This wonderful book tracks the experiences of Chris Aslan Alexander in his charitable work setting up a carpet weaving factory in Uzbekistan in Central Asia. I knew Chris in the early 1990′s and so this book was a bit of a catch up for me. But far more, it is a fascinating insight into the everyday lives of a broken country.
Chris initially went to Uzbekistan with Operation Mercy to help write a travel manual. He documents his experiences of culture shock, suffering through bitter winters and scorching summers, struggling with language, corruption and, ultimately, falling in love with the city of Khiva and its people. The main focus is the carpet weaving business set up under the auspices of UNESCO, but He skillfully weaves ancient and recent history into his narrative as well, painting a vibrant picture of everyday Uzbek life.
Chris writes with a personal and engaging style, drawing the reader in. By the end of it I wanted to visit! Anyone who has an interest in Central Asia, travel in general, or cross cultural development work will enjoy this book.
4 stars, I really liked it.