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The Silk Road conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. A Carpet Ride to Khiva sees Alexander being stripped naked at a former Soviet youth camp, crawling through silkworm droppings in an attempt to record their life-cycle, holed up in the British Museum discovering carpet designs dormantThe Silk Road conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. A Carpet Ride to Khiva sees Alexander being stripped naked at a former Soviet youth camp, crawling through silkworm droppings in an attempt to record their life-cycle, holed up in the British Museum discovering carpet designs dormant for half a millennia, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing natural dyes from sacks of opium in Northern Afghanistan, bluffing his way through an impromptu version of My Heart Will Go On for national Uzbek TV and seeking sanctuary as an anti-Western riot consumed the Kabul carpet bazaar....

Title : a carpet ride to khiva seven years on the silk road
Author :
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ISBN : 13334406
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 372 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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a carpet ride to khiva seven years on the silk road Reviews

  • janet
    2019-04-08 20:57

    It's complicated when you dearly love a screwed-up and beautiful country that rejects you or who you are forced to leave. I understood this before reading this book based on my time in Vietnam. Though I chose to leave, part of me is still there. Well, Aslan's book perfectly captures the complexity of just this situation, and though I picked it up to prepare for a trip to Uzbekistan, this book has evoked a remarkable number of connections to the people I have known, the places I have been as an ex-pat, and current events.He paints a picture of the glorious history of the Silk Road and how, much later while part of the Soviet Union women, removed the veil and pork and vodka were added to the Uzbek diet. Meanwhile, the current government sucks the life blood out of the people through corruption causing many of the men to go to the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan for work greatly affecting the patriarchal family structure there. (No, a feminist revolution hasn't developed so far.) Enter Aslan, our narrator and volunteer for Operation Mercy, who gets a carpet workshop going based on some ancient designs from the days of the Silk Road which are exquisite, enabling him to provide a number of very decent jobs for Khiva's most vulnerable citizens, mostly women. He also lived with a local family whose fortunes he was also able to improve. Though he is very respectful of local customs and fond of the people, he maintains a rather wry sense of humor about some of his acquaintances' actions, statements, and experiences which I enjoyed immensely. Though that is all interesting, I keep thinking about the way other events in the world changed Aslan's story. In 2005, a massacre of 500-700 people in a devoutly Muslim community in SE Uzbekistan occurred. When the international community condemned these acts, Uzbekistan systematically expelled the majority of the NGO workers in the country which basically ended in Aslan's exile from his "home".Tragically, the news of the day has me thinking about Aslan and his book again. Though many of us who live overseas may have become quite cynical about ineffectual NGOs represented by either ridiculously naive volunteers or jaded, if not arrogant, development consultants who drive around in SUVS and sip cocktails under ceiling fans among the other foreigners in any given city on the backpacker circuit, the reality is that there are a number of people who are dedicated to doing what they can to make the world a better place. In Mazar-i-Sharif, the town in Afghanistan where Aslan frequently went to buy his natural dyes, 7 UN workers were just killed today on April 1st, 2011, in a riot spurned on by a wacko burning a Koran in Florida. At the same time, I mourn their loss and lament the fact that politics forced Aslan to abandon the people he was trying to help in Khiva. However, as he revealed at the end of the book he has moved on to help people in similar projects in the region. When I go to Khiva in a little over a week from now, I am going to try to find the workshop he began and tell them Aslan sent me.

  • Alex
    2019-04-17 16:03

    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.

  • Oana
    2019-04-12 22:00

    Read this for research on an upcoming trip to Uzbekistan. Very enjoyable and easy to get into. My one quibble was that the author consistently calls women girls. Putting feminist reasons for this quibble aside, can I appeal to the author in the name of clarity instead? For example, at one part, he says that there were girls in the street. Without context (what were they doing in the street? playing? going home with groceries), I was not sure whether he meant girls as in little kids or women. Up until that point, he had used girls interchangeably with women so it's possible he could have meant either. My advice is that, while many women like the youthfulness implied in being called a girl, it's better to keep this to conversation rather than expository text where the meaning is confusing (and all that feminist stuff too).Two other points that are not quibbles, just things I would like to discuss with friends: 1. Was the 2006 Kabul riot really not a car accident as the US media claims? Was the driver really "stoned, drunk, or crazy"? Was there a cover-up? 2. Why didn't the author marry Aksana despite the challenges?

