Tourists believe that Turkestan is a Kazakh Mecca. Most of them manage to see just the hotel they stay in and the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. This trip to Turkestan will be different because we will skip the legendary burial vaults but visit the heart of the city which is its central market.
It is better to photograph the market in summer when it is full of melons and watermelons, smelly sweet pepper and dried apricots, with lively locals saving themselves from heat with koumiss.
The market in winter is a combination is slush, ice and freezing air. But no one will ever say anything bad about it because it is the market which lets these people provide for their families.
Turkestan with a population of about 250 thousand people, has just 13 working industrial enterprises. They say their main enterprise is their market. It is a place where the city’s economy is concentrated. Over half the population of Turkestan is able to survive only due to the market.
Alexander lives close to the market. He was a mountaineer who used to travel a lot. In the 80s, he damaged his backbone so now he has to beg.
A 200-tenge bond (which is equivalent to $1.35) is the most demanded at the market.
You can have your shoes repaired for this money. In winter, these men work from 8 a.m. to make about 1,200 tenges ($8.10) a day.
You can also have your hair cut for 200 tenges.
Men and women have their hair cut in different buildings.
They don’t sell licensed disks, washing powder, shampoo and other detergents here. All of it is counterfeit and is produced in the buildings nearby.
Soft heelless boots and rubbers are the most popular kind of shoes here in Turkestan.
They sell rubbers for about 200 tenges.
On Sundays, you will find a lot of children working at the market. This six-grader works here until midday to be replaced with his older brother.
This couple sells dried melon they bring from a neighboring village. They make up to 2,000 tenges ($13.50) daily, while 300 tenges ($2.02) of what they make goes for rent.
These ladies sell fresh homemade food.
One serving of homemade sausage costs 150 tenges ($1.01).
You can also have a cup of tea with milk here.
These wash basins are made by people from Uzbekistan working in local shops.
They also make kitchen utensils, furniture, brooms and flat cakes. Local people made up a joke about them. It runs that if you pay a worker from Uzbekistan enough, he will manufacture anything for you, including a rocket.
Turkestan is a place where national costumes are first of all clothes but not souvenirs.
This kerchief is super warm.
This is one of the most difficult kinds of work which brings the worker up to 3,000 tenges ($20.25) daily.
Lamination is a very popular source of income for local young people. They charge about 200 tenges ($1.35) for this service.
It is also very popular among people to have their cellphone laminated. Why? Nobody knows.
This man used to work for a construction company. After it became a bankrupt, he had to return to Turkestan to sell chests.
He is the only male selling cradles at the market.
Those are taxi drivers playing a game.
On this street, you can buy coal and wood.
They have no central heating system in Turkestan but use stoves instead.
Selling hot tea to workers is a business too.
A local housewife.
In winter, the market closes earlier than usual, at 4 p.m.
It is not only its mausoleum which is surrounded by walls. It is the entire city which looks like one wall due to the arrangement of its houses.
In their backyards, people hide from summer heat.
It’s very hot in summer here in Turkestan. Temperatures reach 45 degrees Celsius!
This elderly lady is going home where she will have some tea from her samovar and get down to playing with her grandchildren and taking care of them. Tomorrow, she just like the majority of the people living here will go to work at the market again.