Buzkashi!

I may have had some odd expectations when I first came to Tajikistan. I may have thought that I was going to spend the year riding on yaks, defending Sogdiana from Alexander the Great. In reality, I spend most of my time sitting in cafes, trying to explain that I don’t speak Russian.

But sometimes, Tajikistan lives up to my weird stereotypes. On Saturday, we went to see Buzkashi. Buz means goat, like what we often eat for dinner. Kashidan means to pull, like on a goat.  Before I tell you about it, maybe just watch the video I took. It probably captures the whole thing better than I can:

Buzkashi involves a bunch of dudes riding around on horses, trying to steal a goat carcass from each other. They have these crazy whips that they use to pick up the carcass , and to whip everything in sight (including each other). They also wear cool hats. The crazy whips are cow intestines. The cool hats are Soviet tank helmets.

Action scene

The point of the game is to get the goat carcass into the goal. On Saturday, the goal was a big hole dug in the ground between two Tajik flags.

When you watch a Buzkashi tournament, you stand up on mountains or hills. Then, down in the valley, all the dudes kash the buz. You can walk down closer to watch. In fact, you can walk down on the field. Many people do this. It greatly increase their chances of being trampled. Some guy decided to set up his snack stand too close to the field, and it got trampled. Good-bye, candy-bars.

View of the "stadium." Note the camel in the corner. More on him in a minute.

Now then, how would you go about organizing a Buzkashi match? On first gland, it didn’t seem like it needed any organization at all. Anyone who wanted to play could, as long as they brought their horse (or mule. or yak, maybe?). There were not teams. Everyone just wanted to get the buz for himself and shove it in the goal. The game took place in a big valley between two villages about an hour outside of Dushanbe.

More action

But, it is actually really well organized. Somebody had to dig up the floor of a valley and turn it into a giant buzkashi field. Somebody had to invite all the villagers and all the foreigners and also the President’s son. Somebody had to organize the prizes.

On Saturday, the prizes were mostly rugs. But the “grand prize” was a bactrian camel. I don’t know who won the camel. It was not me. Unfortunately.

This Bactrian Camel was the grand prize.

I was pretty excited about Buzkashi. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I kept waking up to see if it was time to go yet, like a little kid before Christmas.

Buzkashi feels pretty much like a sporting event anywhere in the world. Kids walk around selling coca cola and seeds and hot dogs. Young people get far too worked up. Basically, Buzkashi was like my version of March Madness. For me, in both cases the fun is not so much the competition itself, but the atmosphere and festivities that accompany it.

Except usually at sporting events back home there aren’t teenagers goofing around on horseback in the stands. Back home, said teenagers also usually don’t lend you their horse to take pictures with, which is a shame.

A young boy lent me his horse in order to snap an awesome photo.

I guess Buzkashi wins. Sorry, basketball.

The other exciting news is that NOWRUZ IS NEXT WEEK (Reminder: Nowruz is Persian New Year. And the first day of spring). My special Nowruz clothes should be ready by Monday. The seamstress ripped me off, but then she made me feel better about it by inviting me to her house for her Nowruz festivities.  I am going to make a mighty fool of myself in the Nowruz show. I have very enthusiastic professors so, somehow, I have agreed to do Dari-language Karaoke and be the Nowruz Princess. If you’re lucky, I’ll have embarrassing photos to share with you all next week.

Here’s part of a  poem by Attar, a 12th century Sufi from Nishapur:

“Don’t be dead or asleep or awake.
Don’t be anything.

What you most want,
what you travel around wishing to find,
lose yourself as lovers lose themselves,
and you’ll be that.”

تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda

That Time When I was in a Central Asian Pain Cream Advertisement

This post was going to be all about International Women’s Day in Tajikistan. Then Sunday got wacky. It started with an innocent decision. We decided to go bowling. There are two bowling alleys in Dushanbe. We decided to go to the cheaper one, because we are college students. I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, so I’ve spent my fair share of time in bowling alleys. But never quite like this.

