A Goodbye Taj Post

So, I’m about to leave Tajikistan. And I was thinking about all these lists about goods and bads and lessons learned that I’d share with this blog. But, at the end of the day, I think on both sides, it comes down to my life in Tajikistan being surprising, and sometimes pretty weird.

In the span of the last three days I’ve given a research presentation to the Persian Department at the Tajik National University, gone on a final Osh picnic to Varzob, and caught the flu, necessitating a visit to the doctor for the first time since I’ve arrived here. Nearly made it!

Final Group Osh. Looks pretty much the same as they all do.

I’ve tried to keep this blog pretty upbeat all year, but truthfully there were a lot of aspects of studying in Tajikistan that were incredibly difficult and frustrating. Looking back, I absolutely wouldn’t trade the study abroad experience here for all the coasts in Costa Rica, all the romance in Rome, or all the mummies in Egypt, but there are some things I might try to forget, because who wants unpleasant memories?:

Nights spent shivering myself to sleep in the dead of winter.
The sinking feeling of coming home and realizing there was still no electricity.
The loneliness of realizing that the majority of my peer group here was married with a few kids.
Car sickness. So much car sickness. Stop building tall flagpoles and pave some roads, Taj!
Waking up every single day before 6am, because if I went running any later I’d be stared at, followed, shouted at, etc.
Literally living out of a suitcase for 9 months, because my room had no cupboards/closet
Going to bed every night around 10pm, because there just wasn’t anything else to do.
All the oil in Tajik food. Cotton oil, flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, just lots of oil.
Corruption.
Outhouses. Specifically mountain outhouses.

But there are also memories I’ll cherish, things I’ll genuinely miss and hope to see again someday.

If I could remember Tajikistan any way it would be like this:

(finally asked my host family permission to share that!)

Or like this:

Chris, Joey and me, on the Panj River near the Wakhan corridor, in the Pamirs. Behind us are wild batrian camels.

Or maybe like this:

As a US American, I will never cease to be amazed by still-standing structures that are more than 500 years old.

There is a part of me that is also extremely grateful towards Tajikistan. Most languages, you get a pick of your location, dialect, etc. when you decided to study abroad. As a US citizen studying Persian abroad long-term, that’s not really the case. For better or worse, we come to Tajikistan, and even though sometimes the Tajiki-Farsi dichotomy is frustrating, I dread the day when studying here isn’t an option.

I came here a wide-eyed Perso-phile, and I’m leaving as someone who can communicate effectively in Persian (most of the time). So it was worth it. Honestly, I don’t pick up languages easily. And I think the one-on-one/two-on-one classes that I’ve had all year have probably been the reason I’ve come along as far as I have. I’ll deeply miss my professors and my classes.

In case you thought THAT was sentimental, let me turn now to my host family. I’m pretty sure there have been times when my host family thought I was a complete nutter. And there have definitely been times when I thought they were totally bonkers. There have been more cross-cultural miscommunications than I can count. And yet, when I leave, I will miss my host family most. I decided early on that host family bonding was one of my priorities, and thanks to the fact that my host family was genuinely interested in spending time with me, it remained one.

When I was in Khujand last week, my host family called me, just to tell me that they missed me, and that the baby was crying and pointing to my shoes and asking “where’s Amanda.”

I love that when I come home a million people greet me (some of who I’m always supposedly related to but have never met before). I’ve even grown fond of my host brother bursting into my room and demanding that I go with him to buy a shepherd dog (this happens about twice a day). I’ll miss how, even though they think its nuts, they always make sure my Osh is meat-free. I’ll miss my host mom describing the millions of cakes she can make, and my host baby attempting to pray and falling over, and taking my little host cousins for walks around the block (one toddler on my shoulders, two toddlers holding my hands).

I’ll miss it all.

So that’s that.  Three more days in Tajikistan, three weeks in the U.S., and then summer in India. Although I’ll miss Tajikistan, I’m really looking forward to the immediate future. One last poem, an extract from Attar’s Conference of the Birds (Fitzgerald Translation):

For like a child sent with a fluttering Light
To feel his way along a gusty Night
Man walks the World: again and yet again
The Lamp shall be by Fits of Passion slain:
But shall not he who sent him from the Door
Relight the Lamp once more, and yet once more?

