Central Asia
Karzhantau - Transversing the Ridge

Karzhantau – Transversing the Ridge

In the beginning of April, three alpinists (mountain climbers) from Uzbekistan made another ascent to the peak of Mingbulak, 2, 824 meters above sea level. “Mingbulak” means “thousand springs”, and is the highest point of the Karzhantau ridge. Karzhantau is the northern spur of the Talas Alatau system of mountains in Western Tien Shan.  Tien...
At the Tomb of Imam Asim

At the Tomb of Imam Asim

    Mystics seem to have a penchant for seeking out remote locations. Perhaps out-of-the-way spots are more conducive to contemplation, and they add an element of enigma when chosen as a final resting place. The tomb of Imam Asim, in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Province, conforms to type. North of the oasis city of Hotan,...
Hunger Strike in Uzbekistan: No Justice, No Food

Hunger Strike in Uzbekistan: No Justice, No Food

The  (unregistered) Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan (HRAU) has reported, “On February 26, 2013, an activist of HRAU, Larisa Gregoryev and her 16 year-old son, Gregory Gregoryev, embarked on a hunger strike in protest against an outrage by the law-enforcement authorities of Uzbekistan. Policemen have tortured them, brought them to unfair criminal and administrative liability;...
Corruption and Transportation: How to Make a Profit in Uzbekistan

Corruption and Transportation: How to Make a Profit in Uzbekistan

In connection with the breakdown of the autoloaders at the customs warehouse “Tovarka” (“Merchandise”) there is a critical situation there: people still have to wait in long lines and pay large amounts of money for loading their containers.  Two entrepreneurs tell the details of the situation, on condition of anonymity. The Uzbek customs warehouse “Tovarka”...
The Bukharian Jews: The Story of a Mizrahi Community

The Bukharian Jews: The Story of a Mizrahi Community

Even at first glance, Aron Aronov has a demanding presence you can’t forget. He doesn’t stand very tall and he dresses in plain dark clothing, but there is something about the way he looks at you that is captivating. His gaze drills into your eyes, and he speaks rapidly, his furrowed brows moving in tune...
Working as a Journalist in a Repressive Political Regime

Working as a Journalist in a Repressive Political Regime

“I was always at risk of being arrested by secret service agents. They hated independent journalists,” says Aida Eizeman, a former journalist from Uzbekistan. “There are eight journalists currently languishing in their dungeons. When they told me that they can easily imprison me, I left my homeland. I have lived as a refugee in Idaho. Now...
The Annotated Adventures of an Apparent Academic

The Annotated Adventures of an Apparent Academic

Below are my SUUUPER LONG travelogues from this summer. Read them at your leisure, or not at all! Take care, ladies and gentlemen! Adventurously, Jaimee Dusty Desert I look out my window at the dusty mesquite tree. There is no puff of wind in this desert to shake it. I hear the sound of voices....
Stories of Migration and Globalization from the Subcontinent

Stories of Migration and Globalization from the Subcontinent

Zurich – Dubai On a recent flight from Zurich to Dubai, I had a couple from Switzerland sitting next to me going on their honeymoon to Réunion. They asked me where they could find the movies in German. They wouldn’t understand English, not to mention have any interest in the selection of Arab, Hindi, Telugu,...
Coffeehouse 3.0: Of Spies & Bloggers in Our Midst

Coffeehouse 3.0: Of Spies & Bloggers in Our Midst

picture credit: Molapse - http://molapse.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/molapse-is-back-in-analogue-form/   When farangi find out that I’m a professional blogger working on Central Asia, they usually pause and ask, with all sincerity, “they have the Internet out there?” I’m not trying to make a dig at my fellow Occidentals. It’s true that, for one reason or another, Central Asia tends to...
Fifteen Deaths at Seven Kilometers

Fifteen Deaths at Seven Kilometers

  It was late April 2011. The air in Belbulak, the Almaty satellite city we temporarily called home, was coarse with burning garbage. Dust hung along the unpaved roads. The refuse of the winter’s toss-in-the-snow disposal system was emerging rotted and unclaimed. The smell through town was enough enough to turn our eyes watery and to...
The Word in the Ruins

The Word in the Ruins

  “Poetry is the queen of language, the sovereign of the word. […] Language has free will in it and it warms the heart with the roundness and perfection of its form.” So says Abai Qunanbaiuli, perhaps the most well-known of the nineteenth century Central Asian men of letters. This epigram is taken from his...
Several Loud Cracks in an Almaty Bazaar

Several Loud Cracks in an Almaty Bazaar

On the lowest level of the largest bazaar in Almaty sits a small, unassuming restaurant. A square window and a lone door are the only things marking the business from the rows of nut vendors and thrift marts flanking the eatery. The interior’s not much more memorable: white-washed walls, a handful of tables, and a...