Monthly Archives: February 2011

Day 1: Valentine’s Day in Tashkent!

Amir Timur Statue

Zahid, our guide for the trip met us bright and early in the morning. He got the first whiff of what the next two weeks had in store for him i.e. two hyperactive women who believe that a day has more than 24 hours and hence want to do more than is humanly possible! We gave him a rather ambitious plan for what we wanted to do on Day 1.

As we stepped out, Tashkent on first glance was odd and sanitized. Old box-like Soviet style buildings, mixed up with new structures pretending to be grand give the city a rather confused identity. New buildings are coming up around the city in record time especially in the Amir Timur square area. The new International Affairs Center that came up in (hold your breath) just four months! Only 3,000 people worked on it – if only we could ship this efficiency …

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Eventful flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan

We boarded an Uzbek airways plane on the night of 13th Feb. The flight was packed with folks taking sacks (yes sacks, not bags or suitcases) full of stuff from India. Nisha and I wondered through the entire flight what could they be possibly carrying – and were not very discreet in trying to solving this mystery. We peered over and into their bags. I spotted many packs of Kurkure and bright orange ladoos. (Our travel agent told us later that people carry medicines by the sackful from India.)

We stuck out as two odd girls on a flight full of Uzbeks and a large Indian contingent of distributors out on their “incentive” holiday to Tashkent. Clearly everyone was wondering whether we were on the right flight. It was an old plane with seat belts so old school that it took us a while to figure out how they worked …

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Visiting Master Craftsmen In Moradabad

nickel-plated brass box

Reshma and I drove from Delhi to Moradabad early in the morning. Moradabad is famous for its brassware and we were told by the Head of the Brassmakers Association (we named him Mr White as he had on a pristine white kurta-pyjama, white sandals and yes a white phone!) that over 400,000 artisans work in the industry. We got to meet a national award winner and see the product he got his award for.

It was fantastic but very sad as well. The sons have focused on making products for the mass market and do not have the skills their father has, so his craft will die with him. He learnt it from his father who learnt it from his father – a skill that dates back to the Mughals, and now on the verge of extinction. He knows it and you could see the profound sadness in him.

Saw …

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More Carpets Arrive…

Took delivery of a batch of 20 new carpets today (contemporary rugs in wool rather than tribal ones), a variety of sizes and stunning designs. Rather than describe them here I thought I’d let Tiya do her own sales job on them. (Not quite sure about her sense of smell though.)

P.S. Arastan is an ethical business and we do not employ child labour: she works for free!

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    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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