The search is on for the missing pictures from Tashkent. I am slowly digging my way through the various boxes and files where either the memory cards or the images might be 'securely' stashed.

In Tashkent we stayed at the Sheraton Hotel, normally occupied by oil people from all over, but only lightly occupied when we arrived. Below are some of the pictures of the delightful ladies who worked there, or their offspring (who also worked there). In Tashkent we were thinking of entering Afghanistan, which was at that time split between the Northern Alliance, i.e. the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Turkmen, and the rest of the country that was in Taliban hands. The prospect of crossing from one to the other, essentially two hostile military lines, was not particularly inviting, and having traveled through Afghanistan since then, visiting the parts we had been interested in seeing, that were brutalized by the Taliban, would not only have been very enjoyable, but outright dangerous, on top of that, we would have been a prime target for kidnapping. Therefore, in spite of being issued visas in Tashkent, by Taliban Afghanistan, we decided to opt against it.


One of the Sheraton employes. In her off time, when not working here, she works for an academic staffer at a museum in Tashkent and does needlepoint, which she said is exported. However, it takes her weeks and sometimes months to do that tedious work Irina, a true red headed (Rus) Viking descendent. Worrying about her hips getting too ample, but at the same time admitting to one hell of a sweet tooth. Also a part-time Sheraton souvenir shop employee.


Since the few women in the group were hardly interested in talking to me, much less being around me, I amused and entertained myself chatting with these three. The ones above were, like all of the female employees, university educated, but being women, had to settle on menial tasks that were below the dignity of Uzbek men. More on that situation, probably not at all unique in that part of the world, later.

The little one below was a real charmer and at one point snatched my reading glasses our of my shirt pocket and clowned around with them. Not much of a photoshoot, with the rudimentary digital camera I had back then, but captured the essence of these young ladies.



It may have changed since 2000, when I was in Tashkent, the subway system, and they do have a pretty good one, uses no signs, directions, maps, whatsoever. Everyone just knows which way to go, where to change trains, and where to get on or off. I got totally lost and when trying to get back to the Sheraton, which has a station close by, had no idea which way to go. There was a young boy on the train, and I asked him if he knew of the Sheraton Hotel. He said, 'You, Sheraton, yes?' I nodded and shrugged and pointed in different directions. He indicated that he knew and would take me there. He rode free, I think. We ended up changing trains, and when he took me out at a station, there, coming up, I saw the Sheraton. I turned, gave him my ballcap and a ballpen (they love that stuff) and a few coins. He immediately put the cap on with a big smile, took the pen, the change, and waved goodbye and went back down to continue to ride to wherever he had been going.


Can't remember where I took this one, but it pretty much shows how things were most of the time


Not too far from the Sheraton, I ended up in the Golden Wing chicken fast food restaurant. This was my most attentive waitress, also degreed and spoke, like most of the ehtnic Russian women, pretty fair English. While I was sitting outside to watch what was going on, I noticed that a man in a suit with an attache case came up and sat at the table next to me. Shortly thereafter, young women, all dressed up and made up, would appear, talk to him, some forms were filled out and changed hands. This would go on in this fashion with one woman after the next. Getting curious, I asked my waitress, who took a moment to explain. The man was a recruiter. He had access to jobs for women (for a fee, naturally) and would select the ones that he thought might be a fit for certain jobs. Talk about low overhead. She told me that that was going on all over town and probably Uzbekistan. Later, because I needed to ship something by DSL curier to the USA, I discovered that the girl who handled that little office position (in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel), had a medical degree, but, being a woman, it was all that she could get, and considered herself very lucky to have that job.


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