I dreamed of Uzbekistan for 12 years. Imagining being under an Uzbek sky – wandering through a market, exploring, talking with people, taking their photograph, savouring every taste, sound and smell – became a preoccupation. Then it became an obsession: with each year that passed, overdrawn, tied to a different life, this journey seemed more impossible, until just the word ‘Uzbekistan’ made me upset. I gave up on my dream, and resigned myself to always feeling this way.
In 2016 my work began to involve Central Asia. In 2017 I pleaded to go to Tashkent, and one day in 2018, on a morning flight from Almaty, with four meetings arranged, I was inside Uzbekistan. It didn’t feel real.
Work bounced me across Tashkent for two days, taking the city’s stunning metro between meetings, from boulevard to boulevard.
It only left me with one free morning. I found a market to wander through. Chorsu Bazaar, a big, raucous patch of Tashkent, was everything I had been so desperate to feel.
When I hear ‘Uzbekistan’ now, there isn’t any pain – only these memories of a dream that came to life.