Correspondence from Uzbekistan

Dear Mr. Van Kirk,

Greetings from Uzbekistan, where, we like to say, Anonymity Beckons. My name is Dilshod Azamatov, President of the National Chamber of Commerce.

Yesterday, I was in my office in the Presidential Palace where you can find, etched in stone over the front entrance, the motto Many Go In, Few Come Out. I was watching an interview with you on your public television station. Our Grand Leader makes sure we get all the best in free programming, although the picture this time was a bit grainy which may be due to it being a VHS copy of a copy of what was shown on Estonian television recently. You were going on and on about a new book you’re writing, with several chapters focused on Uzbekistan.

It was clear you had no idea what you were talking about. Uzbekistan is not some backwater country, as you portrayed it. Hell, we have hardly any water at all. No, Uzbekistan is the rose in the weed patch of Central Asia. The diamond in the center of a global necklace of nations. The Bugatti in a garage full of Hyundai’s. The twenty-something hottie walking through the retirement home. The ping pong ball in the beer pong tournament.

You joked around about our having national deficiencies. An outrage! Let me be clear, we don’t have no stinking deficiencies! This is the land of opportunity. Paradise on Earth. I must refute each of your scurrilous comments.

Of course we used to be on the Ten Worst Human Rights Violations list. I mean who hasn’t been on one of those crappy UN reports? Need I point out, say, the Vikings. Horrible people, pillaging and ravaging all over Europe just a few years ago, and look how they’ve improved. Swedes now sit around in saunas all day sipping Absolut, eating lutefisk morning, noon, and night, and watching old Ingmar Bergman films. So what if we were in the top ten? You have to start somewhere. The worse it is, the better the opportunity for improvement. Right? Thanks to the hard work of our Grand Leader, Uzbekistan has moved down to number eleven. How nice is that!  

I agree that ninety percent of our country is a desert. What’s not to like about it? We love it that way. No forest fires to blacken the sky. Nobody fighting over vast tracks of agricultural land that developers want to turn into suburbs and shopping malls. No freeways and traffic jams as far as the eye can see. And you have to admit, sand storms are a thing of beauty. You dig out your hut in a day or two and move back in. And with all the new sand all around, you have loads of fresh places to bury your trash.

As to your last point about our diminished rainfall, who needs a lot of dark days and rain and flooding? Eight inches a year is plenty. We make up the difference by drinking and bathing in Russian vodka. Why Russian? We figure they’ll be back at some point. 

By the way, tourists love this place. Jet into Tashkent. Have a cup of green tea and a cigarette. Go for a camel ride on a sand dune. Then enjoy a night under the stars. Since the electricity flickers off around dusk every night, the whole county is in the dark. Talk about an opportunity for romance to bloom. Our oldest professionals declare it’s a boon to business.

Many thanks to our forward looking Grand Leader for making all of this and much more a reality. What a guy!

Now, why don’t you go pick on another ‘stan. Plenty to choose from, like our neighbor to the east, Kyrgyzstan. Unsophisticated rubes.

All the best,

Dilshod Azamatov