Thursday, August 26, 2010


No, this is not an Uzbek, it is a Roman, an ancient Roman for that matter: Marcus Porcius Cato the Elder (234- 126 BC)

Cato became famous for his persistence. Not a great orator himself, he nevertheless booked an improbable success in the Roman senate, by ending every session with the footnote 'Other than that, I am of the opinion that Carthago should be utterly destroyed'. He did it for years, finally convincing the others to go back to North Africa, after already having conquered the empire of Carthage, just to demolish the modest city that had resurged.

Well, I found the Cato of Khorezm, albeit less belligerent. A retired kolkhoz chief ended every meeting where higher officials were present, with the words ' Other than that, I am of the opinion we should reclaim the land across the collector' - a collector being a lake where saline leftovers of irrigation water end up. 'Across the collector' therefore means 'beyond irrigable land', 'in the desert', 'beyond civilization', or 'beyond reason'. Still, after almost five years of repeating this mantra at district and regional meetings, even in Tashkent, people gave in, a budget was released, and orders from the Tashkent ministries cascaded down to the desert edge of Kushqupyr, where a pipe was built over the collector, to bring usable water to the promising desert.

Rather quickly, the 500 ha reclaimed this way, were abandoned again, but still, a remarkable achievement. Persistence.

[Footnote: Al- Beruni, native Khorezmian, discovered America 5000 years ago. Mode of transportation unknown]

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