Lil reflects on Samarkand, Uzbekistan, the Silk Route, and travelling with a companion so much more elegant than herself.
This is not a journal of the silk route, Osh to Samarkand. It is the observations of a stout elderly lady who went in the knees, pulled muscles in the leg and found one mosque much like another.
I adore travelling, but do not think ticking off the buildings does justice to the sights and sounds of my travels. That is not to say I didn’t like the sights. I was fascinated that over hundreds of years they stuck to the same designs, patterns, colours. And, despite the dreadful concrete monstrosities left by the USSR in the name of progress, I thought the Russians had done a marvellous job restoring the jewels they considered relevant. Samarkand is amazing. We fell silent and thoughtful in the Mausoleums, local women prayed unselfconsciously, we felt ourselves doing likewise. I defy anyone not to be impressed by the Registan in Samarkand.
But travelling has many aspects. I am short, stout and badly dressed. We looked like a beautiful roe deer going on holiday with an elderly ewe. Sophie would get up at six to visit the Kalyon Minar and breeze in at eight with stories of police staring after her for this untourist like activity. I would be slowly getting up.
I liked to rest in the afternoon. She would see off the taxi drivers, rascals the lot of them, and drag me to eat ubiquitous Plov in places no tourist would dare to lurk. Then there were the Mausoleums of Kusam ibn Abbas, Tumanaga, and Alim Nesefi. And I know the Lyabi Haux complex is a little naf with the well drained pool and restaurants round the edge but I liked it!
But then again I am the person who had specially bought trousers to coordinate with my tops (see comment on matching) The brown cotton top and a purple and orange top, never did quite work. Sophie on the other hand wore a mystifying collection of flimsy vests under pretty blouses. If her collar was askew it looked perfect, if my collar was, it looked a rumpled mess. A flick of the hair brush and a band to pull her hair back, showing off her willowy neck was all she needed. I brushed and brushed but the first puff of wind and I looked like the wreck of the Hesperus. My saving grace was my hat, black with a wide brim and a pattern on the inside. I looked like a very large mushroom and that from me is as near chic as I get.
I think its like not being musical, I haven’t a clue and watching Sophie I’m dreadfully jealous but don’t know where to start. Chucking out the green acrylic top might be a good idea, losing weight might be another. I really did make an effort coming home. I wore a scarf wrapped fashionably round my neck and looked like someone with mumps. The wretched thing kept catching me in the throat and all I could think as I passed through customs and immigration control is how tiresome this fashion lark is.