Before anyone gets grossed out, let me clarify: “Barf” means snow in Persian. There is even a brand of washing detergent called “barf.” The Persian-speaking world is delightful, no?
Anyways, I’ve been doing a lot of “barf-bahze” (snow-play) since I’ve been back in Dushanbe, mostly because my host siblings have decided that that’s what their weird foreign house-guest is good for.
That’s right… you read correctly. I’m back in Dushanbe! And glad to be here. I thought I would struggle, missing the comforts of Europe. But really, who needs escalators and well-organized mass transit? I’ve got mashrukas and space-heaters and loads of tea!
Of course, getting back was a bit of an adventure.
First, Paris: Paris was wonderful. Magical. Exactly how it should be. Last time I was in Paris, I saw a great many wonderful things, but as a non-French speaker, felt fairly lost. Thanks to Rocío’s French prowess and awareness of the city, I could enjoy some of its famous magic this time. Its still not a place I could really imagine living– but it was a wonderful visit. It also involved a lot of things I realized nostalgically, I’d be doing for the last time for a few months. Cooking thai food. Touring interactive museums. Drinking wine that’s not from Georgia or Moldova. Staying up late watching cheesy at a friends house. Skim lattes.
And then, the actual trip. Flying into Dushanbe is strange, but I was prepared for it this time. The weirdest bit it that there are no lights on the ground below for quite a while as you descend. Its just empty and dark. I don’t know how the pilot manages to even find Dushanbe. But he does, and as we get really near, I can make out the outlines of the largest streets, and even some of the major landmarks. Also weird– no announcements about connecting flights. Implication: there are no connecting flights. Welcome to the end of the road.
The Dushanbe airport is unpleasent. You get off the plane (its 4 am and FREEZING), and then a bus takes you to the “arrivals terminal”… everyone rushes the single door of what is essentially a small pavilion. And then you have to fill out a registration card… you write as fast as you can, because the more quickly you write, the more quickly you can get on line.
But no matter how fast you write, there is always the chance that the passport control fellow will decide to go have a tea just before your turn, and disappear for about 10 minutes. And even though there are tons of other passport control fellows walking about, none of them will take his place. Once he comes back, its not too bad… a young foreign woman speaking Tajiki at 4am can be confusing… and after glancing at your passport he waves you along… to the endless wait for luggage.
Its endless because you know that outside there is a driver waiting for you, and that of course, your flight was late, but if you go outside to let him know that you’ve arrived, you won’t be allowed back in. Also, because there is typically about a 50/50 chance your luggage ended up in Australia, or maybe Brazil, or maybe Mongolia.
Fortunately, my small bag made it to Tajikistan, and I made it back to my host family’s house, and to the routine that I found I was craving: warm tea while watching Russian cartoons, my gym, walking to school to make coffee, playing with my host baby (who, in my absence, increased both her vocabulary and her variety of dance moves), evenings spent reading and studying.
And speaking Persian. I didn’t realize how dang much I missed speaking Persian. When I got here, it just all spilled out, and still, all I want to do is talk. I thrust concerns about grammar and dialect to the side, and just let all the words tumble out of my mouth.
I’ve actually been surprisingly busy, given that classes don’t start until next Monday, and the vast majority of my classmates aren’t back yet. I’ve been organizing to volunteer for an English class next semester, meeting with my speaking partner, practicing the ghichak, getting coffee and lunch with friends who are around, working on some school work I’ve put off, spending extra time at the gym, and learning to play computer games from my host brother.
I’m happy to be back. And I’m happy I’ve got another 4 months here. Not only did I not realize how well I knew Dushanbe until I got back, I also didn’t realize how much I liked it here. Even though I know about the difficult things to expect from this semester (cough- electricity, I’m looking at you- cough), I’m weirdly really excited. I have a feeling its going to be awesome.
Here is a verse by Jami, a 15th century Sufi poet:
The eyes, like dew, should receive the seal of a dab of tears.
Non-existence has an image and a world of its own.
Realities are sometimes created in the footprints of passerby.
No one could help rid me of my dual self.
تا دوشنبه آینده،