خدا حافظ,
Amanda

One Last Tajik Hurrah: Khujand Trip

First, a story:
On Sunday, Chris and I were in Istaravshan. We asked an old man if he knew how to get to the 15th century mosque and madressa. He lacked teeth, but more than made up for that in character. He offered to take us to the mosque, and along the way a large group of pre-teen boys joined our little party. When we got to the mosque we met the care-taker, who informed us that some ruffians had stolen her key. Which happened to be the only key to this 15th century Timurid mosque. She suggested we hop in through a window.

With my new friend, the toothless impromptu guide of Istaravshan

So that’s what we did- Chris, the old man, the group of pre-teen Tajik boys, and me. And then we climbed up the disintegrating stones steps of a spiral staircase- which clearly hadn’t been touched since the year 1500- to the minaret, where we all huddled on a tiny perch over looking some 500+ year old graves.

And I thought: Holy crap, I never want to leave Tajikistan!
I quickly came to my senses- I’m quite excited to go home in less than two weeks!- but it was a nice reminder about why I picked the Taj as a study abroad locale.

A view from the outside of the 15th century Timurid mosque

Getting there:
In the spirit of adventure and cheapness, we decided to drive to Khijand, instead of flying (we flew back to save time). A driver who also took us to the Pamirs offered to drive us. We shared his car with an under-18 boys wrestling team, and their gruff coach. In the middle seat sat four wrestlers, and Chris and I shared the back of the jeep with another wrestler.

We drove together for 8 hours, over an unpaved mountain pass that had been mostly washed away with the heavy rains this year and through the “Tunnel of Death,” where we got stuck behind a construction crew doing “pavement” work. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride I’ve ever taken, but then it definitely wasn’t the most uncomfortable, either (that was an overnight bus between Dharamsala and Delhi in 2009). The wrestling team wasn’t great at sarcasm. Chris and I convinced them that we ate hamburgers for every meal in the US, and that since pavement didn’t even exist in the US, the unpaved roads didn’t bother us. Everything they’d ever seen in movies was lies!

Where we stayed:
We stayed at the Hotel Leninabad in Khujand (Leninabad is the Soviet name for Khujand). It is the type of place where a lost old man will wander over to your room at 9pm and ask your TV works. When you say yes (a bit of an overstatement, it gets 4 very fuzzy Russian channels), he asks if he can take it. And waddles back down the hallway, television in hand. It will probably not win any awards for comfort. It may win awards for best Soviet throwback, though.

Khujand Bazaar

What we saw (in Khujand):
On Saturday Chris and I split up for a bit to go exploring independently. I musuemed for a while, and then walked across the Syr Darya to go find THE BIGGEST LENIN STATUE IN CENTRAL ASIA. I couldn’t remember how to say “statue” so I just asked strangers to show me where “Big Lenin” was. It worked. I met a young government worker (who swore he wasn’t corrupt), who offered to show it to me.

Khujand was embarrassed about the giant 22meter Lenin in the middle of their city nearly 20 years after independence, so last year they moved it to a field slightly set back from the town. The tallest Lenin in Central Asia shared the field with a hungry cow and a couple of stay dogs.

Biggest Lenin in Central Asia + a cow in a field.

After he showed me Lenin, my not-corrupt friend and I had this conversation:
Him: “You should visit my family’s house now. My parents will slaughter a goat and make Osh”
Me: “Where does your family live?”
Him: “In Penjikent.” (That’s 6 hours away, assuming the road is good).
Me: “When would we go?!”
Him: “Now.”
After that, I took my leave and went back to meet Chris.

What we saw (in Istaravshan):
Well, you’ve already heard about our mosque/madressa adventures. The other great thing about Istaravshan was its bazaar. Outside there were lots of live chickens. Inside, there were lot of old yogurt makers who let us sample their fresh yogurt (delicious!). The smells of a million kabobs. We went to the bazaar in Khujand too, and that was also wonderful. In fact, it is apparently among the best and largest bazaars in Central Asia, and was situated in a picturesque central city square. But I preferred the bazaar in Istarvashan. We ate a wonderful lunch of Tabaka (chicken grilled on a spit), in the middle of the bazaar.

I asked if I needed to cover my hair while visiting the 15th century mosque. Our new friends said no, but then decided it would be hilarious if I wore the old man's hat.

Later, we sat on a tiny bridge over the small, fast flowing river in the middle of town, and watched the afternoon and some goats stroll by. Chris also played soccer with a bunch of kids in the middle of the old town. Many of the kids insisted that I take about a thousand photographs.

Chris on the soccer pitch

Coming Home:
Quick flight on Somoni Air. Comfortable half hour spent on a 737. No teenage wrestling team. Back to Dushanbe in time to relax with my host family on Sunday evening.

