Arabic Speaking Uzbeks in NYC

by Laurence on 10/8/2004

Found by Upyernoz, described in rubber hose:

so i just got back from a long exhausting day in new york city. this time on the train home i did not convert any fellow passengers to kerry. instead, i stepped on the train to find my car was filled with foreigners in some kind of islamic dress.
i spent much of the ride eaves dropping, trying to figure out what language they were speaking. it wasn’t arabic, that was clear enough. the passengers looked uzbek to me–both in their dress (the women wore what looked like traditional uzbek garb to me) and facial features. but part of me didn’t believe it. i know i’m obsessed with uzbekistan and apts to assume any non-arab muslims with vaguely asiatic features are from central asia. so i sat there, pretending to do arabic homework and debating to myself whether they looked more like malaysians after all.
then one of them pulled out a novel, it was clearly written in cyrillic. at that point i was sure they were central asians. i jumped up and asked where they were from. they were from tashkent, but didn’t really speak english. but at least 2 of the 20 or so uzbeks in my compartment spoke arabic (which also beats the odds, i spent 2 weeks looking for arabic speakers in uzbekistan and only found a single person who could).
unfortunately, while i am quite capable of carrying on a simple conversation in arabic, it has to be a pretty vapid conversation. or at least limited to a few basic topics. plus, my uzbek friends were also just learning the language. so i stumped them with my vocabulary about as often as they stumped me. i did get to show off my rudamentary uzbek too–which is limited pretty much to: “no” “thank you” “lawyer” and counting from one to 10,000.
so what are the odds of an uzbek-obsessed arabic-speaking american ending up in a train with a bunch of uzbeks some of whom also speak arabic? why do i get such a kick out of things like this?

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