Beirut to Beijing (and beyond)

A friend of mine is currently traveling overland to China from Beirut via Syria, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. She has been writing a prolific blog diary that is both amusing and insightful, shedding some light not only on the countries and cultures she traverses, but also on the tribulations, surprises and dilemmas facing a self-defined ‘vegetarian deconstructionist with liberal-humanist tendencies’ confronted with Central Asian life and culture. She’s about to leave Kazakhstan and enter China at the moment. Check it out here: ‘I concluded that the dynamic of the celebration was very different from the way that we have large-scale parties in Europe. There, festivities are an industry: one rents a space, one hires caterers, waiters, photographers, entertainers‚Ķ Whereas in Sentap, I think that the only person who might have been receiving a fee was the singer. Everybody else was just assuming their part of the responsibility that accompanies the festivity. These were the ethics of community that have been largely lost in the way we celebrate in urban centres around the world, where solidarity is replaced with convenience. I think that in the first major shindig I have in my life, I will take inspiration from that village party in the mountains of Uzbekistan instead of bowing to the weight of my own social conventions; not as an appropriation of some romanticised exotic, rural purity, but as a reclaiming of a set of communal values that, in many places, I feel have been forgotten.’
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