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Digital Sketches

digital citizen media, ict with a focus on Central Asia and the Middle East.

The suprise starts at Tashkent International Airport (Yuzhniy). It is way too big considering the amount of users. The first few days in Uzbekistan – we started last week in Nukus, West Uzbekistan – I thought: wow, impressive building or square but where are the people? But then it starts to look familiar. My first impression proved symptomatic for the towns of this huge country with only 28 million inhabitants. The boulevards, the hotels, the stadiums, the parks, the underground; they all seem several sizes too big.

I know that size matters in some situations but the greatness of all the pubic facilities seems to be chosen to impress. To boost more than to accommodate and serve the Uzbek citizens in a comfortable way. Tashkent is a city that does not allow people to take pictures in the (beautiful) underground. The park opposite hotel Uzbekistan is green, has benches and all things a neat park needs. Everything is in order and brand clean. Every stone, tile, statue and grassroot is properly placed. The statue of Amir Temur is lit brightly by strong spotligts. It is surrounded by about six benches. In the evening men of a certain age play chess and back gammon. On every bench three or four men sit, playing in silence. So far I have not seen people entertain themselves or play in public places. I presume this will mostly take place safely behind closed doors. There are fun parks and a handfull of terraces but they are probable too expensive for the mayority. Nobody hangs around on the streets for fun. Than it struck me: these chess players in the park, they are exceptional. The players are so out of tune in this city governed by an obsessive order and cleanliness. They might well be instructed to play from 8 till 10 in the park. Just the way people are ordered to clean the streets or to work in the cotton fields.

Mmmh, if so than one thing is puzzeling. Why are the about ten prostitutes in front of the hotel allowed to wait for their clients? It is a very visible place. Or are prostitutes part of the picture the government wants to communicate of Uzbekistan? Intrigueing. It almost keeps me awake at night. More short stories and photos will follow soon.


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