Friday, 19 September 2008

UZBEKISTAN - The Story of the Hot Water

Trials and Tribulations

I'm now into day 5 without any hot water in my apartment. The locals tell me that this is a regular event that happens for approximately 1 week every Autumn and then again in Spring.  Hot water is pumped to Tashkent's apartment blocks via a city wide system of pipes (if you live in a house then you have your own boiler so aren't affected).  Apparently the pipes are being flushed out in preparation for the winter when hot water is pumped to the apartments for heating systems.  This story sounds rather odd though and I have yet to figure out why they would need to turn the hot water off again in the spring when I would think that flushing would not be required.  Anyway, this year I came prepared for this scenario and bought a camping solar shower with me.  It means getting up a little earlier and boiling a jug of water, mixing it with cold water (I've still got plenty of this) and then hanging the system up over my bath tub.   I know I am a whining/spoilt westerner but I really do love having a hot shower.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Vote for Obama

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for "The Vagina Monologues", wrote the following about Sarah Palin.

 Drill, Drill, Drill

 I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

 I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

 But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

 I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

 Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."

 Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.

 She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

 Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States . She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

 Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

 Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

 I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S. , but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

 If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

 Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

 Eve Ensler

September 5, 2008

Thursday, 11 September 2008

UZBEKISTAN - Football; Australia beat Uzbekistan 1-0


I just got back from the football match between Australia and Uzbekistan.  Talk about a cultural experience!  We had to go through no less than 5 layers of security. There were literally thousands of police in and around the stadium. Some were even in full riot gear. I give them credit though as although it was a lively crowd in a full stadium, no one really seemed aggressive and it was fun! I initially was sitting near the half way mark and then moved to be with others in the 'Australian' section (although I was most definitely cheering for Uzbekistan).  There was only about 25 Australians there and although they were obviously having a great time, their cheers were drowned out by the Uzbek crowd.  Although Uzbekistan seemed to have the initial advantage in the first half with what seemed like most of the possession, Australia scored the only goal of the match.  Uzbekistan never really were able to match the Aussies whose defense was fantastic.
As I expected there were no woman in the crowd (correction - I saw one carrying a bunch of flowers) and it was a bit unnerving walking the streets after the game trying to find a taxi home.  After about an hour of wandering I finally made it safe and sound back to my place.  

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

I Have Ticket to the Australian vs Uzbekistan soccer game

yippy, I have a ticket. It cost me a whopping 3,000 soum! That's the equivalent of 3 water melons, about 50 tomatoes, or one bottle of beer and some change (about $2.50).  I'm not sure that there is anywhere else in the world that you could get a cheaper ticket to a World Cup qualifying game.  I think that making the ticket, with its flashy hologram, probably cost more than the price they charged me for it.  I don't know anything more about the event. I asked a local about what time I should turn up for the match (kick off is 8:30pm) and he said 8:30pm. I'm therefore not expecting any pre-match entertainment. Others have said that the crowd can be quite feisty.  Should be a great night... or a cultural experience.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

UZBEKISTAN - World Cup Qualifying Football

Awaiting the Arrival of the Aussie Soccer Fans

This Wednesday Uzbekistan is hosting the Australian 'Soccerroos' in the 2010 Asian World Cup qualifiers.  I heard a rumour that about 250 fans were making the trek to Tashkent.  A bunch of us from work are hoping to make it to the game. Apparently you can't buy tickets before the game as they are worried about counterfeiting.  We'll have to buy them at the gate on the night.  Kick off is at 8:30pm. I'm hoping there is a friendly atmosphere. I have no idea which time I'll be supporting but usually I support two teams - New Zealand and anyone playing against Australia :-)