It’s true, we’ve been a tad cruel to Central Asians. For example, we may have unintentionally suggested that they are egregiously backward and superstitious, or playfully ridiculed their culinary traditions, or lightly, horribly insulted their quality of life.
But you only viciously defame the ones you love, and in reality we had an incredible time in Central Asia. We couldn’t help but be awed by the dogged resilience of its traditions in the face of the region’s abysmal recent history, the beauty of its landscapes and people, the convergence of so many disparate ideas in their cultures, and steppe dwellers’ determination to better themselves in such harsh economic and ecological contexts.
That said, when you’re trapped behind a linguistic barrier as impermeable as the one separating English and a combination of Russian and Turkic-derived dialects, Central Asians can be eminently frustrating. Whether it was haggling, inquiring of directions, being asked our names and ages again and again, or hearing about how Jews are bad and how Obama is an N-word, we tended to end most interactions with tremendous sighs and a mumbled, “God I hate this…”
One recurring event we never tired of, however, was seeing how insurmountable a tongue twister Devon’s name proved to be to every local we met. Introductions first proved problematic with our WWOOF hosts in India, who labeled him interchangeable variations on “Gevin” and “Debbins”, but they took on a life of their once we entered post-Soviet territory. We’ve captured an example of such an exchange for your listening pleasure. For clarification, “My name is?” was a common English slip-up we ran into with the locals there: