Give me two


Gap

‘Gap’ in Uzbek means ‘conversation’. Yet, the word has another meaning, a unique game, the participants of which help each other by word and cash. Our authors not only explain the essence and the rules of a gap game but also distinguish the male and female versions of the game.

Roles


Radmila:When I was ten, Nazira-opa, the mother of my friend, explained the principle of a gap party to me. Friends or relatives regularly meet, in order to talk and to raise money for a long-desired object of someone’s dreams or for someone’s current needs. A group up to 20 people comes and chats for hours about everything.

A woman holds a gap party only when she reaches a certain age, when she gets the right to express her opinion and to tell her husband or her mother-in-law about her desires. This happens at about 35. My grandmother plays gap with the wives of her husband’s schoolmates. Nazira-opa, for example, plays gap in three different companies: with her colleagues, her former classmates, beauticians and the women she attends a gym with. I asked my grandmother how important the gap is for her. She answered jokingly: “We are our own animators, psychotherapists and the bank that issues us interest-free loans”.

Humoyun: I have been playing gap with my schoolmates and my mahalla neighbors (a mahalla is a local community, a quarter in Uzbek). They do not raise money here, they just eat pilaf together. When seeing my friends for gap, I pay 50,000 sum as a fee. On the one hand, the gap game implies regular meetings, talks, discussion of problems and ways to solve them. On the other hand, they raise money there.

Money


Radmila: Nazira-opa that the money raised during a gap party is the best support for people who have a low income or no income at all. “A person can afford to buy something big. As a rule, people play with dollars: the dollar is a stable currency, and this helps avoiding losses when the currency exchange rate goes up or down”.

Granny gets her “winnings” approximately once a year, in dollars. This is always an event which is important for the family budget. Once she bought a modern fridge, the next year, it was a washing-machine, then she made a contribution to the dowry of my aunt, and recently she bought a big plasma TV. And once she afforded to buy a whole set of gold jewelry for herself.

Humoyun: Last month, I received 750.000 sum at the gap party. I used the money to pay for my tuition. I have been doing that for the last three years. For me, the gap is a kind of a fund where I make contributions for 14 months, and then I can receive the whole sum at once. This is a kind of an Uzbek savings bank. My classmates invest in cattle, for example, they buy a sheep or a bull, in order to multiply their income. If I invest my 750.000 sum in a sheep, I will be able to sell in in three or four months at 1.000.000 or 1.200.000 sum. This is good business in the countryside.

My school friend Bobur will hold a gap party this month. He is planning to spend his revenue on his wedding, as it is very expensive to arrange a wedding in Uzbekistan.

A team


Radmila: In women’s gaps, those are privileged to get the money first who are facing a wedding or who are expecting a baby. My granny’s gaps are usually held once a month, at the weekend.

Humoyun: I play gap with my schoolmates once a month, on Sunday evening. After each member of the group has received his revenue, a new round begins. Then the rules may be revised. Everyone wants to start, in order to be the first to receive 750,000 sum.

A typical gap meeting


Radmila: Since my childhood, I have been observing the gaps of my granny. Earlier she arranged them at home. For us, women, that meant spending a whole day in the kitchen, in the festive tumult and in a happy mood, anticipating 15 Granny’s friends to come for dinner. I always felt like I was at a theater, as the guests were dressed up, passionately shared the latest news about their family members, their problems and, of course, different secrets of women’s beauty.

These are the typical conversations one can overhear during a women’s gap meeting:

— This week, six men proposed to my granddaughter: now we are thinking. By the way, their parents are all very rich. — I have recently ordered a new dress to be made: I need it for my son’s wedding. — Nadira could have prepared better: Sulhumor had much more food on her table.

Now Granny organizes gaps in a restaurant: according to her, this is much simpler and more convenient. Besides, they can dance there. A friend of mine told me that small plays were staged at the gaps her mother organized.

Humoyun: We arrange gaps only in chaihanas (tea-houses). We discuss lots of subjects, sometimes we even argue. Honestly speaking, we talk a lot about girls, as we are all single. We share advice how to earn money best, as we all want to be rich.

These are the examples of conversations during a men’s gap party:

— I have recently seen Nigor’s sister walking in the park with some guy I do not know. — Farida has a wedding in June, but she calls me every evening. — That was a super match: Real Madrid – Barcelona. It is good that Real won.
© Radmila Rasuleva
© Humoyun Tursunov
This material came into being resulting from a young authors’ workshop organized by the Goethe-Institute in Tashkent on May 25-27, 2017. At the workshop, professional editors from Berlin Julia Bockler (ifa) and Leon Krenz (ze.tt) taught the young authors to write. At our request, they edited the texts and photo reports prepared by the authors ‘on a turn-key basis’ and describing different aspects of the consumption society of Uzbekistan.

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