Following a thoroughly untouristic arrival day, our second was far more kosher (Jews used to inhabit Bukhara in their tens of thousands!) as we headed to the Old City. We met Rustam, husband to a very well-known weaver and businesswoman – Zarina – with whom Alex has been in touch with regarding the Craft Training School, by the central pool of the City and were taken to new lodgings with the locally famous Mubinjon. Ex-boxing champion and trainer extraordinaire to hundreds of Olympians, the little English he knows is enough to make him sound superhuman, without understanding any of the questions attempting to ascertain what truth is actually buried beneath! Now nearly 80, he has been restoring a beautiful Bukhara house buried deep in the living districts near the center, and has managed to keep it looking and feeling genuinely beautiful.
Listed in our guide book as a B&B, it was a great shame to us when we understood we would not be getting any of the latter B, but we were keen to order a large Prime Ministerial Plov to be made for us for dinner a few days hence, he said it was nothing short of “FANTASTIQUE” (French pronunciation and oodles of enthusiasm required to read this in the way Mubinjon says it)! Alex and I went out to find some local Shashlik and explore the town a little in our separate ways before regrouping, without fail, at 6PM to head for the buffet which had tempted us so greatly the previous day.
With the company of a USA/Brit couple (who says that Syria is damaging the ‘special’ relationship?) we had met that morning, we raided the buffet for hours as one feels obliged to do when sat by a picturesque pond with Uzbek music, unlimited tea, and great company! As avid readers of the blog will not doubt not be surprised to read, we were in fact the first and the last at the buffet spanning more courses than I can remember!