cat and his adoptive Uzbek relations, Alexander recounts his efforts to rediscover the misplaced artwork of conventional weaving and dyeing, and the method setting up a self-sufficient carpet workshop, applying neighborhood girls and disabled humans to coach as apprentices. "A Carpet journey to Khiva" sees Alexander being stripped bare at a former Soviet adolescence camp, crawling via silkworm droppings in an try to checklist their life-cycle, holed up within the British Museum learning carpet designs dormant for part a millennia, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing common dyes from sacks of opium in Northern Afghanistan, bluffing his manner via an impromptu model of "My center Will cross On" for nationwide Uzbek television and looking sanctuary as an anti-Western revolt fed on the Kabul carpet bazaar. it truly is an unforgettable real go back and forth tale of a trip to the guts of the unknown and the unforeseen friendship one guy came upon there.

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They tried to simplify their language 40 A home by the harem for me, and as I grew in my comprehension of Uzbek, I learnt more about them both. Zulhamar was originally from the village of Yangi Arik, or New Canal, where people were, she assured me, more honest and hard-working than the inhabitants of Khiva. Her father had died when she was still young, so Zulhamar had looked after her numerous younger siblings as her mother went off to work. Zulhamar cooked and cared for the family and learnt how to weave carpets and kilims (woven floor coverings).

I could rent the main living room for the princely sum of around $10 a month, sharing the bathroom and kitchen with an occasional guest from Tashkent. I was keen to move in as soon as possible, but the landlady insisted I gain approval first from the Ministry of Culture in Tashkent. I persuaded Lukas to visit them next time he was there, sure he would charm them with his fluent Uzbek. ‘Maybe it will be possible,’ had been the response. ’ This sounded straightforward, but I failed to understand that I had been given an Uzbek ‘no’.

He lived in Kosmabot, just outside Khiva, and his house was easy to identify, as there was a pile of huge tree trunks against his front wall. These were black elm – a hardwood getting scarcer due to disease. I asked him if they planted new saplings to replace the trees felled. They didn’t. But he assured me they would never chop down one of these ancient trees if there was so much as a leaf still growing, for that would be a terrible sin. I was ushered inside and took off my shoes as Zafar poured water over my hands from a copper jug that had been warming on a stove at the entrance.

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