Soviet Watermelon Jam is the story of a journey in the Stans (suffix, which means country / nation and characterizing the name of the states in the area of Central Asia), of the atmospheres I breathed and of the people I met, among mountains of watermelons and reminiscences of communism and of the Soviet Union.
This “no man’s land” has always been one of the most sought after prey on the part of Western conquerors, eventually ending up as a part of USSR.
During seventy years of Soviet rule, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the countries that, from the highest mountain ranges in the world to the vast desert territories once marked the route of the Silk Road, have passed directly from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century. And today, after twenty-five years of autonomy, all five nations are still searching for their identity, between East and West and between old and new, in the middle of Asia, surrounded by great powers such as Russia and China, or by troubled neighbours like Iran and Afghanistan.
The contrasts unite them: decades of Soviet domination coexist with local administrations, the exorbitant wealth given by gas and oil with the most extreme poverty, the cult of personality with archaic customs still vital. And while the steppes are filled with ultramodern buildings and luxurious villas inhabited by new despots, the passion for carpets and bazaars, love for horses and camels, and countless local traditions continue to survive.