As we grumbled about the lack of bowling shoes and kinda weird atmosphere, we noticed that next to us were some guys with film cameras. We hoped that we weren’t in their film. But then they approached us. They spoke English. They asked us to be in a commercial. For pain cream. It was called “BolNol” which according to my friend Joey means “Zero Pain” in Russian. And we had to pretend to bowl, and at one point I had to pretend to apply the cream, and we did these shots over and over and over again. It took quite a long time.

But, next time you’re watching TV in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan, watch out for me, bowling badly and cheering and showing off some BolNol! We got some free juice from the bowling alley as payment.

And now, back to Women’s Day…

International Women’s Day is a big deal over here. Its much bigger than National Men’s Day, which was about 2 weeks ago and mostly passed unnoticed (cough *snarky comment about how every day is men’s day* cough).

Anyway, International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March) is an official holiday in Tajikistan- schools, offices, etc. all close. I think there is sort of the feeling that men should do things for women on International Women’s Day. But mostly this is just buying flowers. Because, at least in my host family, no one would ever let a man bake a cake.

Sign outside the National University. It says "8 March: Happy Eid to dear ladies."

I started my Women’s Day celebrations on Wednesday. My friends and I went to an exhibition at the National University. Foolishly, we assumed that because it was advertised as starting at noon, it would start at noon.

Silly us! This is Tajikistan! It started at 1pm, and we had to leave rather quickly to get back to class. We did get to hear a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, and then an old man read a list of the number of women in each faculty at the University. It was fascinating.

All the ladies on the stage, singing the Tajik National Anthem

On actual Women’s Day itself, my host family presented me with gifts over breakfast. I got a Traditional Tajik Hat and a figurine of two doves. And a kiwi! I was pretty psyched about the hat, because I can wear it on Nowruz (Persian New Year), which is coming up.

In the evening, my host family and I went to my host grandmother’s house. We had a lot of cake, because not only was it International Women’s Day, but it was also my host brother’s 10th birthday. Lucky kid! What ten year old boy doesn’t want to share the limelight with International Women’s Day? I got him a Pokemon/ Ben 10 DVD, and I got my host mom flowers.

International Women’s Day got me thinking. No, not about gender inequality (ok, it did, but I don’t feel like blogging about it). About how I now possessed a Traditional Tajik Hat, but no Traditional Tajik Outfit. What to do?! Obviously a trip out to the giant bazaar on the edge of town was in order.

I managed to get a decent price on some material, and this week will take it to a seamstress to have my kurta (dress-like top… much longer and more flowy than its Indian counterpart) and salvar (aka cozy pajama pants) sewn. As we left the bazaar, I convinced my friend Joey that taking a bus back to town was a viable means of transport. 20 cents, 7 kilometers and one hour later, we arrived back in Central Dushanbe, a little worse for wear.

And now, for some Saadi:

One left behind on the road wept, saying “Who in this desert is more distressed than I?”
A pack donkey answered “O, senseless man! How long wilt though bewail the tyranny of fate?”
Go, and give thanks that, though thou ridest not upon a donkey
Thou art not a donkey upon which men ride. 

And on that note,
تا دوشنبه آینده،
Amanda

The third largest aluminum factory in the world!!!!!

So guess what!? I survived February in Tajikistan. I think I should get a t-shirt. The beginning of March and the return of temperate weather means that I haven’t fallen down lately, there’s no need to constantly wear long underwear, and even my giant amusing hats have disappeared from my wardrobe. Here in our little Persian-language-learning world it means we get sit outside and study or nap in the courtyard. It ALSO means that leaving Dushanbe for day trips is becoming sort of possible. We had one this Saturday. We went to… THE THIRD LARGEST ALUMINUM FACTORY IN THE WORLD.

Undergrads/boren scholars/Eurasian Regional Language program repping.

I know. Extreme excitement coming outta this blog lately.

