Posts Tagged BBC

Day 39 – Home again

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This journey has resulted from a team effort. The technical back-up we have received from ‘civilised’ UK has been second to none and we would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people (I am sure we missed a few).

Technical Thanks

For the BBC Multimedia Centre

Marc Walker has been an angel. Working well beyond sensible hours he finally got us connected and made himself ill in the process!

Neil, Charlotte, Victoria, Judy (Music on Earth) and of course Danielle have provided much needed support, battling against the odds

In the early days Steve, Laura and Martin helped get things off the ground

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For LiveWire

When the going got tough and we struggled for a link with the outside world the LiveWire team worked especially hard to make thing happen

Special thanks to Tristan for the late nights calls and

Howard for personally delivering a working system after a 18 hour journey (See Day 13)

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Day 10 – Seven Heavens Beneath a Waterfall

10jnalph.gifIt was a strange experience walking into a BBC building in the middle of Tashkent – a small piece of England, a refuge, an embassy. Jenny Norton who runs BBC Monitoring Tashkent had been a very good contact for us when this journey was planned. Today she met us in her office, a room rented as part of a hotel complex. Being very interested in our journey, she was happy to advise us about the areas we are planning to travel to. She pointed out that as part of our description of musicians and music it is likely some sensitive issues will be touched on. “Tell it like it is” she announced. She mentioned the relative peace and stability in Uzbekistan compared with the problems in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. She assured us we would be safe following the planned route of the rest of our journey.

10alpha.gifWhilst wandering around Tashkent in the sweltering heat, we came across an intriguing character standing by a fountain in Alimdjan’s Square – in memory of the great Uzbek writer. His face had the weather-beaten look of someone who spends a lot of time in the open. He could have been forty …or sixty, it was hard to tell. He started to tell us about the significance of this place. It was not, as we had thought, just another piece of grandiose Soviet architecture but had all kinds of cosmological significance. This genial and likeable gentleman goes by the rather unusual name of Alpha-Omega. Intrigued by his stories, we followed him down some steps to what appeared to be a maintenance room of some kind – this was his home. He welcomed us in, sat us down and offered us tea. He then continued with his story.

As far as we could understand, he was describing all the cosmic forces acting upon this spot. He gave an explanation of the ‘seven heavens’, the five parts of the human body and the four elements. His wide-ranging conversation darted from one subject to the next, seemlessly. Somehow it all seemed connected. By now there were complex cosmological diagrams and mathematical symbols drawn on a piece of paper.He explained how all the religions were in fact one and how Jesus Christ was coming again soon, in fact he was already born. He described himself as a Dervish, a Sufi holy man and said that he was a reincarnation of Ibn Al Arabi, a famous Andalucian saint. This statement was followed by a complex astrological breakdown of how this fortuitous event (his reincarnation) had happened.

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A couple of books we saw lying around his room were indeed works by classical Sufi authors. He lived very tidily in this simple room and wanted no money from us. ‘Everyone is welcome here’, he said. We asked if he knew any musicians. ‘I’ve met some… up there’ , and he pointed to the sky.

Tomorrow we are travelling to the Holy City of Bukhara. Our first real interception with the Silk Road. I am eagerly anticipating this city – log in and find out about musicians we will be meeting.

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Day 6 – On the aircraft it’s bedlam and as people push and fight for the seats

Travel Day – Almaty, Kazakstan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan] 06sunset.gifThe time in Almaty has been a fantastic beginning to the Musical Nomad. Despite satellite problems, a dodgy diet and oppressive heat the music has sustained us all. It’s 4.15 in the morning and we have been back on the road for over four hours. We are at the airport and some decidedly dodgy dealing is going on.

Some official has just run off with our air tickets and everybody is pushing for kickbacks to get the Musical Nomad equipment on the tiny jet assigned to take us to Tashkent. At 5.30 am we stand on the steps of the aircraft, finally poised to board, one of the aircrew demands “50 dollars or you don’t get on.” We reluctantly succumb.

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On the aircraft it’s bedlam and as people push and fight for the seats. The in-flight catering consists of a bottle of water and some paper cups.

I land safely in Tashkent, the best is yet to come. The ground crew refuse to unload the plane and I find myself part of a human chain. The Musical Nomad crew become ‘Tashkent Ground Services Limited’ and we offload not just our stuff, but everybody else’s! Gary, our multimedia whizz, is also a registered giant and thinks nothing of hauling four cases at a time. Paul said ‘You see life in the new BBC.’

06jantsh.gifIt’s all part of the adventure. Tomorrow that includes meeting Uzbekistan’s foremost singer, Munadjat Yulchieva, I’m full of anticipation – I may play the flute with her, I’m trying to learn about the Shash Maqam (six modes). Log on tomorrow and hear how I get on.

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