Here are some verses by Nima Yooshij, a relatively modern Persian poet from the early 20th century:

I stand opposite the sun
I cast my gaze upon the sea.
And the entire world is desolated and ravaged by the wind
And the ever-playing piper progresses onto his path
In this cloudy world.

تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda

A trip to Kulob: The Land of 1,000 Emomalis

On Saturday we were lucky enough to take a trip to Kulob, the third largest city in Tajikistan and the birthplace of everyone’s favorite Tajik president, Emomali Rahmon. Actually, we learned, he wasn’t born in Kulob but in a village nearby, which we drove through on our way to Kulob proper.

He looks so young in this photo! Awe.

Kulob is a decent distance away from Dushanbe. About three and a half hours. But the trip was punctuated by interesting scenery, and odd stops. We stopped at a beautiful reservoir to eat rhubarb. There was basically an entire market in the middle of the Tajik “highway” just devoted to rhubarb. This is a great country. Also, rhubarb is delicious!

Near Kulob, we stopped at an old fort. Now, generally I really like old forts. But I hadn’t had any coffee, and we left Dushanbe at 6am. So I was grouchy and mostly stomped around the fort, which has clearly been rebuilt within the last 5 years. I managed to take nice photographs though.

Putting on a brave face, despite being uncaffeinated.

After a lunch that involved a cup of coffee, I was feeling much happier and genuinely enjoyed visiting the mausoleum of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani, which was in Kulob town. He seemed like an interesting fellow: He was born in Hamadan in Iran, and traveled all the way to Kashmir, where he spread Islam and Sufi thought. On one of his travels between Kashmir and Hamadan, he died hear Kulob. Hence, mausoleum.

The park around the mausoleum was certainly among the most pleasant places in Kulob, if not Tajikistan. It also featured the young Rahmon picture from above. Because, you know, what goes better with 14th century Sufis than 21st century post-Soviet personality cults?!

Mausoleum

Afterwards, it was time to head back to Dushanbe. The other excitement of the day was stopping to find animals as we drove along the road. We stopped in the morning and found turtles. In the afternoon we found a snake. Actually, a legless lizard. Not poisonous.

With the legless lizard

Next weekend, we’re going to Khujand. The second largest city in Tajikistan, and supposedly also one of the most pleasant places here. Chris and I went to buy plane tickets on Friday. In a reminder that Tajikistan is pretty much the definition of cash-based economy, you can’t even buy flight tickets with a credit card here. We will drive there, because the idea of Tajik mountain roads after a tough winter is just so exciting. And then we’ll fly back to save time.

Here’s a poem by Manuchehri, an 11th century court poet:

Get up and bring fur clothes as Autumn is here
A cold wind is blowing from the Khawrazm yonder
Look at that vine leaf hanging on the vine bough
It looks like the shirt of dyers
The farmer is biting his finger with wonder
As in the lawn or garden is left no more rose or lavender

تا دوشنبه آینده،

Amanda

Long Walks and Depressing Zoos

Have you ever had a nightmare in which animals escape from the zoo, and are upset about their maltreatment and charge around the zoo in a mad frenzy?

In Dushanbe, this happens. Sort of. On Saturday, we went to the zoo. My friends had already been, and warned me against it, but I was insistent. It is The Most Depressing Place on Earth. Only in Dushanbe would the “reptile house” consist of a bunch of cages filled with dead snakes. Only in Dushanbe would a house cat qualify as a zoo animal. Only in Dushanbe would it be appropriate to keep two bears in a tiny enclosure about half the size of my bedroom. The whole place is filled with the howls of forlorn animals. I’ve never felt particularly strongly about zoos, but the Dushanbe zoo Should Not Be Allowed to Exist.

I like camels, even when they're in depressing zoos

And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, we saw one poor ram, desperately trying to get out of his enclosure. “It looks like it might escape,” I said. And then it escaped. It mostly looked confused about its newfound freedom, and I’m sure they sent someone to put it back in the cage and duct-tape up the hole soon enough, but we didn’t stick around to find out.

Escaping Ram! Watch out before it rams you.

Alright, enough with this depression. Sometimes bad things happen to good rams. Lets move on.

On Sunday, I wanted to walk. I like to walk long distances. I particularly like to walk between cities or towns. So I decided to walk to Varzob, the village where we often go for hiking or relaxation by the river. Spoiler alert: I didn’t make it all the way there. After walking for about 2.5 hrs. my friend passed me in a mashruka (share van), and I decided it was time to hurry up and get somewhere, so I caught a ride the rest of the way.

