Tashkent to a foreigner is sort of a different planet – language, culture, human interaction, laws and code of conduct are just way different from most things one would experience elsewhere. Thus a good way to approach settling in here is to start out from a blank page. I am by no means a foreigner here, but definitely a stranger. Given this is my homeland and I have some family here it is easier for me than it would’ve been should I be a complete outsider. That being said, I am still experiencing learning curves and going through hurdles mastering the art of settling in.
Taxi is literally the driving force of the city of Tashkent. It is available any time of the day, anywhere in the city and almost every person driving a car is a taxi driver (full time, part time, once in a blue moon while going around their own business). In addition to the most reliable transportation, and most affordable one, it is also the source of news updates, fresh gossip, philosophy lessons and simple wisdom. All of the above is usually unsolicited, but welcome.
There is not a better place to start a journey to Tashkent than Tashkent Park in Seattle, Washington. The park is a physical declaration of a cultural and historical connection these two cities have created nearly half a century ago. In 1973 Tashkent and Seattle officially became first Soviet-American Sister-Cities connecting two so ideologically, culturally and geographically different political structures. Even the languages would not budge: in English, Seattle-Tashkent was a “sister” city, while in Russian it remained to be a “brother” city, what a wonderful linguistic conundrum!