Taxi to Tashkent: Two Years with the Peace Corps in

Taxi to Tashkent: Two Years with the Peace Corps in

Taxi to Tashkent: Two Years with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan [PDF / Epub] ✅ Taxi to Tashkent: Two Years with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan Author Tom Fleming – This is a police state This is a democracy This is rot gut vodka This is 2 prostitutes This is Peace Corps This is good intentions This is Ramadan This is loyalty This is power outages This is corrupt This is a police Tashkent: Two PDF ↠ state This is a democracy This is rot gut vodka This is prostitutes This is Peace Corps This is good intentions This is Ramadan This is loyalty This is power outages This is Taxi to PDF/EPUB ² corruption This is the Silk Route This is the former USSR This is Uzbekistan Tom Fleming went to Uzbekistan as a forty year old Peace Corps volunteer He was a fish out of water an infidel in a Muslim to Tashkent: Two eBook ↠ land teaching AIDS prevention and sex education in the most conservative region of Central Asia With humor and poignancy Taxi to Tashkent portrays a land little known in the West Instead of a nation rife with Islamic extremists as to Tashkent: Two Years with PDF/EPUB ² portrayed in the Western media Fleming discovers a land of Korean discos where blue eyed Muslims listen to Shania Twain and where shop owners break into applause at the mention of America Fleming travels throughout Uzbekistan from the ecological disaster site of the Aral Sea to the ancient Silk Route cities to Tashkent: Two Years with PDF/EPUB ² of Bukhara and Samarkand Taxi to Tashkent describes a little known corner of the world where nothing appears as it seems.

10 thoughts on “Taxi to Tashkent: Two Years with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan

  1. John Brookes John Brookes says:

    “Taxi to Tashkent” is by 40 year old American Peace Corps volunteer Tom Fleming This is a diary format account of two years which he spent in Uzbekistan teaching AIDS prevention and sex education in the conservative Fergana Valley region One can hardly imagine a illustrative example of East – West culture clashes than this and this interesting book certainly bears this outI must admit it took me some time to warm to Fleming as a narrator here from the outset he comes across as a brash – almost stereotypical – American The fact that the first chapter is called “Shock and Awe” referring to his initial disorientation in his new surroundings but rather oddly using a term commonly associated with overwhelming military force used by US campaigns in the Middle East seemed to bear this out Similarly his early reaction to the unfamiliar locale and people of Uzbekistan appears to be bordering on paranoia“ “GOO MORNING” Uzbek schoolboys shouted staring with the intensity of vultures as we walked past them”To an outsider this seems a slightly churlish description of native children trying out a welcome phrase on a new intake of foreignersHowever Fleming uickly establishes himself to be a perceptive and elouent narrator – leading myself as a reader to uestion whether some of my initial reaction was in itself a stereotypical assumption of the US Peace Corps on my partIndeed Fleming himself is no fan of the Peace Corps’ overly bureaucratic set up uickly identifying that administrative processes and internal politics seem to take precedence over actually making a difference to the people the organisation purports to be helpingInitially Fleming’s reaction is one of frustration then rebellion he and two other friends rent an apartment in Tashkent against Peace Corps rules – and under threat of expulsion – rather than stay in their billeted accommodation and ultimately anger at the impotence of the mission to make an effective difference Eventually Fleming strikes out on his own making rogue presentations on AIDS awareness to communities where discussions of sexual relationships are largely taboo although frustrations at the long term effects of his – and his fellow volunteers’ – assignments remain throughout the bookIndeed one gets a sense that the real achievements made in Fleming’s assignment are painted in much smaller – though no less impactful – brush strokes The real story here is not one of US volunteers making a difference on a developing Central Asian nation – rather it is the difference that Uzbekistan and its inhabitants made upon this particular American volunteer From his initial feeling of paranoia Fleming appears to make some genuine friends during his time in the country Murat is one individual who springs to mind – a gold toothed individual who delights in lewd comments mainly involving his ‘big whale’ and local waitresses except when piously observing Ramadam; also Timur the Pink Floyd loving barber; and Gulnora a young student whom Fleming initially takes under his wing to teach English but whom ultimately he engages in a non sexual yet still taboo breaking in Uzbek culture relationship and who dreams of breaking beyond the traditional confines of subservient matrimony I must admit that this latter relationship left me feeling slightly uncomfortable – there is never a chance of Fleming and Gulnora forming a full relationship in this context and Fleming’s leaving of Uzbekistan – counterpointed by a tearful phone conversation from Gulnora – seems almost callous and rather egocentric“I must go now Gulnora Please remember that you helped me out so much Promise me that you’ll always remember that”Her voice was empty “I promise Tom”I hung up the phone a thought came to me that if I were writing a book about all this my character would say It was then that I realised that I was ready to leave this country And that’s exactly how I felt”So much for Gulnora One is tempted to read some sort of colonialist subtext into this exchange but perhaps we are back to my own stereotypes hereIt occurs to me that I have overlooked some of the key descriptions of Uzbekistan in this book which Fleming provides and as I say he is an elouent and engaging narrator Certain scenes that linger are his description of his initial billet which he uickly escapes“Across the courtyard the mother picked pebbles from the rice she had spread across a tabletop She watched nonchalantly as the boy yanked down his shorts and suatted dropping a little brown turd onto the concrete porch The boy looked at me with a proud smileI sat on the sagging bed staring at four dingy walls my baggage resting by the door This was my new home in the city of uva I would be living here for two years”This is a description that makes one wince and many of the other descriptions in this book make one wince also – generally because of the painful culture clash between well meaning West and uncomprehending East most notably the ill fated staging by one of Fleming’s feminist compatriots of “The Vagina Monologues” in an ultra conservative district – but also in recognition of the awful legacy left upon this and neighbouring nations by the former Soviet stateThere is a particularly poignant description by Fleming of a trip to the Uzbek coast of the Aral Sea This is the Sea that Christopher Robins describes in the previous book on Kazakhstan as being decimated by a disastrous Soviet imposed cotton growing scheme which involved diverting the Aral’s two main tributaries As a result from 1960 to 1998 the sea's surface area shrank by approximately 60% and its volume by 80% The region's once prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed bringing unemployment and economic hardship The Aral Sea region is also heavily polluted Whilst there is now an ongoing effort in Kazakhstan to save and replenish the North Aral Sea Fleming’s description of the ongoing cotton production in the southern Uzbek region – further adding to this ecological disaster zone is heartbreakingTo summarise then this is a book that is largely about Tom Fleming’s personal development through the 2 years he spent in Uzbekistan yet thanks to Fleming’s engaging writing style we are able to gain insights into the wider nation and also into the realities and – in many instances – disappointments of Western intervention no matter how well meaning in developing countries Indeed a month after Fleming left Uzbekistan the Peace Corps withdrew from the entire country