As you may have noticed from my previous posts, Tajikistan has a lot of natural beauty. But apparently (unfortunately), countries can’t survive on natural beauty alone. They need industries, I’ve heard. Hence, big aluminum factory in Western Tajikistan (thanks Soviets!).

Supposedly, this thing takes up somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of all of Tajikistan’s electricity supply. So, when I was freezing my butt off due to electricity outages all winter, I had this place to blame.

The pouring of aluminum

When we got to the factory (which is called TALCO, short for Tajik Aluminum Company), we were greeted by our “minder.” This man didn’t seem to have any particular knowledge of the factory or the small museum that accompanied it, but was really great at reading signs and pointing out the obvious, eg: “These are stones.”

In the museum there were lots of awards and presents from other countries and signs promoting Tajik-Belorussian friendship. The factory itself was much more interesting. First of all, the entire place was magnetized. So, things like coins and keys all stuck together. Evidence below:

o hey, look at these dirhams sticking together. magnetism.

Second, the whole thing looked like something out of a nuclear apocalypse. There was old Soviet propaganda everywhere, everything was grey, and sometimes I swear I saw particles of aluminum just hanging in the air. At the end we asked our minder-person how many on-the-job injuries took place there each year. He shook his head and said “That’s a secret.” We were pretty lucky to be able to get in though: not many foreigners have been, and they often forbid photos.

This sign says something like "Glory to the winged aluminum producers." Or something. Its in Russian so I don't really know.

They did several demonstrations of aluminum pouring for us. We were warned not to wear any baggy clothing, or touch ANYTHING, as this might lead to spontaneous combustion and/or third degree burns. Afterwards, we went to another, much smaller factory in a village somewhere. I am a little unclear on what this factory did. They definitely husked rice, and maybe did something with wheat. They weren’t actually operating, but showed us the rice husking machine and looked confused when I asked how people had husked rice before electricity. I also bought flaxseed oil for my host family there.

Nope, not Osh. Its a giant boiling pot of aluminum.

On a side note, the TALCO plant is a major point of political contention between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (though what isn’t?). If you’re interested, you can read about it here or here.

When I got home from the trip on Saturday, I found that my host family wasn’t home, and I was locked out. This wasn’t a big problem… I walked over to my host grandmother’s house and found them all there. I hadn’t been there since coming back from break, and actually had a really lovely time.

As the sun set, I played soccer with my host cousins in the courtyard. I am not a good soccer player. However, I was also the only person over the age of 9. The kids thought I was pretty good. They said “Amanda, you’re Messi!” “No! You’re Ronaldo!” Kids are the same everywhere. Its reassuring.

One of the interesting things about taking only Persian classes is that at least 3 times a week my professors spontaneously burst into poem. Here is one my professor quoted by Rudaki this week. Its about a time when Ismoil Somoni (aka the Wizard of Dushanbe) went off to Herat and didn’t want to come back to Bukhara. Basically, its flattery. (I actually quoted a different part of this poem once. Its one of Rudaki’s most famous).

Long live Bukhara! Be thou of good cheer!
Joyous towards thee hasteth our Amir!
The moon’s the prince, Bukhara is the sky;
O Sky, the Moon shall light thee by and by!
Bukhara is the Mead, the Cypress he;
Receive at last, O Mead, thy Cypress tree!

تا دوشنبه آینده،
Amanda

At Home in Tajikistan

I’ve been living with my host family for about six months now, and yet I realized I haven’t written much specifically about life here in my big pink house near the Agricultural University. And given that February is still slowly rumbling along, I thought I’d treat all those out there avidly reading this blog to tales from my surrogate home.

One of the odder things about living with a host family in Tajikistan is that even after half a year I’m still officially referred to as “mehmon-e ma” or “our guest.” As in “Don’t take tea before you give some to Amanda, she’s our guest.” Or, “Amanda, don’t you dare consider trying to be useful, you’re our guest!” I’ve mostly gotten used to this by now, but being hollered at for attempting to vacuum is disconcerting.