But I wasn’t particularly concerned about making it the whole way. It was just wonderful to get out of the city, and see some villages. I rode the bus out to the edge of the city, where it turns back into the collection of small villages it really is at heart. Dushanbe, for those who didn’t know, was founded in 1924. Before then, “Dushanbe” was a village of about 215 people. Where the city sits now was a collection of 10 or so small villages.

I’m very sunburnt now. I explained the concept of a “farmer’s tan” to my host mom, and she told me that I had a “farmer’s red.”

The other bit of excitement this week was teaching English at the National Library. The National Library was supposed to open in September. But it didn’t. It opened last month. Which, given that this is Tajikistan, is actually pretty much on time. The English class that Joey and I teach through the U.S. cultural center was moved there.

The weird thing about the Tajik National Library is that I didn’t see any books there. I’m told they do possess books. In fact, I know they do, since every school child in Tajikistan was required to donate 5 books to the library (this policy is exactly as terrible as it sounds). But I’m going to have to go back and search for said books. The Tajik National Library also has an escalator (the second in Tajikistan as far as I’m aware) but its not yet in operation.

Here’s a conversation I had in a share taxi the other day:

Driver “What’s your name?”
Me: “Amanda.” (Usually I Tajik-ify my name to Umida, but I forgot this time).
Driver: “Commander?”
Me: “Erm, yea sure, Commander.
Driver: “Did you know that Commander is Russian for ‘Farmandah?'” (That’s Tajiki for Commander).
Me: “Really?! That’s so strange! Alright, let me out here.”
Driver: “Goodbye, Commander.”

Here’s a quote from Shams Tabrizi, a Sufi teacher of Rumi

Joy is like pure clear water;
wherever it flows, wondrous blossoms grow
Sorrow is like a black flood;
wherever it flows it wilts the blossoms.

تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda

Qoratogh Dreaming

Thank you, spring time, for reminding me that I often genuinely like living in Tajikistan!

In addition to everything simply being more pleasant, we took a trip out to this beautiful place:

O wait, sorry. Wrong photo.

That's more like it!

Anyways, the day trip got us out of Dushanbe for a bit, and we were able to see everything the Qoratogh valley regional tourism board recommended! Huzzah!

Aqueducts were built into the side of this mountain.

So then, what does the Qoratogh regional tourism board recommend? There’s this one aquaduct/tunnel, that was supposedly built in the 10th century (or the 9th. Or maybe the 11th. Our guide wasn’t super sure), and is called the “Tunnel of Shirin and Farhad.” Shirin and Farhad is a famous love story from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. Think Romeo and Juliet, but more Persian. No one knew why the tunnel was called that.

Joey and I in the tunnel/aquaduct. It was cramped.

After the aquaduct of Shirin and Farhad, we headed to the mausoleums of some guys who were supposedly decedents of the Prophet Muhammad. There was not any particularly clear information on what they actually did, but one of them had a father who was from Kashgar, in Western China. So that’s exciting. The real excitement was the view.

Hoorah for pretty places!

Afterwards, we were told that the village want to give us tea at their Nowruzgah (literally, place of Nowruz). “Tea” turned out to be a full meal involving a delicious mint soup and some fantastic raisins. The Nowruzgah was next to the river, and we relaxed next to the water for nearly an hour before moving on to our final stop, the home of the famous Tajik poet Mirzo Tursunzoda.

Tursunzoda was a Soviet era poet, probably the most famous Soviet era Tajik poet. He is considered a Hero of the Nation. There is a poster in my classroom that explains this. His museum was pretty neat. It featured some old Soviet stuff (coins, pictures of Stalin, etc), some old pre-Soviet Central Asian things (coins, pictures of camels, etc.), and lots of paintings and photos of him. Tursunzoda is on the One Somoni bill. One somoni is worth about 20 cents.

Depictions of different times of Tursunzoda's life

In other news, I have just about a month left here in Taj. That means that after 9 months, I’ll finally get a hair cut! I don’t know why I’ve developed an aversion to Tajik haircuts. It also means that in the coming weeks, you should expect a combination of excitement and nostalgia from this blog.

In preparation for the end of the year, I’ve been hard at work on my term paper, which is an examination of the role of the city of Bukhara in the revival of Persian language and culture in the 9th and 10th centuries. I don’t think anyone really wants me to go into much detail here, but its pretty awesome.I hit the 1,500 word mark earlier this week, which is way more invigorating in Persian than in English.

