Raviliya Kadyrova and Elvira Kadyrova
Ashgabat, 12 August 2017 (nCa) — Early morning time at our home is coffee and window time. The coffee is usually some unremarkable instant blend but the window is always special.
This window of our 4th floor apartment opens to a view of lush, tall trees, laden with so many different hues of green. Inside this enchanting wall of green, there is a triangle that allows us to look at a small patch of sidewalks and road, behind which we can see nearly one-fifth of a football field.
We call this window our barometer of the society.
A couple of years ago, in our early morning coffee ritual, our window showed some pensioners strolling on the sidewalks and some dog owners walking their different breeds of dogs.
Now the scene has changed.
In the growing visibility of early dawn we see young people jogging in small groups, some briskly but most of them leisurely. There are kids on bicycles, and even there are young mothers pushing the strollers of their toddlers.
This window, this barometer of the society, is showing some positive trends.
* * *
Sometimes a question can be best answered by posting another question.
If the question is: What is the need for such expensive Games – Ashgabat 2017 – that will end in just ten days?
The counter-question is: Why do we need a healthy nation, a cohesive society?
If the question is: Why should the government be so heavily focused on Ashgabat 2017?
The counter-question is: Why should a government, any government, be focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle, free of drugs and violence?
In any case, the short answer to both the questions is that Turkmenistan is not just looking at the Games. What is of prime importance is the life beyond Ashgabat 2017.
The motto of Ashgabat 2017 is: Health, Inspiration, Friendship. ——- This motto doesn’t have an expiry date.
It is a condensed version of the domestic and foreign policy of Turkmenistan.
* * *
In our quest to discover the impact of Ashgabat 2017 on the society, we looked around and asked some questions.
What was immediately noticeable was that the fashion shops have fewer plus size dresses now. We asked a shopkeeper for the reason. “Most of the women who were in plus-size range have shed some weight,” she said.
We also noted that the sale of meat has gone slightly down and more and more people are increasing the share of vegetables on their table.
The young females are not very keen on stiletto high heels any more. They prefer low platform or flat shoes, which are easy on the feet for walking and don’t give stress to backbone and muscles.
When visiting our friends for lunch or dinner at their homes, we see that there is only a symbolic presence of carbonated drinks. The stress is on juices or just plain water. “Water is the best drink in the world,” said a friend recently.
More and more people are going to the gyms and exercise centres. We see every mid-morning a number of people, with rolled exercise mats in their tote bags, returning home from their fitness classes.
* * *
Perhaps everyone can agree that we are driven by our habits. Our habits decide the course of our life, our sequence of successes and failures.
It is easy to see that habits are formed by our lifestyle. ——- And, lifestyle in any society is the total sum of what is cool and what is not, what is in, what is out.
As we see from our perspective as the members of the Turkmenistani society, the sharp focus on Ashgabat 2017 is redefining what is cool and what is not, what is in, what is out.
This transformation of the society cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
* * *
Surely, awareness of the need for a healthy lifestyle is a core outcome of Ashgabat 2017, and it is visible already. It will continue for as long as we can maintain the narrative that it is cool to be healthy and happy.