Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Demise of the Tashkent Metro Token

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Metal metro token in use 1992 - 1993
The Tashkent metro is a splendid underground art gallery. You can happily spend a day hopping on and off the stations to admire the mosaics, ceramics and light fittings.

A token was 1400 soums - about 15 cents. Provided you didn't exit you could travel the entire system on just one token. (However, not exiting means that you may miss some of the decorated entrances which are sometimes as striking as the platform art).

Since opening in 1977, travel tickets on the metro have ranged from paper tickets, metal tokens and finally plastic tokens. 

Effective 1 November 2020, a single transport payment card has been introduced for travel on the metro and buses. The tokens are no longer accepted.

The cost of a card with contactless NFC technology is 11,000 soums, about $1 and includes the cost of one trip.

Of course I understand why this system has been introduced. Yet I am sentimental. I was charmed buying the tokens at the Kassa from the always cheery sellers and inserting the token into a rather antiquated, clunky turnstile.

Talented designer and Uzbek Journeys client, Dana Davies, once bought a stockpile of the blue plastic tokens, added green and white beads and voila - wonderful drop earrings in the colours of the Uzbek flag. What a fabulous souvenir. I frequently wore mine when I travelled on the Tashkent metro. When other passengers noticed them they were always so surprised and pleased.

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Samples of Dana Davies' Tashkent Metro earring designs
Dana has a few pairs of earrings available. Please contact her on caravanthology[a] if you would like a special piece of Tashkent history. I treasure my pair.

Related posts:
tashkent metro new turnstiles, tashkent metro ticket system
The new metro turnstiles for the new transport cards


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

New Director of the Savitsky Museum, Nukus - Tigran Mkrtychev

New director Tigran Mkrtychev
Marinika Babanazarova was hand picked by Igor Savitsky to take over the directorship of the Karakalpak Museum of Art in Nukus, usually referred to as the Savitsky Museum. 

Leading the museum for 34 years, Dr Babanazarova was responsible for the museum gaining world-wide recognition as a unique collection of avant-garde Soviet art, Karakalpak jewellery and textiles, and priceless pieces from the Sergei Tolstov archaeological expeditions, conducted in Khorezm from 1937.

Since Dr Babanazarova's departure a few years ago, the museum has been in flux. Several directors pulled it back to "regional museum" status rather than the international status that Dr Babanazarova had built. 

Fears abounded about the collection. At one stage Alexander Shevchenko 's 1914 painting "Woman with Buckets" was seriously damaged in 2018 by a recently and badly installed sprinkler system.

In 2019 an international competition was held for the post of director. The very positive news is that Dr Tigran Mkrtychev takes up the directorship on 2 January 2021.

Tigran Konstantinovich Mkrtychev is a Soviet and Russian archaeologist and art historian, currently working as the director of the Roerich Museum, a branch of the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. 

He was born in Kalinin and lived in Uzbekistan for 10 years. Firstly as a student in the Department of Archeology of Central Asia, Tashkent State University,  Later he participated in expeditions with the famous archaeologist Galina Pugachenkova, who devoted her life to Central Asian civilizations.

Dr Mkrtychev continued archaeological work in the post-Soviet period in Central Asia, Tuva and China. He has written extensively on Central Asian Buddhist art as well as avante garde art of the region.

The brilliant Marinika Babanazarova
I am convinced with this appointment that the museum is back in good hands, that international partnerships will once again be prioritized and that the collection is protected.

As an aside, last week there was a rock concert inside the museum by the cool Tashkent group Electrooko. The video is posted below. [If the video does not appear on your device, go directly to]
For Uzbek Journeys clients who visited this museum in the far western desert, you will enjoy viewing the artworks again as well as the music.
For those of you who plan a visit to Uzbekistan, make sure to include this extraordinary museum on your itinerary.
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Monday, November 23, 2020

Uzbekistan Becomes the Newest Addition to the ‘Stan’ Cricket Family

Some years ago Uzbek Journeys posted an article on cricket in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It proved surprisingly popular. Cricket fans will now be delighted to learn about cricket in Uzbekistan. It has become a sport for girls as well as boys.

An  article on this topic, written by Shounak Sarkar, appeared on 16 November in Emerging Cricket. Uzbek Journeys has received permission to publish this abridged version.

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Uzbekistan Cricket Federation President Aziz Mihliev, 2nd from Right

Afghanistan’s fairytale ascension from obscurity to World Cup participation and Full Membership is well known to cricket fans. It is an enthralling and heart-warming story which has been covered extensively by major media publications worldwide. However, it is not just the established cricket nations that are sitting up and taking notice. Afghanistan’s cricket successes are also causing its Central Asian neighbours to take the sport seriously and plant the first seeds of cricket in virgin soils.

One such country is Uzbekistan, where the Justice Ministry confirmed the registration of the "Cricket Federation of Uzbekistan" entity in December 2019. As per the Federation President Mr. Aziz Mihliev, its organisational goals are clear. Mihliev states that in his view starting a cricket chapter in the country can open Uzbekistan up to new opportunities:

"Since cricket is a popular sport in many parts of the world, we also decided to develop this sport as we believe that our youth are very competent and have shown great results in different types of championships. Cricket can bring new opportunities, new insights, and new goals to our country."

Furthermore, Mihliev admits that he also has a personal motive. He fondly remembers his college years in India, where he was awed by the sheer passion and joy that locals expressed towards the game. He couldn’t help but catch the cricket bug and eventually this led to Uzbekistan registering a cricket federation, becoming the second country in Central Asia to do so.

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A moment during the ANFA Tashkent T20 Tournament held in October 2020

Most people would not associate cricket with the ex-Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. The country is well known for its majestic mosques, gleaming mausoleums and other historical sites associated with the Silk Road. However, the sport has been played there since 1997, when Indian employees of an Indo-Uzbek healthcare company, Core Pharmsanoat, began organising regular cricket games among themselves.

The first notable cricket event took place in 1999, when a British Embassy Team played against a motley crew of players from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia, appropriately nicknamed the ‘Commonwealth XI’. Unfortunately, these fixtures were restricted exclusively to the expatriate community, with the native Uzbek population taking very little interest.

Present Day

Since the registration of the cricket federation, momentum has built rapidly. Currently, the federation has Indian-trained coaches at its disposal who are sharing their knowledge with other trainers. Participation is also increasing steadily. 

"At present we have more than 280 freshman players learning basic game techniques at various districts of our country and two more or less ready teams," Mihliev explains.

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Cricket training for girls and boys in Uzbekistan

The two cricket teams that Mihliev alludes to above are called "Barlos" and "Afrosiyob". Earlier this month they squared off against each other in the ANFA Tashkent T20 Tournament. This was a historic moment for the sport in the country: it the first time that an officially sanctioned tournament took place with indigenous Uzbek participation.

The importance of this tournament cannot be stressed enough. The games were played under the watchful eye of the National Olympic Committee leadership, along with representatives of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports and the Uzbekistan Cricket Federation. It also made national news.


Uzbekistan is collaborating with its Central Asian neighbours.  Chief Coach Mr. Farkhod Najmiddinov visited Tajikistan last year to meet with the Tajikistan Cricket Federation board members. In his mission, he closely got acquainted with their team and they shared their knowledge about cricket.

During the visit, the Tajiks presented Najmiddinov with some cricket equipment as a sign of goodwill. They gifted one ball, one pair of gloves, one pair of leg pads, one bat, one helmet, stumps and keeping gloves. 

cricket in uzbekistan, uzbek sports, central asian cricket
Coach Farkhod Najmiddinov with Asadullah Khan (Tajikistan Cricket Federation)

On future strategy, the Federation is quite clear on what it wants to aim for. Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and International Cricket Council (ICC) membership are firmly on the agenda, because as Mihliev states "They would give us a hand as they are developers of this wonderful game." 

Additionally, Mihliev advised that they have already spoken to ICC about the start of organised cricket in Uzbekistan. "When our President went to Dubai, he visited ICC personally and met (ICC Asia Development Officer) Mr. Mohammad Iqbal Sikander. He gave our President tonnes of information about the rules and regulations of ACC and ICC Membership. Moreover, Mr. Mohammed Iqbal gave us his coaching materials, which are greatly helping us to form up our Federation".

Also, a talent hunt is underway and the Federation is looking to increase participation levels by organising an annual eight-team domestic league which is one of the criteria for ICC membership. Long term, Mihliev has ambitious plans. "In the long run, our goal is to become internationally competitive! Our desire is to be champions in World Championships of any form of cricket tournaments," he adds.

Uzbekistan is a crowded sports market - promoting a new sport is a tough job. But the Federation is working closely with partner countries for support. It is speaking regularly with the National TV and Radio distributors so that cricket can be popularized through coverage on News and Sports Channels.

Mihliev adds "At present, the Ministry of Sports has given us a ground to launch our activities. We are undertaking some maintenance work now, so it allows us to train outside if the weather is ok.  If there is heavy rain or snow falling, we can rent closed stadiums."

A New Cricket Rivalry?

It is quite possible that with the mutual development of Tajik, Uzbek and Kazakh cricket, we might start seeing Central Asian cricket derbies become a regular occurrence in the next decade or so. That is a wonderfully exciting prospect and could be the start of a flourishing new cricket rivalry, in one of the unlikeliest regions in the world from a cricketing perspective.

How does watching a T20 tri-series between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan at Tashkent or Dushanbe sound?

Related posts:

Cricket in Afghanistan and Tajikistan
Skateistan - Empowerng Afghan Youth Through Skateboarding 
Uzbekistan Cricket Federation Facebook page
Emerging Cricket website