After spending so much time here, I’m pretty much over the culture shock of being plopped down with a family several thousand miles away from home. But occasionally, there are things that remind me that my host family and I sometimes have different ways of seeing the world. My host family doesn’t talk about politics often, but when they do I’m always surprised. My host dad says “Why are they protesting in Kazakhstan!? Everyone is Kazakhstan is rich!” My host mom says “Of course we like Putin. Because he’s not like Yeltsin. Yeltsin drank too much vodka.” On a non-political note, my host sister says “Amanda, are any of your friends boys!? I saw you walking with some boys!!”

Before coming to Tajikistan, I hadn’t spent large amounts of time with small children, at least not since I was a small child myself. Nine year olds are a special kind of crazy. My host brother constantly wants to teach me Sambo, which is a sort of wrestling/martial arts popular in the former Soviet Union. This is not my favorite activity.

My host family really makes an effort to speak to me only in Tajiki (as opposed to Russian or Uzbek). But my host brother isn’t really old enough to understand how much Russian he mixes in. We spend a lot of time staring at each other, looking confused. I’m confused by the Russian words, he’s confused by the weird foreigner who can’t understand basic sentences. But we’ve bonded recently because he’s taken an increased interest in his Farsi homework (or, “Classical Tajiki Alphabet” homework) and requested my help.

Of all the members of my host family, I guess I’ve told the most stories about my host baby. That’s because she is adorable. Lately, she’s started calling me “Aoity-Boon,” which is her mispronounced way of saying “Aoity-Joon,” and apparently means “dear big sister” in a Tajiki dialect.

My host baby also drinks a concerning amount of tea. She chugs the stuff. Doesn’t matter how hot it is. My host family usually calls her “mymoon” which means “monkey.” When she’s being really naughty, they say “in parazit ast” which means “this one is the pest.” I taught them how to say “monkey” in English, and occasionally they call her that, too.

After all this time here, life at my host family’s house feels pretty normal. There are mornings when I feel grouchy about the fact that I can’t make my own breakfast, or weird about the fact that people ask me where I’m going and when I’m coming home whenever I leave the house. But mostly, I’m pretty glad I got such a great host family.

This year so far would have been pretty hard without the excitement that goes on at my host family’s house. I can’t imagine a dinner without a baby crawling on me, my host siblings competing for my attention for help with English homework or my entire host family breaking out into a giant 3-hour long argument about whether to buy an aquarium. If nothing else, my host family has certainly succeeded in keeping me entertained and engaged throughout this slow cold month.

Here is a quote by Nazami Ganjivi, a 12th century Persian poet from modern-day Azerbaijan.

Seek knowledge, for through knowledge you effect that doors to you be opened and not closed.
He who shames not at learning can draw forth pearls from the water, rubies from the rock.
Whilst he to whom no knowledge is assigned—that person you will find ashamed to learn.
How many, keen of mind, in effort slack, sell pottery from lack of pearls to sell!

تا دوشنبه آینده،
Amanda

Some notes on popular culture, cuisine and 5-D films

First, let me apologize for not writing last week. My official excuse is that I had a lot of homework, but also there was this whole thing where not much was going on. Sometimes that happens when you’ve been in a place for 6 months.

The one piece of exciting news from last week was our trip to the mall. If you have ever met me, you know that I don’t usually spend much time at malls. I usually find them to be evil, soul-sucking places. But this mall has THE ONLY ESCALATOR IN ALL OF TAJIKISTAN. Excitement, no? So we went and rode the escalator. And watched people ride the escalator for a while. When there is only one escalator in an entire country, sometimes people are not so good at riding it.

This weekend is a three day weekend. We have today off for U.S. President’s day. And so we were determined to find interesting things to do. And we did manage to create one bit of excitement- we went to see a 5-D film!

