Articles

A Family in Urgut

 

Izzat and I drove from Bukhara to the town of Urgut, where I'd heard there was a particularly good bazaar and was hoping for some special finds.  Urgut is near the border with Tajikistan, so it was arranged that we come on the last two days before crossing into Tajikistan.  

 

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And now, the Video!

 

One of the most amazing experiences I had on my Central Asian adventure was spending a whole day with a Pamir family.  There was crochet, food, babies, plus LIVE MUSIC and dance. Yorali, my Pamiri host, shot most of this footage with my little video camera.  My talented brother-in-law Simon Surowicz edited it into a fantastic film. Click the Video button above left to view it, and make sure you have good speakers turned on! This music is not like any you've heard before!!

 

For more on the trip, check our Archives.

 

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Can I Help you Spend your Money?

[Note: For better images, click on the top photo, then use the Next arrow to scroll through.]

If you think it's easy to leave Istanbul without buying a rug, you are underestimating the rug sellers of Istanbul, for whom retail sales is a high art.

 

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Encounter in Bursa

 

Encounter in Bursa 

 

Near the end of our trip, Leslie and I decided to make a 2 day excursion to the nearby city of Bursa, which had once been the Ottoman capitol.

 

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Exiting the Pamirs

It is not easy getting to the Pamirs, and it is even more difficult getting out.  Especially if you don't want to drop a small fortune which I did unwittingly in my luxurious journey in with Yusuf.
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Holiday in Istanbul, Part One

[Note: To see the photos at their best, click on the photo at the top right (map) to open it in a larger format, then click"Next" at bottom left to view all photos on this page.] 

I first experienced the splendors of Istanbul last summer, when I spent a few hours there while en route to Uzbekistan.  This summer, accompanied by my friend Leslie, I planed a full two weeks there exploring its rich history and textile creativity.  We'd booked a room in advance at a small hotel in the Sultanahmet, the old city, where historic sights and tourists abound.

 

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Long Days Journey Into Albania

 

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Mostar: Ravishing and Ravished

 

 

Mostar, like Sarajevo, was hard hit in the wars following the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and tensions between Croatians and Moslems living on opposite sides of the river still persists.

 

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My Central Asian Adventure Begins

 

Months ago I saw a photo on ravelry of an amazing slip stitch stock made in the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan.  From that moment I decided to go to the region to find out about more about these socks, their origins and makers. I was most fortunate to obtain a frequent flyer air ticket from New York to Tashkent, in Uzbekistan, and back via Kiev in the Ukraine.  In Kiev I was to meet up with crochet master Antonina Kuznetsova, who invited me for Ukraine's Indendence Day when she learned I was planning a trip to the region.

 

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My Dubrovnik Dream

 

DUBROVNIC

 

 

After considerable stress over non functioning cash machines and overpriced taxi rides, I catch a bus from Mostar to Dubrovnik next afternoon. We drive along the impressive Adriatic coast, where a string of islands obscures the horizon.  It's very picturesque, but the frequent resorts climbing up from the beaches are overcrowded and without much character. After the intensity and dry heat of Mostar, it feels distant and unreal to me.

 

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Pamir Day Four

Khorog is a lovely small city with one good restaurant along the river. I took Yorali to lunch there and we spoke at length about how I could lend support once home, and how we might be able to arrange a longer visit for me in the future. Then Zuhro took me to the Khorog museum, where I knew there were old Pamiri socks I must try to photograph.  We were greeted by an unkempt fellow with bottle-thick glasses who did not seem inclined to grant my request. I refused to give up, however, and he finally opened the case containing the socks and gave me a spot to lay them out for photos....

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Pamir Day One

 

After crossing the border into Tajikistan I stayed in the town of Penjikent, where there are some historic sites, that, sadly, I didn't get to see.  The hotel was a dilapidated ex-Soviet hotel that seemed to have no other visitors, OK but a little creepy.  To cheer myself up I put on my brand new silver slippers that I bought in Urgut.

 

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Pamir Day Three

My primary reason for coming to the Pamirs, the eastern mountainous region of Tajikistan, was to learn more about the mysterious jurabs -- colorful socks -- made by the women there....

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Pamirs Day Two

 

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Sarajevo Out of the Ashes

 

My first stop on this trip is in the beautiful and historic city of Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina. Surrounded by mountains and divided by a river, this ancient city ruled first by the Turks and then the Austro-Hungarians, was heavily pounded during the struggles of the 1990s. Over 10,000 Sarajevans died, many more were wounded, and fine old buildings damaged. Fifteen years after the end of hostilities, the city is thriving again. The people are very cosmopolitan and many, especially the young, speak English.

 

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The Riches of Samarkand

 

Though my main destination was the High Pamirs of Tajikistan, I couldn't imagine coming to Central Asia without seeing the famed exotic cities of Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. My trip in Uzbekistan was arranged by Elenatours, represented by a Russian named Boris.

 

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Treasures of Bukhara

 

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Upcoming Travel Adventure

 

I'm so excited! I'll be going on a great travel adventure this summer. It began as an idea for researching the origins of crochet. It's often speculated that it all began in the Mediterranean world, and Turkey seemed like a key region. I was aware of their oya tradition, and knew crochet was sometimes used for making oya. Istanbul is a fabulous destination I'd never seen, and became my first point of focus.

 

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