4th of July in the Land of Plov

It was another sweltering day in Bukhara, and the temperatures topped out at around 108 degrees.  I’ve been told that this is cool compared to how it will be here in a couple of weeks.  At any rate, I’ve fallen right in with the locals, and taken to napping in the afternoon.  Since I’ve got a couple more days here, I’ve decided to really take my time, and absorb all that I can from just a couple of sites per day.  I spent a couple of hours sketching at the mosque in the photo above.  Unfortunately, I also had a bit of an upset stomach all day, so I took it particularly easy, not venturing too far from my hotel room, with its pristine bathroom.

While out and about today, I met a local who invited me to his family home for dinner.  It was a little different than I expected, so read the captions below.

Happy Independence Day!  Here are the photos:

The door to my hotel could still be mistaken for the door to the medrassa that it once was.

There are a few covered bazaars here that are naturally ventilated through occuli in their domed roofs. This is a view within one, looking back towards the city.

The Kalon Minaret, pictured here, was built in 1127, and is one of the only structure in the region that was not destroyed by Chinggis Khan when he swept through here. He was astonished at its height.

The Kalon Mosque is a huge complex at the base of the minaret.

The courtyard is large enough to hold 10,000 people.

Surrounding the courtyard is a maze-like series of vaulted galleries.

I have no idea what originally took place in these galleries, but the soviets used them as a warehouse.

The vaulted spaces would make a great place for hide and seek.

There is a quiet formal simplicity to these spaces that is hardly at odds with modernism (if one blurs one's eyes, and forgets about all of the ornamentation).

Mulberry trees, like the one under which this photos was taken, are important symbols throughout Central Asia. I've encountered important historical specimens from Turpan, all the way to Bukhara. They frequently occupy the courtyards of mosques.

A view back up to the plaza and beyond.

The medrassa opposite this door is still active. As I was leaving the mosque, prayers were soon to begin, and a number of young scholars were rushing across the courtyard.

This city is full of these narrow passageways.

My dinner was prepared at this stove in the courtyard of a man I met earlier in the day.

My dinner: plov, salad, bread, and delicious melon. After receiving the invitation to come to this man's family home for dinner, I assumed that I would be eating with the family. Instead, they set up a table for me in the courtyard, and all retreated into the house.

My only companions for dinner were two cats. This one wasn't much company.

When I had finished eating, and was enjoying some tea, the man and his wife finally came out for a little conversation, and persistent attempts to sell me some scarves.

While taking a couple of photos of the Abdul Aziz Khan Medrassa, this local youth ran over to get in the picture.

Seeing the fun that he was having, his friends quickly rushed over to get in on the action.

This medrassa, which is still active, is hidden behind these fortress-like walls. I wish that I could get inside.

The city cooled down significantly towards sunset, and the light made walking around a treat.

The streets wind up and down over the small hills of the city. I would assume that these mounds actually contain layers of artifacts from ancient Bukharans.

Future swindlers. The girl on the left asked me to take this photo, and then tried to hit me up for ice cream money. I think that she must have been a younger cousin of the persistent women who kept trying to get me to buy scarves today. Kids constantly ask me to take their photos in this town, but this was the first time that one of them demanded payment. I reluctantly bought them the ice cream, and hope that the other little rascals in town don't catch on.

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3 thoughts on “4th of July in the Land of Plov

  1. So did you get me a scarf?? hahaha! One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in your photos is that there seem to be very few people milling about the city, is this because it is so hot and everyone is inside or in the shade? I remember you said this is a touristy city, so I figured there would be hoards of people at these sites (like when we think of Venice being a touristy city).

    One of my favorite photos so far is the first one of the arches (I believe it is the 7th photo), I would love to get that framed for our house when you come home!

    Strange that you had to eat alone when that family invited you to their house for dinner, do you think it is because they couldn’t afford enough food for the whole family? Was it good?

    • I think that the high tourist season is past because of the heat, but there’s a lot of infrastructure for tourists. I see more tourists in the morning and the evening, and during the day, it’s completely deserted around here. It’s certainly nothing like Venice, though.

      The mother in the family was also busy making food for everyone else, so they had plenty of food. It was much better than the food that I would have gotten in a restaurant in this town, but that’s not saying much. As my guidebook says, “Nobody comes to Bukhara for the food.”

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