  2. E.d. E.d. says:

    I learned not to join the peace corps This was not a bad read considering it was self published Fleming accomplishes what every memoirist must He creates himself as an interesting character I found myself wanting to read about Mr Tom It was educational to learn about Uzbekistan and its culture He is honest about those instances when he was not the ideal volunteer Reading his book underscores how difficult it is for Americans to arrive in a country and try to change it

  3. maggie maggie says:

    Never been there and unlikely ever to visit but this book was brilliant It has a captivating moodiness and a good balance between Uzbek history local colour and the personal journey of the outsider on the inside

  4. Loreldonaghey Donaghey Loreldonaghey Donaghey says:

    I know the author and the country It was interesting to read about someone's Peace Corps experience in my beloved country but 10 years later I laughed outloud several times

  5. Jane Jane says:

    Updatefinally finished his PC experience was so different from mine not a happy bookreading this slowly at Christine's house

  6. Lawrence Lihosit Lawrence Lihosit says:

    SOME TRAVELERS PINE for 19th century British styled travel narratives from Americans Remember those? Men filled with the powerful thoughts of superiority and such puny limbs that they had to hire half a nation to carry their baggage? Men who wrote about the glorious empire and yet were too ignorant to even tip their hat and say “Excuse me” in the local tongue Some folks got no conscience than a cow in a stampede The only American author I have read who emulates the British is our own RPCV Paul Theroux He never admits to hiring porters but he manages to spit his tobacco juice on just about every living room floor he visits ’Course he manages to brag himself out of any place to lean on the bar too Tom Fleming’s book A Taxi to Tashkent is an American travel narrative lean and honest without the barbed wire wrappings It is the best non fiction Peace Corps book I have ever read Published only two years after he left Uzbekistan it is one of two western first hand accounts of life in a nation traveling through its own Age of Auarius reshaping itself after a sixty eight year Russian occupation His journalism background serves him well for he does not try to impress us with ten dollar words or opinions as outdated as the British crown and the notion of the Divine Right of Kings Fleming is one American who relishes our everyman role of just being curious about our neighbors while trying to get along You do not have to be a RPCV to appreciate this wonderful book Travel alongside Tom across the strange borders where you could still outflank border guards by slipping through a farmhouse listen to the disappointment when his hosts are told that you cannot bribe policemen in the United States explore the ruins of cities along the fabled Silk Road and listen to the people like the taxi driver’s wisdom of the heart “It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Muslim as long as you believe in God” If you happen to be a not so exemplary RPCV like myself you may be relieved to read about silly bureaucratic rules that invite the American can do etiuette to undo them You might even smile at a faux pas that sounds very familiar regardless of where or when you served American government employees dressed in clean pressed clothing with expensive labels and seated behind huge oak desks surrounded by manuals filled with rules for our Volunteers should take heart it’s easier to catch a horse than break him

  7. Hotpca Hotpca says:

    This is the HoTPCA January 08 book for the monthly book club Written by Austin RPCV Tom Fleming

  8. Katey Katey says:

    one of those 2 stars is because i have been there

  9. Shelley Shelley says:

    I have to read this as soon as I get back to the US Tom said I am in it

  10. Muha Muha says:

    lots of things that i had with him

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