Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Central Asian DNA Strand

Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara--all cities on the original Silk Road. All visited and (sometimes) trashed by Alexander the Great, Ghengis Khan, and Emir Timur, the unifying father of the middle ages. Uzbeks are a culturally complex people, historically.

Of the ethnic, non-European people we have met, most first identify as Tajik, Turkik, or Tatar, combined with the all-important ingredient, Uzbek. We met one gentlemen sitting on the steps of a beautiful madrassa (above) one evening. After chatting for a few minutes, and learning that he was Tajik-Uzbek, we were pleasantly interrupted by about 20 Iranian students whom we had met in a different town a few days earlier. They were all in a Master’s of International Relations program in Tehran.

I introduced Mosel to our newest friend Ruslan. In broken English, Mosel asked him “Do you speak Tajik?” In short order, they were hugging and kissing like they hadn’t seen each other in 700 years. In fact, they hadn’t; Ruslan’s ancestors were “invited” to settle in Bukhara, from Iran, by the aforementioned Emir Timur in the 1300‘s. It was an emotional reunion. The DNA strand is extraordinarily complex in this part of the world. I might even be from here.

Nina: thought I’d break it to you early--our Iranian friends (above) invited us, in all sincerity, to visit them in Tehran next fall. It’d be rude to say no.

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