  • Kathryn
    2019-03-25 20:15

    I enjoyed this story of someone who went to Uzbekistan - originally to write (or translate, I can’t remember) a guide book, but who ended up starting up a carpet weaving workshop. It was interesting to read of life in Khiva, dye-buying excursions into Afghanistan and the resultant problems trying to bring back sacks of ground up materials (suitable for dyeing) past 2 sets of border police (and what one might let you get away with, the others won’t!), and the politics of life in the workshop.I felt it was a bit slow to get started - and had to keep flipping back and forth to remind myself of who people were and why the author was wherever he was, but once I got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.

  • Icon Books
    2019-04-12 20:13

    Chris Alexander originally travelled to Khiva, a remote walled city in Uzbekistan on the route of the ancient Silk Road, to write a guidebook. But he stayed, mesmerized by a world of silk and forgotten 15th-century carpet designs – discovering indigo blue, madder red, pomegranate gold and the subtle shades of life in a desert oasis. Alexander’s entrancing travelogue sees him stripped naked at a former Soviet youth camp, crawling through silkworm droppings, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing natural dyes from sacks of opium in Northern Afghanistan, bluffing his way through My Heart Will Go On for Uzbek TV and seeking sanctuary as an anti-Western riot consumed the Kabul carpet bazaar. The result is an unforgettable true story of a journey to the heart of the unknown.--------------‘The fact the author lived and worked among Khiva’s inhabitants for so long distinguishes A Carpet Ride to Khiva from many travel books, as we glimpse life in a Central Asian “desert oasis” of silk, carpets, and extraordinarily colourful natural dyes.’ Financial Times‘Too many travel writers visit Central Asia in a hurry, bulking out their own misadventures with a slice of the region’s colourful history. But the strength of this readable book derives from the author’s patience: after seven years in Uzbekistan, Alexander has provided a frank and penetrating portrait of the country, with all its contradictions and absurdities. He writes with clear-eye observation and courage, and never fails to emphasize the ingrained hospitality and random acts of kindness that remind you that, in spite of everything, Central Asia is still an exceptionally alluring place.’ Times Literary Supplement‘Sitting down to read A Carpet Ride to Khiva over the festive season was like entering an oasis of peace and quiet ... like the carpet patterns so intricately interwoven and linked, Alexander’s account of his seven years in Khiva gives us a feel for daily life looped and crisscrossed with weddings, corrupt officials, journeys in rickety buses, gossip at the looms, domestic violence and village hospitality, all of it centreing on the carpet project.’ Irish Times‘A Carpet Ride to Khiva is full of colour ... Alexander is a personable companion as he brings to life the ancient craft of carpet-making, blending the history of the Silk Road with characterful accounts of his team’s perfecting of traditional dye techniques (a search for madder root sent him over the border into post-invasion Afghanistan) and silk weaving (there’s an extraordinary description of silkworms devouring mulberry branches before spinning silk cocoons.)’ Metro‘Most travelogues chart a journey, but in this case it is the author’s decision to stay put that lifts his book out of the ordinary. Christopher Aslan Alexander first travelled to Uzbekistan to research a guidebook about Khiva but, enchanted by this little-known region of Central Asia on the ancient Silk Route, he ended up becoming a resident. This memoir of his seven years in the city – during which he learnt the language, was adopted by a local Uzbek family and started a carpet-weaving workshop employing local women – lifts the lid on a world that is usually unseen by western eyes.’ BBC Lonely Planet magazine ‘[An] enjoyable account of the seven years the author spent in the remote desert oasis of Khiva, Uzbekistan’. Bookseller‘This travelogue enriches our understanding of a little-known world, and as Christopher is taken into an Uzbeki family there are some nice touches as West meets East - like when he is hailed a mystic for predicting Bobby Ewing’s return from the grave as Uzbekis get their first taste of Dallas.’ News of the World‘Unsparing in his censure of Uzbekistan’s repressive government, the author nevertheless paints a sympathetic and often humorous portrait of Khiva’s residents … More than just a tableau of Khiva, the book also paints a picture of a foreigner’s integration into the community.’ Wanderlust – book of the week‘[A Carpet Ride to Khiva] serves as a primer on the mysteries of sericulture, and on the endless ramifications of the natural-dyer's craft. His pursuit of powdered madder root takes him deep into Afghanistan, whence he emerges after close shaves.’ Independent‘Alexander is an excellent guide through the chaos of local life, and his writing is thick with his adventures in this walled city, drawing a vivid portrait of the domestic lives of his Uzbek hosts with great affection and humour, while also casting his eye over the history of trade on the Silk Road.’ Sunday Telegraph‘The fact the author lived and worked among Khiva’s inhabitants for so long distinguishes A Carpet Ride to Khiva from many travel books, as we glimpse life in a Central Asian “desert oasis” of silk, carpets, and extraordinarily colourful natural dyes.’ Financial Times‘An extraordinary tale of adventure and enterprise set in the heart of Central Asia, beautifully told, by a most unusual young man. Hopefully it will inspire others to embark on similar ventures.’ Peter Hopkirk, author of The Great Game‘Everything about the carpet making process is fascinating, from the designs to the rate at which weavers are paid, and Chris describes it all in intimate detail … The book also paints a picture of the Uzbek way of life, both the day-to-day lives of Khivan families and the intricate workings of a government system which hasn’t quite made it out of the Soviet era.’‘[A Carpet Ride to Khiva] is compelling, funny and sad, has great characterisations, lovely photographs, and would work as a really unusual gift.’ Reform‘A deeply personal memoir, A Carpet Ride to Khiva is a magical and often hilarious story of one man’s adventure into the heart of the unknown ... While A Carpet Ride to Khiva reveals how contradictory and different daily life is in Uzbekistan, the reader leaves with a deeply satisfying, lingering sense of how similar we all are.’ Positive News

  • Val
    2019-04-10 17:57

    The author went to Khiva in Uzbekistan with a development organisation to collaborate on a guide book. Development organisations sponsored his setting up a carpet making workshop and later one embroidering cushion covers. He stayed much longer than he first intended and only left, reluctantly, when his visa was not renewed. There is a lot of detail about finding places for the workshops, workers, designs, silk, dyestuffs, etc. There is not as much detail about Uzbekistan and its people as I was hoping for, but there is some. To describe Uzbekistan as a failed state implies that it might at one time have been a successful one and is misleading. It went from feuding feudalism, to vassal of the Russian Empire, to Soviet Republic to independence and a form of western capitalism which consists primarily of corruption, bribery, nepotism and not paying the workers. The workshops making craft goods for Silk Road tourists, with the minimum of exploitation and bribery are a step in the right direction, but the overall picture is a depressing one.After his forced break with Khiva, the author went on to help with a similar carpet making workshop in Afghanistan (using wool instead of silk and again locally inspired designs) and then a project to make jumpers from yak hair in Tajikistan. I hope all the projects continue.

  • John
    2019-03-28 21:52

    Good overview of the author's time in Uzbekistan (around 9/11 and after) setting up and running a handmade carpet factory on behalf of a charity, although I did find it frustrating that he was obviously avoiding details of his personal life to such an extent.This one makes a good follow up to Sheila Paine's trilogy of searching the globe in search of the history of a specific embroidery design.

  • Kathy
    2019-03-30 21:08

    An endearing and inspiring storyWhat a great adventure! I just found myself wanting more details--What happened to the workshop and the weavers after he left? How did the Uzbek guest house work out? Did the experiment inspire others? I would have loved to see some photos. Maybe there were some in the print version but not the electronic version I read.

  • Magdalen
    2019-04-07 14:59

    Amazing book about Uzbekistan (not much literature of this country). Great introduction and it was awesome to visit the workshop itself in Khiva and some of the characters mentioned in the book.

  • Ruth Reynolds
    2019-03-30 15:20

    Wow. There are no words. You just have to go ahead and read it.Not only is Chris a talented author (though believe it or not this is his first book!), but he takes you along with him on the journey as he studies the art of carpet making and then proceeds to set up a carpet weaving factory that provides employment for those unable to work due to social or cultural barriers.Chris is able to describe places, people and events with amazing clarity; painting a picture with his words so that you can see, hear and feel as he does. He has evidently worked hard in researching before setting pen to paper and yet the content does not feel heavy. He incorporates an incredible amount of historical and cultural detail within the text in a way that enables the reader to learn a vast quantity of information without realising it, as he weaves these gems into the storyline and introduces fact through the medium of everyday life as it was for him.This book truly is a must-read.

  • James
    2019-04-09 14:59

    Alexander's book is hard to define - it details his seven years in Uzbekistan, where he helped set up a carpet factory. He explains the difficulties facing ordinary Uzbeki people in their day-to-day lives, the culture, the socio-political environment, and its history, which gives a fascinating insight into a country few really know about. I found it very interesting, and there are some amusing incidents along the way - I have two personal favourites. The first is when Alexander is at the Afghan embassy in Tashkent, (applying for a visa to Afghanistan so he can purchase some dye). When he asks the staff if Afghanistan is safe, he is given the response: "Of course Afghanistan is safe! It's always been safe!" The second is when his host family watch British television - Alexander notes that the little boy couldn't believe how much money British people would pay for old and useless things!

  • Susan
    2019-04-09 23:11

    Fascinating book by a young man who, knowing nothing about weaving or rugs, found himself i Uzbekistan (working on a project which was of little interest to him. He turned this into an opportunity to learn the language and integrate rather fully into the local culture and economy. His accounts of his personal relationships are wonderful. But of especial interest to me was his description of the rugs he helped design, the inspirations, the cooperative work with others. His project found a way to employ women and those who would generally be the last employed. And then - given the craziness of the local politics - he left on holiday and could not get a visa to return under any circumstances. Wonderful book.

  • Hannah Wingfield
    2019-03-22 19:15

    Very mixed feelings about this book. On the plus side, I am fascinated by this part of the world and the author educated me very well about it. He also did a brilliant job of interweaving history, politics, sociology and various aspects of Uzbek life (work, relationships, religion, traditions etc.) into the chronological tale of his seven years there. But, and it's a big but, I found he occasionally came across as having an overblown sense of his own importance and at times bordered on misogyny. I don't think he set out to be a dick and he would probably be offended/defensive of himself. So therefore I have to give the book 3 stars, but with different editing it could have been 5 stars. And I'd still recommend it to those interested in the region.

  • Bertil
    2019-04-10 21:07

    Läste den på svenska, den gavs ut helt nyligen på Narin förlag. ISBN för den svenska versionen: 978-91-978909-3-9.Chris Alexander berättar på ett levande sätt om sin upplevelse i Chiva, en stad belägen vid sidenvägen i Uzbekistan. Han åkte dit för att skriva en guidebok men blev kvar i sju år som biståndsarbetare för biståndsorganisationen Operation Mercy ( för att starta ett mattväveri, ett biståndsprojekt tillsammans med FN-organet UNESCO.En välskriven bok som ger en inblick i en helt annan kultur än den västerländska. Rekommenderas.

  • Chris Steeden
    2019-03-22 18:09

    A great first book by Christopher. Provides a great overview of his time in Uzbekistan and the setting up of a carpet workshop. The detail in the book of the politics, environment and his work is very clear and wonderful to read. His enthusiasm for his work and the people in Khiva (apart from the Mayor) is loud-and-clear. You cannot help but hope for the best for him and the people around him.I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to visit the country and especially Khiva. I doubt I will ever get there but thanks to Christopher I have a good idea of the place.

  • Karen (Kew)
    2019-03-19 18:01

    I found this fascinating to read. I'm interested in crafts so I enjoyed reading about how they set up the workshop, as well as about their research into patterns and developing natural dyes. I also enjoyed reading about the people that the author met in Khiva. Very saddening though to read about how corruption is ruining people's lives. This is a well-written account that I found so interesting that it was hard to put down!

