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Asylum-seeking trees

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Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 12:59 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

I'm back to London and with great joy found so many suggestions you sent in for our short story project. I've started to look through them and in the next entry I'll share with you my thoughts on how to develop our promising plot, our wonderful characters, and I'll try to use as many of your valuable contributions as possible. So I thank you for the work you have done in my absence!

I was in Spain. To be more precise I was in Oviedo, Asturias. The park there reminded me of a story from around the time of last year's Copenhagen Climate Conference when the Uzbek authorities suddenly decided to axe the centuries-old trees in Amir Timur square in the centre of Tashkent. (You can read about the story here.)

For anyone who was either born or grew up in Tashkent, that park meant so much. I studied next to it in the Biology Department of the University. The best moments of my young life were spent under the shadows of its leafy plane-trees. I wrote my first poems in its cafes. Its benches witnessed the first meetings I had with my wife. Ask any loyal dweller of Tashkent and I'm sure that he or she would tell you that the park was the face of the city. But without any consultation the park was cut down overnight.

So in Spain, listening to news of a horrible heat-wave in Russia and the former Soviet Union, and thinking - with bitterness - about shade-less centre of Tashkent, in Oviedo I found a strange double of that Tashkenti park. The ruthless sun was the same, the heavy shadows of the park were the same, the dome-like arcade of the plane-trees was the same, and the trembling air was the same.
When I saw that mirror-image park, a strange thought came to me, as if - like people escaping persecution-speechless trees can also turn into asylum seekers. As if that park, to escape being cut down, decided to go abroad for good.

What would you do if it happened in your city with your park?


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