19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA
Working Abroad

andijan | uzbekistan

It’s not the flocked wallpaper or the massive cream and gold Persian rug on the floor nor the drapes embroidered with crystals beneath the chandelier.  It’s not the red velveteen toshaks with their matching pillows.  It’s not the eighth floor of the new building still under construction.  It’s not the ten liter water bottles Ebrahim carries from Macro or the uchuch for 3000 som to the INCETTI.  It’s not the shop windows of manikins in blue and pink floor-length hijab next to those in skinny jeans and tunics.  It’s not the taxi pit with the guys yelling Asaka! Baluchi! Jalaquduq!  It’s not the smell of petrol or of shashlik grilling on skewers in front of Mosaffa or of samosas frying in a vat of oil on Amir Segur.  It’s not the great statue of Babur mounted on his horse in front of the Andijan train station nor even because the speeding taxis down the double wide street blink their headlights so you can cross.   It’s because the students in a class you walk into stand up to greet you. Because in the registration office, the beautiful girl with an indigo band beneath her white scarf, eyes lined in black, takes your US passport–the first she’s ever held–in shaking hands. Because walking down the street, a boy in a black jeans jacket and running shoes asks what’s your name?” and says he’s never spoken to a foreigner before.  Because when you get into a taxi, the driver greets you Asallahmalecum and because the old man in his square black dopi sitting in the backseat smiles at you with a hand over his heart, Because Eshnut in his great fur hat greets you at the gate with a grin, hosht kellisiz.  Because on the way back from your teacher observation in Quergonteppa, Olim stops for the Valley’s famous lemons and because Shokizjon invites you to his family’s home to make sumulak for Navruz. Because Tamila takes a damas all the way from Asaka to meet you at Mr. Arabic for lesson planning and because Saodat runs to get a key made for your red-carpeted office where an American flag and an Uzbek flag in gold plastic holders stand paired at the front of the massive desk.  It’s because the girl who cleans it wishes you good health, a long life, and much success in rhyming Uzbek, smiling with her grill of gold, offering you a round loaf of naan speckled with sesame seeds. It’s because when your husband Ebrahim goes out into the street, everyone he meets calls him Brother.