written on February 19th in the middle of the night
It’s been a while, and I apologize. I wanted to write some blogs on Bukhara, about standard mistakes that Uzbek/Russian speakers make when speaking German, about the joys of expat life part II, about my birthday and about the joys and nightmares of organizing an Austrian poetry slam in Tashkent. And I never sat down to do so.. I never thought I would say this, but I’ve missed writing, and I promise I will write about all these things eventually (though I suppose I will tell you all about it once I get home anyway.. but I suppose it’s just for me and future-me who wants to read about all these things in about 40 years to think back about my crazy time in Tashkent).
I have some news, and it's about time to share them with you. Well, I am going home in a week. But: I am also going back to Tashkent. I extended my stay until September, although I won’t be teaching anymore but doing another internship at a German company (whose name I am not going to mention). It’s been a difficult decision whether or not to stay, whether to better my chances for an actual career or whether to return to a place that I can call home and where everything is “normal”. The question is though, is “normal” really what I want? Didn’t I always find it boring that everything was so normal, a routine but, at the same time, a constant and unending struggle to fight against this routine? Aren’t the excitement and the absence of normality and routine the reasons why so many people decide to live abroad? To dive into a new culture which questions everything you would consider normal. Why would I even think about returning to a place where everything is normal?
I’ve asked myself these questions a lot in the past couple of months. Obviously I can only speak for Uzbekistan and this may not be true for a lot of other non-Western countries in the world.. but sometimes, the absence of normality is exhausting. Tiring. And, at certain times, simply drives you crazy. Every single visit to the internet café, which I used to print out my teaching materials, became a test of my patience. They know me there for being “the stupid foreigner who, after 5 months, still doesn’t really speak the language”, so I am being ignored. Then they choose the slower printer. Then the electricity doesn’t work. Then the internet doesn’t work. Then the USB flash drive doesn’t work. My level of annoyance with this place rises with every time I go there, and it’s not getting better. And suddenly the things that are supposed to be easy simply aren’t.
A few more examples: If you’ve read my last blog you know how difficult it is to get access to money, so that going to the VISA ATM becomes a bit like a gamble – will I get money? What if I don’t? And relying on your friends when it comes to money issues and asking “Can you lend me some money?” becomes like the most normal thing in the world. Having to bargain every stupid thing you want to buy outside of a shop (eg at the bazar) and always getting ripped off because you are the “rich” foreigner. Having to show your passport every second time you enter the metro. Never knowing if the electricity is going to work when you planned a lesson with a listening exercise. Until you feel close to tears because you think: WHY can’t it just be easy?
I like Uzbekistan, but I am glad to go home for a few weeks to recharge my life batteries, to enjoy that the easy things are actually easy, and to enjoy proper coffee, desserts and lovely Austrian food, and, most importantly, to see my friends and family. Don’t get me wrong – I am aware this blog post literally screams frustration and annoyance, and yes, I know I am being moany here. So even though it may not seem that way, I am extremely thankful for being here, for getting the chance to understand the world a little bit better, for all the wonderful people that I have met so far and that I am going to meet.
I am not sure who is reading this blog, but I am glad to return to those who I have missed the past 5 months, even if it is just for a little while :)