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.
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.
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،