Now, maybe you are thinking “Amanda, you are confused. Movies only come in 3 dimensions.” But not in Tajikistan. In Tajikistan they come in 5! They also only last about 10 minutes. Joey and I saw one about an amusement park. We were on the roller-coaster.

Sitting in the waiting room for the 5-D Movie. Its like a doctor's office, except with 5-D advertisements

When not inventing these outrageous “adventures” we satisfy ourselves with the routine offerings of Dushanbe. Which are actually pretty decent. For example, a new Iranian restaurant opened last semester, and is a great place to spend hours on end. It is also a nice break from Osh. Delicious kabobs, Iranian specialties, tea, and a place where everyone speaks in an Iranian accent.

I also genuinely like my routine at home. In particular, I enjoy the mornings: we usually have oatmeal and chestnuts for breakfast, and watch crazy music videos. I am not an expert on pop culture or fashion: I have been wearing the same pair of Gap jeans for 4 years. When the wear out, I buy the exact same pair again. But I very much enjoy trying to figure out pop culture phenomena. Particularly in Tajikistan, where it is delightfully mixed up.

I’ve mentioned before how Tajikistan is this conglomeration of different cultural influences. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the music videos that my host siblings enjoy. Uzbek videos are very popular in my house, since a.) my host family understands Uzbek and b.) there seem to be much more of them then Tajik music videos, which makes sense since Uzbekistan’s population is 4X larger than Tajikistan’s.

Here is an Uzbek music video I very much enjoy, mostly because of the singer’s awesome dance moves.

On occasion, we watch Iranian music videos. Everyone likes Arash, the Swedish-Iranian megastar, and also this guy who sings a song about how awesome Iran’s soccer team is. There are a few notable Tajiki-language pop stars, the most famous of whom is probably Jonibek. And then there is this guy, a Tajik guest-worker who became famous in Russia for being able to sing both male and female parts of a Bollywood song:

Bollywood music in general is pretty popular: I told my host family that I was going to India for the summer (more on that in a minute), and so yesterday morning we spent a significant period of time watch Shah Rukh Khan clips. My host baby calls him “Shoo Roo!”

Ok so yes, the other exciting news from this week is that I’ll be spending the summer in Lucknow, studying Urdu through a Critical Language Scholarship. (Don’t worry, I’ll continue studying Persian for a long time.) I’ll come home for about a month-ish starting the 10th of May, before heading over there. Sometimes I forget how incredibly awesome my life is, but finding out about this was a nice reminder. Other cool reminder: I’m currently writing an essay on irrigation methods in the Samanid empire… in Persian! Ahh!

Before I leave you with a poem, here is a fun picture of Tajikistan’s president, in honor of President’s in the U.S. day. The text says “Rogun: Koh-e Noor of Tajikistan.” (For those unaware, Koh-e Noor literally means “Mountain of Light” in Persian). Rogun is a dam in Tajikistan that has been under construction since… 1976. It is a major cause of tension with Uzbekistan. It also has very little in common with a giant diamond.

"Rogun: Koh-e Noor-e Tajikistan"

Here’s a quote by Sanai. We’ve been reading in poetry in Dari class lately, and I’ve become fond of him:

“When the path ignites a soul,
there’s no remaining in place.
The foot touches ground,
but not for long.”

تا دوشنبه آینده،
Amanda

Surviving the Tajik Winter: Tales from the (Cold) Front

So apparently its cold everywhere in Eurasia is right now. But Tajikistan wins because the cold is compounded by the frequent electrical outages, and the fact that the city planners of Dushanbe decided to pave entrences to many buildings with a marble-like material. Marble gets really slippery when it snows, guys! Generally, I see about 10 people fall down per day. Sometimes I fall down too.

But apparently February is the hard month. And if we make it through February then everything is flowers and springtime and Nowruz. So this blog post is about how I’m making it through February. Its not that hard, if you’re creative enough…

Don't I look cold?

