Uzbek To My Roots

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20121205

Even as a 25-year-old north Londoner, Amy Cordell has grown up embracing the rituals, food and music of a far away world, one that still cleaves to the ancient traditions of her Bukharian grandparents who were once part of a 95,000-strong community of Jews living in Uzbekistan in central Asia.

Uzbek To My Roots is an audio diary tracing her journey back to her family's homeland, to the teeming provinces of Bukhara and Samarkand, along the Silk Road, in a reunion involving various cousins, aunts and uncles gathered from the UK, Israel and America.

Together they visit grandpapa John's place of birth, where he went to school, played and worshipped. Against a backdrop of palaces and mosques, wide avenues and imposing, intricate architecture, they find the old Jewish quarter and its cemeteries still largely intact and encounter an array of characters, from carpet and silk sellers to street acrobats, and visit a bazaar filled with gold-teethed women trading in gold, silk and velvet garments.

Amy and her party are embarking on a voyage of discovery: to learn both their family's back-story and about themselves as they travel by coach, car and plane, crossing the length and breadth of this vast cotton growing country where Western impulses are encroaching on long held custom and tradition.

Producer: Sara Parker

A Tonic production for BBC Radio 4.