Should Be Funny…

by Nathan Hamm on 4/20/2004 · 1 comment

Do you want to know what power is? Power is making an off-the-cuff remark, something totally impromptu, and having it carry the force of law

“Gold teeth don’t look good on young people,” he said. “White teeth show that a person is healthy. Ask the minister of health, he’s a dentist. He’ll give you good white ones.”

The next morning, lecturing staff were waiting at the university gates as the students arrived – to check them for gold teeth. Those found with incriminating dentistry were ordered to go to the central dental clinic and not to attend classes until they had acquired white crowns.

“What right do they have to look in my mouth?” asked Aina, a student at the university. “It is so belittling when they stop me at the doors of the lecture theatre to check my teeth as if I were a thoroughbred horse, and decide whether I should go to classes or be sent to a dentist.”

The campaign quickly spread to other higher education institutions in Ashgabat. Faculty heads at Turkmen State University addressed students on April 7 to inform them that gold teeth should be replaced as quickly as possible, and threatened to expel anyone who refused to do so.

A member of the government committee that oversees higher education in Turkmenistan defended the new policy, suggesting that it represented a new ideological trend rather than an aesthetic whim, and citing the Rukhnama – the president’s philosophical treatise which is required reading in schools and even mosques.

“It makes no difference to the president how our young people look,” said the official. “The point is that the Rukhnama states that young people should be tidy, diligent and healthy. The time has come to reject vestiges of the past.”

Wow. It’s not even aesthetics, it’s a treatise… You have no idea how much life would suck for you if I had this power. I am very deeply annoyed by very many things. It’s the source of all my best material, so I’m actually pretty happy I don’t have that kind of power.

Really though, this is apparently a real financial drain on people,

“Today he came home and told me he can’t go to university any more. He has two gold molars, and unless he smiles they aren’t visible, but they insist he has them taken out. It is very expensive to replace gold teeth with ceramic ones,” she said. “Now we will have to take out another loan, because my husband thinks our son should have an education at any price. He’s our only child.”

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

{ 1 comment }

Mark April 21, 2004 at 4:11 am

Wow, I wish I had that power. I have to use crass selling techniques to get some people to choose the more expesive dental option. The closes thing we have had to that here in the US was when Jimmy Carter was president. I was in dental school then, but once in a great while we had people come in and demand,’Make me look like Jimmy Carter’ It’s just not the same.

Previous post:

Next post: