Nukus: The king and his kingdom

IMG_6756We reach Nukus when sun is setting, off the small plane, walking straight through the airplane parking. Breezing the salty air in, taking in the flat horizon. Only desert knows how to hug in the sun.

He picks us up from the airport. He is 43. Tall and skinny, sun dried. Just like the desert, his strength is hidden under his dark and dry skin. But I can still see that he laughs a lot, it shows on his wrinkled face and thinks even more, it shows on his wrinkled forehead.

He grew up as a hooligan, skipping school, wasting his time on geography, he insists. Calling himself “a garbage man with higher education”. When he was a student, he read an article that some around the world cyclist named Nukus the dirtiest city in the world. It offended him. He started collecting garbage, then processing it, now he is a millionaire.

But that hasn’t changed him at all, he still wears white and grey Chinese sewn clothes and works as much as his employees.

He made many mistakes in life, hurt many people, but one thing he did right. His work, and he loves his God-forgotten town. So he wants to be remembered for it.

All of this he tells as we leisurely looking at exhibits of famous Savitsky, a madman who came to Nukus and collected Soviet Avangarde art. Putting his life at risk, driven by his idea, a savour of so many souls and works. I wonder what strength it might take to keep flowing as water deep under the sands of sun-dried land, like these men do.

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