Here is a poem by Sheikh Ahmad-e Jami, a 11th-12th century Sufi.

Don’t be like axe and don’t offend anyone
Don’t be useless like a plane
Just be like a saw in your life
Do something for yourself and something for others 

تا دوشنبه آینده،
Amanda

Nowruz Mubarak!

This week was Nowruz. Really quick, for those who don’t know- Nowruz is the Persian New Year. It marks the beginning of spring and the first day of the Iranian Calender. Its a lot of fun, and if you’ve never celebrated it, I recommend a trip to the former Persian Empire(s) next March 21st. Or just any major city where there are diaspora communities. That works too.

Obligatory picture of Chris, Joey and me, the three undergraduates studying abroad in Tajikistan right now.

Nowruz week started out with a snow storm on Monday. A really giant snow storm. And then there was no electricity. And classes got cancelled because the heavy snow was knocking over trees, which were in turn crushing cars and things. It kinda stunk.

But, not to worry!! That was on Monday and Tuesday. The last days of the old year. The new year is bright and sunny. Its year 1391 by the way.

Year 1391 has been pretty beautiful so far. And exciting too! On Thursday we had a Nowruz party. I mentioned last week that my professors were over-enthusastic about this party, and so I ended up performing. A lot. I was the “Malika Nowruz” which means “Nowruz Princess.” We performed a skit in which I had to welcome Nowruz and congratulate everyone on having made it to spring. Also, I had to hold some greens. I wasn’t allowed to wear my own Kurta. I had to wear a bright yellow Kurta that sort of made me resemble a duck.

Me, as the "Malika Nowruz" arriving at the party with some greens.

Now, maybe you think “Amanda, that sounds super awkward!” O, just wait! After that, I had to give a speech in Persian describing the “Haft Sin and Haft Shin.” Those are the traditional symbols of spring set out on a table at Nowruz. The Haft Sin is in all Persian speaking countries, the Half Shin is mostly in Tajikistan. I could tell you more, but I’m sick of talking about them. A little later, Joey and I greatly embarrassed ourselves by singing a Dari song about Spring. We didn’t actually know the words very well, and mostly just stood there, swaying a little bit. I’m sure it was great fun to watch.

Doesn't even begin to capture the awkwardness...

The rest of the party, when I wasn’t performing, was pretty chill. It was catered by an Iranian restaurant, and so we had “Sabzi Polo ba Mahi,” which is rice and greens with grilled fish. Deliciousness. Some neighborhood women gathered in the courtyard to make Sumanak (Sumalak in Tajiki), which is a traditional New Year’s wheat paste.

I stirred the Sumanak/Sumalak for a few minutes. It takes a full day to make. So I didn't stir the whole time.

Other excitement included a tug-of-war and some arm wrestling contests. The party was hosted together with Tajik students who had returned from study abroad in the U.S. in the past couple of years. Most of our professors attended, as did a number of foreigners from the Dushanbe community.

Joey and me with our Dari professor.

By 7:30 or so, most of the professors and foreigners left, and it was just us Persian language students and the returned Tajik study abroad students. The music changed pretty abruptly from traditional Central Asian fare to Kanye West and Jay-Z and Co. I’m pretty sure I saw someone Dougie. After such a traditional celebration, it was little strange to slip into U.S. pop culture. Especially because behind us, the neighborhood women were continuing the stir the sumanak, and small Tajik children were stranding on the roof, staring at us. Still, I suppose it was a nice reminder of home. Also, an unfortunate reminder of the fact that, no matter what culture I’m in, I still can’t dance.

One more awkward Nowruz skit picture

The other exciting bit of news is that Karzai, Ahmadinejad and Zardari are all in town to celebrate Nowruz. My host baby thinks Zardari looks like Baba (Grandfather) and I think I caught Rahmon (Tajikistan’s president) falling asleep during Karzai’s speech on TV. Also, the influx of foreign dignitaries means the main street has been reserved for their cars all week, and I kept getting frisked by the police as I tried to walk to a cafe on Sunday morning.

In honor of the fact that books of Hafez’s poetry are often found on Haft Sin tables, here is a verse by Hafez:

“Though the wine is joyous, and the wind, flowers sorts
Harp music and scent of wine, the officer reports.
If you face an adversary and a jug of wine
Choose the wine because, fate cheats and extorts.”

تا دوشنبه آینده
Amanda

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