An Uzbek’s Conception of the Philippines

Hazrat-Hizr Mosque, Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on Monday, October 20, 2014.

Two Muslim women lean on the wall, most likely contemplating life like Charlie Brown and Linus do, at Hazrat-Hizr Mosque.

 


Inside the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque — the latest reincarnation of it anyway. The original was built in the 8th century but destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th. This version is a 1990s restoration of its mid 19th century reconstruction.



In Kazahkstan, Kyrgystan, and Tashkent (northern Uzbekistan), no one questioned my foreign ethnicity. But in Samarkand, where most people actually speak Tajik over Uzbek, I don’t exactly look like a local. Like in any traveler hub, people assume I am some sort of Asian, and default to Japanese.

“Japanese?” asks one of the two men I encountered at the Hazrat-Hizr Mosque.

“Uh, no, Philiippine,” I answer, too tired to explain I’m actually American by birth.

“Ah, Philippine!” he reacts. He says something to the other man and they are excited to meet a Filipino. They start trying to explain something to me I can’t understand, so they use the body language of moving their two hands together, forming a triangle, or cone. “Philippine?” followed by something something.

“Uh….” I couldn’t comprehend. I thought maybe they were trying to make a volcano with their hands and say, “Yes, Pinatubo.”

But that means nothing to them. Meanwhile, a young boy nearby ignores us as he’s too consumed with his iPhone game or something. The men continue to move their hands together, saying a Tajik word, but then start making rooster sounds. “Coo, ca cooo cooooo!”

The other man joins in, clapping his finger tips as well. “Cooo ca coooo!” Suddenly I feel like I’m in a scene with the Bluths in “Arrested Development.” #arresteddevelopment

And then it hits me: their association with the Philippines is cockfighting, and their asking me if I come from the land of #cockfighting. Hilarious that that’s what they think of the country.

I smile and acknowledge. “Yes! Philippines. Cockadoodledooooo!”

Even the young boy, without looking up from his game, starts making rooster sounds.

 


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This dispatch is one of over 70 travel dispatches from the trip grouped and titled, "The Global Trip: 'Stan By Me." It's an archived compilation of Instagram and Facebook posts which chronicled a trip through three countries in Central Asia: Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Next entry:
Promenade of Mausoleums

Previous entry:
The Story of Bibi-Khanym




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

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