Friday, December 7, 2012

Bukhara, a Fairy Tale City

The narrow alleys of Bukhara seemed to be a twisting and turning maze, growing more and more difficult to navigate as the sun set and the shadows grew longer. We came around a corner and almost ran into a man coming from another direction. He sidled up next to us and said in Russian, “Good evening.” It must have been quite apparent to the man that we were foreigners, but in an attempt to look like we weren’t lost we made another turn without hesitation. The stranger turned as well. “Pleasant weather we’re having, isn’t it?” He smiled slyly and gave one good look over the young man and young woman walking next to him, bundled tightly from head to toe. Though my Russian is poor, I understood his joke and answered back, “It is excellent weather! Though just a bit cold.” The three of us laughed together for a moment and shivered deeper in our coats and scarves. The truth is it had been more than just a bit cold before the sun went down, but the fresh air was enticing and my friend had asked me to join him on a walk. Now, in the shadows of the moonlight it was downright freezing, but not really knowing where we were, we just kept walking.
    The man broke the silence and asked, “How do you like our city?” I told him that I loved it. The city was beautiful and the history fascinating. I was disappointed that my group couldn’t spend more time. The man nodded and said, “Yes, Bukhara is a gorod skazka. Enjoy your stay.” He winked at me and dipped away around a corner, lowering his head to the sudden light from the street lamps. My friend stopped and put his hand on my arm. We smiled at each other for a moment before I whispered, “Yes, Bukhara is a fairy tale city...” We had come out of the alley just next to our guest house. The friendly stranger had already disappeared down the street into one of the trading domes. As I looked after him the lights shining from within sparkled and danced with the light of the lonely moon, a welcome image of warmth to two foreigners adrift in the cold night of the desert.