Friday, January 01, 2010

new year

new year is a big deal here, perhaps the biggest deal of the year. our place in taraz is just a few blocks from the central square and ever since we arrived it has been all decked out for the new year celebration, with amusement park-style rides, carnval games and treats roasting on an open flame.

i had heard that on new years eve the locals stay up all night going to parties and at midnight they all converge on the central square. so at 11:30 pm last night, i went over to see what i could see.

it was not nearly as crowded as i expected, hardly the whole town. i think there were more people at the dinner hour than at midnight. but people were there of all ages, toddlers walked by with their grandparents. it didn't matter how late it was.

at midnight the air around me exploded. literally. everyone around me had some form of fire cracker. all of a sudden rockets streamed across the square leaving a trail of sparks in their wake. the ground exploded on every side of me. fireworks left tracers across my field of vision from all sides. i felt like a war movie. i got hit by a few sparkling debris from all the explosions. it only hurt a little bit. for some reason i wasn't afraid to be there, but i kept thinking: this is very dangerous.

none of the kids or their parents seemed concerned. at the edge of the square was a parked ambulance. the driver looked bored.