Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nukus--Last Day in Uzbekistan 2010

My last day in Uzbekistan was in the far west of the country. The KyrgyzUzbek conflict was on the far eastern Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan border. Later, I felt I was letting ZUMA, my press agency, down by not photographing the conflict. I'm not much of a war photographer. Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s challenged my tolerance for photographing suffering. I'm an "ordinary life" kind of photographer. For instance, in Nukus, I was fascinated by the metal snakes in a neighborhood playground. I like a fake snake.
As for signs of danger, be it snake or man, a missing manhole cover makes me nervous enough.
I am interested in survival in the aftermath of difficult circumstances. That's why I'm attracted to the former Soviet Union (FSU). I photograph how people are getting along more than how people are not getting along. For example, I'm happy for this high-end street musician who is all amped-up and ready for karaoke on an empty Nukus street.
I was warned not to eat ice cream in Nukus. I did want to support his ice cream seller, though.
Now, I am in southern France near where many people died a couple of days ago in flash flooding. Again, I am not being a good ZUMA Press member. I'm in Aix-en-Provence teaching photography for 6 weeks.
I think this Asia Central blog will again switch back to The Coruscating Camera on Wordpress. I don't like the way Blogger/Blogspot functions. I recently posted France pictures at The Coruscating Camera and will continue to look back at recent FSU work there. So please check it out and subscribe.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Silence and Symbiosis

The first thing that struck me about Khiva was the absence. It's like a great civilization just moved out of town. The next impression was of the presence. The spirit of the place, as well as the fact of its survival over time, is all encompassing. The street vendors don't shout out at you. The children whisper hellos. There is no loud music playing. I've seen a few internationals, but there seems to be more tour buses than tourists. It is hot, so maybe everybody is ensconced in their air conditioned hotels. The picture below is basically the view from our hotel window.
This picture is actually taken from the street. Our hotel is closer to the minaret with a view onto the plaza in front of it. I look down at a row of merchants tables offering carpets, hairy hats and orange soda. This is an incredible place to be. We are inside an old walled city.

These are photos I took yesterday. Our day started at 4:30 AM with a rush to the airport in Tashkent. During our hour and a half flight to Urgench we sat on the airplane watching half the plane (not our half) get served breakfast. We got Fanta and a piece of bread. We think that half the plane was on a package tour that included food.
We finally got a delicious lunch at the sanatorium of the University in Urgench.

I got a great tour of the facilities of the sanatorium. Students can calm down from the stress of college life by accessing several therapeutic devices including the above headache reliever.

Oh, I'm getting notices about how my connection is intermittent. Bad blogability has been a problem throughout the whole trip. I'll simply throw on a couple of more pictures from yesterday and hope I can upload this post.

More later...