Step One: Embrace It

Its really cold out. Its going to stay really cold out. Tajikistan is 93% mountains. Obvious answer: Go sledding! On Sunday my friends and I bought inter-tubes from a sports shop, and headed out to the hills (we stopped along the way at our favorite Uighur restaurant). We passed the cemetery that is located on the edge of town, and walked up into the hills. I’ll let the following video speak for me:

Clearly, if I stop shivering for a second and look around, Tajikistan is pretty gorgeous in the winter.  In some spots, the snow was up to my knees! And it felt like if you just kept walking, you just keep reaching more and more mountains, until you were in the Pamirs.

(Note: Yes, the sleds have New York Yankees and Ohio State logos on them. No, I don’t know why.)

Chris and Joey check out the view

Step Two: Find Some Culture

Its pretty easy to stay inside and read or watch TV. But there are actually decent cultural entertainment opportunities around. Saturday night we went to see a documentary at a (very warm) hotel theatre. It was called “The Desert of Forbidden Art.” I high recommend it. It is voiced by Ben Kingsley, so it is not one of those obscure Central Asian things I occasionally recommend. Its about a museum in Karakalpakstan (in Uzbekistan) where anti-Soviet art was protected, especially during Stalin’s era.

I realized I hadn’t been to see a film in a theatre since August.

In general, we’ve been making much more of an effort to go to these sorts of things this semester. Last week we went to a Russian play, and we’re hoping to do something similar next week.

Step Three: Dars, Dars, Dars

Thank goodness classes have started. Classes here are pretty awesome. For my history class, we are reading a 9th/12th century of Bukhara (written in Arabic in the 10th century, updated and translated in the 12th). Its the same one we started reading in my English language history class last semester, except now I have to write compositions about it in Persian. It is very exciting. I told my Farsi professor that I wanted to focus on improving my reading and writing this semester, so I have already had many compositions assigned. I come home, plop down in my living room, and write as much as I can. My last writing assignment was to explain the U.S. electoral system in Persian. It was difficult, mostly because the U.S. electoral system is too complicated in any language.

Dari classes are also pretty exciting. And confusing! Its not that different, but in many cases, I do understand, but it doesn’t sound like something I’ve heard before. Or it sounds like someone got confused and started mixing Farsi and Tajiki together in a blender. Its actually pretty useful for reading my historical text though… I’ve learned words in Dari class that my Farsi teacher has then pointed out as uncommonly used Farsi words in the History of Bukhara text. In general, I’ve found that this semester I have a lot of control over what I study (taking half of my classes alone will do that, I guess), which in turn makes me a lot more motivated to study.

Step Four: When All Else Fails, Put on Long Underwear, Make Some Coffee and Wait It Out

Pretty much what it sounds like. I’m staying as warm as I can, and hoping that spring comes soon. All in all, its not bad… the pipes in my house haven’t frozen, my space-heater works, I’ve got my ghichak to practice, and I’ve downloaded new books for my Nook. Hopefully, I’ll be creative enough to keep coming up with stories for this blog until spring finally makes an appearance!


Getting Ready for Lift-Off

Here’s one of the more vivid Rumi quotes I’ve read:


Last year, I admired wines
This, I’m wandering inside the red world.
Last year, I gazed at the fire.
This, I’m burnt kabob.
تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda

Languages that I do Not Speak

As you know if you’ve ever read this blog before, the primary reason that I’m in Tajikistan is to learn Persian. On that front, I think I’m doing pretty OK! But, there are lots of languages in Tajikistan that I don’t speak… from Russian to the many small Pamiri languages and from Uzbek to Kyrgyz, Tajikistan is really cool because its such a polyglot country! As such, today my blog post is about my interactions with languages besides Persian.

