Back in college, I met a girl named Anna who became a close friend in my college years. I studied abroad in the spring semesters of both my junior and senior years, so it was hard for me to keep in touch with some of my college friends. Anna was one of them. I kept in touch with her via Facebook, which allowed me to view her humor in the text form of status updates and photo captions. But in this digital world, you can forget how it feels to just see or be with a person that you haven't seen in so long.
I hadn't seen Anna since junior year of college, which meant that when I saw her as a bridesmaid in our mutual college friend Carolyn's wedding a few months ago, it had been a whopping eight years since I'd seen her. After our hellos, I audibly projected my initial thoughts upon seeing her. "Anna, it's so weird to hear your voice." She laughed and asked if it was odd or different. No, it was exactly how I remembered it, but with eight years of maturity behind it.
Just reading about a person and reading the way they type their thoughts is so different than the real thing. A cackling laugh, a familiar musky cologne, or the movement in the way a friend fake-grimaces at your awful joke is just so powerful to the human connection. It can't be replaced.
So while I've physically met up with Yvonne, Remi, Calvin, Tan, and Helen in NYC since our Central Asia trip ended seven months ago, there are others in our group who haven't been afforded those opportunities. I posted the video in late July so we could all watch it synchronized, in real time. Chris's comment of "How weird it is to hear everyone's voices" definitely hit me. I'd been sitting on these videos for months, watching and re-watching them. I've shared them with my friends from home, and posted clips on Facebook. Others in the group only had photos to satiate their want for reminiscing. But those were just tidbits here and there, and editing a full video to capture the entire trip brings out a lot of "the feels."
It's interesting to see how, as I grew comfortable with the strangers-to-become-friends, the footage becomes goofier and less inhibited, and better expresses the true emotion and feel of the trip. The first clips in Tashkent are of strangers on the first day, the last clips in Almaty are of international family.
It's charming to hear the voice of a person whom you haven't seen or communicated with in over 7 months. To hear them laugh or see them sheepishly smile.
It's fun to see everyone's dance moves, as only video can capture. To hear Matt's "Oh my days" in his unmistakable Brummie accent. To hear any of our guides' Uzbek or Tajik or Kyrgyz accents. To hear Firuz sing for us the Tajikistan national anthem.
It's nice to re-live those tiny moments that don't make it into the photo album or the blog: counting money, looking through Tajik scarves, watching a butcher chop meat in the street market.
It's fun to watch our horrible bowling skills that, on my camera, were only captured by video. To see our local guides pour us "copious amounts of alcohol" upon arrival in the Bishkek airport.
And of course, it's hilarious to hear Calvin and Tan's take on the Backstreet Boys "I Want It That Way" with an out-of-tune guitar (or something that resembles a guitar).
There's hours of footage that didn't make it into this video, as well as the audio that didn't make it in and was guised by the music. I'll have those for myself, to tide me over until I see these friends again.
Before I present the video, I have to give a shout-out to Parker at Company 3 in my office who colored it for me. He worked countless hours on making it look unmistakably beautiful and making sure my hair was the "right shade of pink" (thanks for that). And I know you know I spent months working on it, so that's all I'll say about that. It's long, but it fully captures the moments above, and while it's definitely going to be more entertaining for someone who actually went on the trip, I hope it will be somewhat entertaining to an outsider, as it fully captures some amazing moments from that tour which had previously been words on a page of my blog, like...
- the vats of lard-soaked plov that we consumed at the National Plov Center
- the wads of cash we carried around due to the extreme conversion rate of USD to Uzbek Som
- the abandoned amusement park that we sorta broke into
- how we started dancing at the Bukhara main square and inevitably became the life of the party for the almost-illegal New Year's Eve celebration
- the very odd State of the Union address 30 minutes before the New Year's eve countdown
- the Bukhara carnival that cost less than 20 cents to ride the go-karts
- Patricia's dancing in the local grocery store, and our dancing in the square, and our dancing with random street-cleaners
- the Uzbek wine-tasting that resulted in lots and lots of drunken dancing
- how we bribed an officer to see atop a minaret in the Registan and promised him we would never show anyone the footage/photos. Ever. Oops.
- Siavash's friend treating us to dinner and live music by a local accordion player
- my favorite part of the trip that I most repeat to anyone who asks "what was it like": the Khoja Obigarm Health Sanatorium, which was very Soviet-looking and super creepy and weird and I just loved it
- the mud baths we got at the aforementioned sanatorium
- Cosmic Bowling in Dushanbe, Tajikistan (just like home! but not!)
- taking goofy panoramic photos inside a massive tea dome
- the now-closed National Museum in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan that had pro-soviet, anti-American, and racist propaganda
- throwing snowballs at the Kok-Tobe park in Almaty, Kazakhstan
and so much more.
So take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy the 4-country, 14-day journey of the Silk Road 2016 in one digestible video. This video isn't a replacement for the panoramic views of the Hissar Fort, the unique smells of a street bazaar, and the touch of Tajik silk. But it's as close as you may get.