  • Jen
    2019-03-30 20:53

    This was written by someone I met as I was living in Khiva as a Peace Corps Volunteer. He arrived around the same time I did, and stayed for 7 years. I was hesitant to read this book, as my memories of Khiva are very personally ingrained, and I didn't agree with some of the activities of the organization that brought the author to Khiva. That being said, I found myself enjoying the book - the trials and tribulations of working on projects in Uzbekistan and the depictions of Khiva itself.

  • Ceels
    2019-04-19 22:02

    I read this book on a long drive day from Bukhara to Khiva and loved it. It felt a little bit awkward and self conscious at the beginning, but it was a fascinating look into a different world. It was amazing to read it and then get to see the place. I got so sucked in to the book that I felt like I had lived in Khiva for seven years when we arrived. I got to meet the women in the carpet weaving shop and it was quite magical.

  • Tara
    2019-04-01 18:17

    An enjoyable piece of travel writing which doubled as the author's exercise in catharsis about the end of his time in the Uzbekistan city of Khiva as an aid worker who helped set up a sustainable carpet business. Bittersweet, as the "real world" of global politics and corruption eventually intervened in a charming narrative. Made me desperate for one of the amazing carpets though!

  • Erika
    2019-04-08 15:57

    Moving, exciting, educational, thought provoking. Overall a book well worth reading. It requires no effort as you are drawn forward page by page by a well written and at times heart wrenching saga of a man's foray into a foreign and at times brutal culture. I found this book to be enchanting but at times quite difficult reading, well worth the hours I spent reading it.

  • Marissa
    2019-04-15 18:11

    An incredible and truly inspiring tale. Alexander's vivid, direct prose is full of details that will educate readers about Khiva, Uzbekistan and the carpet-weaving craft without posing a distraction from his personal story. Read an interview with Christopher Aslan Alexander from Words With Writers:

  • Manika Dhama
    2019-04-15 18:09

    This book is a journey into a fascinating culture and its crumbling edifice, of daily triumphs amidst layers of corruption, of a young man finding a new life, a new family and a purpose in a land he now calls home.My complete review of the book is here

  • Norman
    2019-04-04 23:19

    A slightly different travel yarn about a guy who travels to Uzbekhistan to do some charity work and ends up setting up a carpet factory in Khiva. In his time there he gains some great insights into the local ways of life. Ultimately the book made me want to explore this region - always a good indicator that the travel writer has done his job! Great read!

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-16 19:05

    An enjoyable but occasionally sad read about the author's seven years in Khiva in Uzbekistan, much of which was spent reviving the art of handmade silk carpet making. I enjoyed the mix in the book between the author's observations of Uzbek life and people, the details about reviving local crafts, and travel.

  • Elena
    2019-03-27 15:55

    3 and ½ starsWell written but sometimes too rushed. The author's isn't the one listed, but Christopher ASLAN Alexander, born in Turkey and grown up in war-torn Beirut. Hope to hear from him again :)Epub bought on the Google Play Store lacks images that some people wrote about in the book's blog :( soooo disappointed!

  • Farah Nadiah
    2019-03-20 16:12

    A truly inspiring book of how a man who travels to a strange land can make a difference in the society. In anticipation of my trip to Central Asia, now that I have read this book, I can't wait to go visit Uzbekistan.

  • Den
    2019-03-31 17:10

    Around the World: UzbekistanThe author travels to Uzbekistan and gets immersed in its culture and way of life. So much so that he makes himself a life there, making and selling carpets but things are short lived because troubles brew and he finds himself separated from the life he is used to.

  • Linda
    2019-03-24 20:55

    I read this in preparation for an upcoming trip to Uzbekistan and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. It's filled with information about the culture and cautionary tales about how the power structure works. Brilliant.

  • Debbie
    2019-03-25 17:09

    I enjoyed this book about starting and running a rug business in Kazakstan.The title does not explain this book at all.This describes day to day living in Khiva and trips into Afghanistan for dyes for the rugs.More Americans should read this book.

  • Caroline Lupini
    2019-04-14 20:04

    Enjoyed reading about someone who lived in Khiva while I was beginning my travels through Uzbekistan. It gave me some additional insights about the culture and I was especially excited to visit the carpet workshop when I eventually made my way to Khiva.