Knock, knock! Hey, Uzbekistan! You in there?
As Kevin and I wandered Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. we came upon the embassy of Uzbekistan.
I’ve been enamored with the country since my senior year of high school when I met Jurabek Aripov in my senior year. He was an exchange student (with the YFU program instead of the more fashionable AFS program) and lived with the Wagners just outside of Kekoskee.
His country was always a mystery to me and it seemed like a place from the deepest depths of my imagination, which made Jurabek a very exciting person. I had no idea what his country was like and since this was in the time before the Internet, I could find very little information in the Mayville Public Library.
In the interest of educating visitors about our culture, Tom, Mike and I took him with us to the Dodge County Fair to see David Lee Roth. We sat at the top of the bleachers with a lookout high over the fairgrounds. As we waited for the concert to begin, we spat off the back and watched our loogies drift on the currents to the crowd below. During the concert we got Jurabek to help us begin a chant for ‘Hot for Teacher,’ a call that DLR never obliged.
But that was in the past, now here I was, a man of 30, standing in front of Jurabek’s embassy. I imagined it would be a happy exchange. I’d tell them that I knew Jurabek and they would say: “Well, come in friend, please. Let’s have some strudel (I bet they eat a lot of strudel in Uzbekistan. Actually probably not).”
Then Kevin and I would go in and we would eat strudel and they would tell us delightful tales of the economy of Uzbekistan, the peoples and the scenery.
One of my favorite memories of Jurabek involved a blind date (not between Jurabek and me). After I went out with this girl, I e-mailed Jurabek because that is what you do when you go on blind dates, you e-mail your friends to tell them you went on a blind date.
Jurabek laughed at the story of my awkward date and then he said, “Here in Uzbekistan we have a thing like blind dates, it’s called marriage.”
So Kevin and I walked up to the door at the embassy.
I rang the doorbell.
“Kyle Freund, American citizen sir,” I said. “May I visit the embassy of Uzbekistan?”
“We aren’t open right now,” was the curt reply. “We will be open tomorrow.”
“But I leave for New Mexico tomorrow, couldn’t you let me in? I just want to see if you have any information for visitors.”
“We are not open. The embassy will be open tomorrow.”
I didn’t seem to be getting very far, so I pulled out my ace in the hole.
“I have a friend from Uzbekistan,” I stated. “He would be very disappointed if you didn’t let me know. Plus I’m leaving tomorrow, so I won’t be able to visit the embassy ever again.”
And what if I die in an accident the next day, never having lived to see the embassy of Uzbekistan? I imagined it might be the closest I ever get to Uzbekistan.
But it was to no avail. They would not let me in.