1.) Russian. O, Russian, you and I have spent so mcuh time together, and yet I feel like I don’t know you at all. Russian is pretty omnipresent in Tajikistan, although its not at all difficult to get by speaking only Tajiki.
But, for example, television is typically in Russian. Not always– there are two or three Tajiki-language channels, which are generally pretty strange (but, they also have a “Cash Cab” knockoff, so that’s really freaking exciting). I get the impression that my family doesn’t really enjoy watching the Tajik-language soap opera about the village grannies who fight over sheep, and would much rather watch U.S. horror films dubbed into Russian.

As I may have mentioned before, a lot of people think its weird that I’m not learning Russian. For example, I gave a lecture this past week at the U.S. cultural center here. Afterwards, some local students came up and asked me why on earth I picked Tajikistan as a study abroad locale. “Is it to learn Russian?” “No, its to learn Persian.” “So, you speak Tajiki.” “Yup, a bit.” “But not Russian?” “Right.” Following this exchange, blank stares.

Even my host baby speaks more Russian than I do– she’s not even 2 years old and knows how to say “there’s no electricity” in three different languages (I do too now, she taught me).

All that said, I don’t dislike Russian. Tajikistan is a really cool blend of many different languages and cultures, and it would be very silly to pretend like Russian isn’t one of them. On Saturday, my friend Joey and I went to see a play here, and it was in Russian, and I understood maybe about 25 words the entire time. But that’s ok, I enjoy theatre, even when I can’t understand.

2.) Uzbek. About once a week, my host aunt from the Southwest of Tajikistan calls my host mom and asks “Does that foreigner in your house know Uzbek yet?” And about once a week my host mom has to disappoint her. Uzbek is a pretty cool language though, and I wish I had time to learn it (mostly because its related to Chagatai, but also just because it sounds nice).

My host siblings use Uzbek when they don’t want me to understand- ie: when they’re talking about ganging up on me and throwing tons of snowballs. My host mom switches into it when she’s really angry at my host siblings.

Generally, not speaking Uzbek is much less of a handicap than not speaking Russian, but strangely I’m more drawn to learning it than I am to Russian.

3.) The English that is in My Host Siblings Textbooks:

URGH. This is my pet peeve. My host brother has recently decided to study harder, and this most involves reading his English book with me. The book vacillates between using English that no one since about 1743 has actually used, and simply not using correct English at all. When it manages to make sense, it is generally some form of weird Soviet-era propaganda. Here are some sample sentences:

“I take lessons as Russian and English and Biology and Zoology. The students have lesson circles as Russian circle and Tajiki literature circle.”

“Did you go to the pioneer camp this summer?” “No, I worked on the collective farm.” (Keep in mind that this is a 4th grade text book, printed in 2005).

“Apple is fruit. In autumn, apple comes to trees. In autumn, Tajik people pick cotton.

“Our president says 2005th year is a year for clean water. Our teacher ask us what is water. We are quiet.” (Next to this, there is a giant picture of the president of Tajikistan)

The good news is, instead of just sitting and moaning about it this semester, I’m going to be teaching an intro English class with my friend at a cultural center here!

4.) Any of the Pamiri Languages. We’re working on that though! Hopefully I’ll have good new to report on the Shughni tutoring front soon.

Languages that I do (sorta) speak
And we’re back to Persian! My classes start on Monday, and I am SUPER pumped. Although I’ve kept myself busy, with music lessons and tutoring and cultural trips to plays and giving lectures, 1.5 weeks is a long time not have have structured activity in the middle of the Tajik winter.  I’m taking Farsi, Dari AND Tajki, so next week you’ll probably hear all about my dialect confusion. I’ll be taking my Farsi classes alone, and half of them will be “Literature & History” classes (AKA Amanda and her Professor read old stuff). I’ll have Dari and Tajiki with a friend, and I’m pretty excited to take formal Dari classes for the first time.

And so, having survived my week of holiday in Dushanbe, I’ll leave you with some Omar Khayyam/Fitzgerald (I’m sorry if you’re getting sick of him, but he’s my favorite):

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door as in I went. 

تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda