so…I need to write a short article on studying abroad in Tajikistan for a newsletter. I knew that if I didn’t get myself a deadline, I would just procrastinate, so I sent my adviser an email saying that I would email it in by sometime tomorrow…but even with the deadline, I have no idea what to say
where do I even begin? food? health superstitions? classes? idekkkk
Day 56 (Sunday): In the morning, my group went to visit the Ismaili Center in Dushanbe. Truthfully, it reminded me of mega-churches in Texas and California.
So…I also feel bad about this because I thought that I was allowed to take pictures of the inside of the center…but partway through the tour that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the inside of the center. Anyways, now I have a few pictures of the inside of the center that they didn’t really notice me take.
It was quite fun to go look around the Ismaili Center.
Day 57 (Monday): Classes. Last week!
Day 58 (Tuesday): I went to Korovon with Katie and Sarah and bought a corta for my mom and my sister. Then we went to Tsum and Sarah and other Katie bought Soviet posters.
Day 59 (Wednesday): Classes. No homework these days because we have finals this Friday. Tomorrow I’ll be going to Korovon again with Jessica b/c she hasn’t gone yet XD
Until next time, khodahafez!
Days 53 (Thursday): Class was as usual. In Tajik class, we got a Tajik tongue twister:
шаш шаршара дар дара
дар дара шаш шаршара
And if you would like to read it in Farsi, it would read this:
شش شرشرا در درا
در درا شش شرشرا
And if you would like it transliterated, it is:
shash sharshara dar dara
dar dara shash sharshara
AND FINALLY, it basically means this:
Six waterfalls go into the river
Into the river six waterfalls fall
…well, more or less. It’s a pretty hard tongue twister because Tajiks say their R’s by kind of rolling them.
Afterwards, I went on a trek with 5 other people to find a second Uighur restaurant because the first one that I tried moved/went out of business/we don’t entirely know what happened to it.
Getting to the second restaurant involved taking a bus to Sad Barg (REALLY far south Rudaki) then taking a marschrutka about 10 minutes west to the restaurant. It was definitely worth it because the food was delicious. We sat on a topchan and enjoyed the breeze that was blowing that day.
Day 54 (Friday): My classmates managed to convince my teacher to talk about the conflict going on in Khorog during mass media class, and it was interesting to hear his point of view on the entire situation. He then went on and randomly decided to give us a few Persian proverbs. Here are a few:
تا توانی در جنگ نکوب
Until capable, don’t knock on war’s door.
جنگ دو سر دارد
War has two heads
ترس برادر مرگ است
Fear is the brother of Death
چاهکن همیشه در ته جاه است
Well-diggers are always at the bottom of the well
(Along the lines of “Digging yourself into a hole”)
قطره قطره دریا شود
Drop by Drop makes a sea
Day 55 (Saturday): Today we went to Dushanbe’s local beer and vodka factory. It was an interesting experience because…it wasn’t what I expected.
Here area few pictures, I’m sorry that I couldn’t get more…I was a bit nervous taking pictures (even though they said it was ok to take pictures).
This is the Head of the day shift who took us through the ethyl alcohol distillation process. They make ethyl alcohol, then they mix it with water to make vodka.
This machine pumps the alcohol up onto the second story of the building to cool, and then is collected in container.
Where the alcohol is collected. The head of shift put some on his hands to let us smell the alcohol XP
And even more machinery.
After the ethyl alcohol area, the head of the factory took us through the beer section.
This room was the coolest (literally XD) and most memorable.
If you look at the white looking pipe that goes across the ceiling in the picture, that is actually a pipe of really cold saline water that is SO COLD that the condensation on the pipe has frozen into ice. That is how cold it was in the room. Anyways, this is the room where the workers prepare the yeast, then add it to the barley water to turn into beer.
But yea…this room definitely looks like it can be a set of a horror movie XD
We then wen into another freezing room where the beer is stored after the dead yeast is filtered out. They gave us three mugs of beer to try…but I don’t like beer so, I let the guys go at it XD
Here is the machinery that filters out the dead yeast.
Steven, Ali, and Hunter posing in the beer factory. Yup…
Tomorrow, we will be going to the Ismali Center to look at the building. Hopefully there won’t be awkward Pamir-conflict moments!
Until next time, khodahafez!
FINALLY UPDATING AFTER A LONG WEEKEND
Day 48 (Saturday): We started off the morning by going to the local Zurkhaneh to watch a demonstration.
Now, according to wikipedia:
The Zurkhaneh is a traditional gymnasium of Iran and adjacent lands where the Iranian national sport Varzesh-e Pahlevani or Varzesh-e Bastani. In contrast to gymnastics practiced in the West, the exercises consist of team sports that combine tests of physical strength and flexibility, specific rituals, and respect for traditional moral and ethical rules. The game of Pahlevan changes to keep pace with the sound of a drum played by the morshed or guide, who is typically seated in an elevated position within the hall.
It was interesting to see boys/men of different ages do these exercises with various pieces of equipment.
Then after the demonstrated, they gave us a chance to go down and try to equipment or wrestle.
Afterwards we went to a local Persian and Tajik bookstore. I got a book of poetry in Persian and a book of sayings and their origins in Tajik.
After THAT, I went with Jessica and Quinton to Qarm! I’m not entirely sure how the name of the town is spelled, but it’s either Qarm or Garm. Either way, it was nice. It was a 3 hour taxi drive through gorgeous mountains and valleys. As I’ve said before, if anyone is a hiker or enjoys nature like mountains, they should go to Central Asia. I really wish my camera took better pictures of everything XP
Qarm itself isn’t that impressive. It’s a tiny town, and it’s by this river. We got there at around 6pm, so we had dinner then chilled at the guest house that we ended up at.
Day 49 (Sunday): The guest house owner took us to see the local mosque and talked to us about the Red River that the town was built by.
Here is a picture of all the prayer times
All of the wooden ornate parts of the mosque were hand-carved. It’s pretty incredible.
Afterwards, we decided to try to go down to the river to walk in it. It’s called the Red River because of the clay that’s in the water. Although the water was super cloudy, it was still gorgeous to me.
After a few hours of walking around in the water and mud, we went back into town and got lunch. Then at 3pm we drove back to Dushanbe. It wasn’t a super eventful weekend, but it was nice!
Day 50 (Monday): Classes. I felt bad for my friends who went to Chelchourcheshma. It’s a town down south where there are springs, and it’s supposedly REALLY pretty. Anyways, they got sick…and I felt bad for them. The main eventful thing that happened that day was I went to the Georgian restaurant with other classmates and we had delicious food :D I had this chicken in peanut sauce, and it was weird b/c it was cold. Besides that, there was kachipourri (bread/puff pastry baked with cheese) for everyone.
Day 51 (Tuesday): I pretty much spent all yesterday doing work at the office. I got crab Lay’s chips (which are surprisingly addictive…I have no idea what I’m going to do back in the States if I ever crave them) and a drinkable yogurt and spent a good 5 hours doing work.
Day 52 (Wednesday): Class was really fun today. Both of the teachers were in really good moods. We’re starting to prepare for our finals…and I’m definitely not looking forward to them. But hey, it’s life. Now I’m going to try to get some more work done before I need to leave to go home!
Until next time, khodahafez!
This past weekend was really fun. Seriously, for anyone who wants to study abroad outside of the usual “Europe” area, Central Asia is incredible. Seriously, if anyone is the type to go hiking or enjoys nature, GO TO ANY CENTRAL ASIAN COUNTRY.
We went to Iskanderkul this past weekend, and it was an incredible experience. We drove for a good 2 hours, and the road was rough and rocky.
This is a picture of one of the drivers. On our way, we went through the Iranian Tunnel…I will upload a video b/c it’s pretty crazy. I took a video upon entering and exiting, but I couldn’t take pictures b/c it’s so dark. It’s a 5km tunnel that has huge potholes, water everywhere, not a lot of air circulation, and barely any light. It felt like we were on a roller coaster ride (Indiana Jones comes to mind) and having our car splash into huge puddles of water didn’t help XD
After we came out of the tunnel, we stopped to take a short break and take pictures of the beautiful mountains.
Jessica took this picture of me sitting on the edge…I’m sorry if this picture freaks you out, but I really wasn’t sitting too far on the edge.
When we arrived to our campsite, we had lunch on a topchan or kat over this gorgeous lake, then we left to go for a hike to a waterfall and Snake Lake. Here are some pictures of the hike:
The guy in the very front of this picture was our guide. His name is Salom (which was really fun whenever our Resident Director shouted his name to get his attention…we all thought he was yelling “hello” XD).
This is a picture of a river (that connects to the lake we were camped by) that was on the way to the waterfall. We found a “flying fox” as one of the student likes to call it, and Kramer tried to go across the river on it…but failed b/c the crank was kind of broken. He ended up pulling his way back from halfway across the river.
Then after about 20 more minutes of hiking, we came to the waterfall! It was awesome because there was a platform that goes over the waterfall…but it was also terrifying because the platform was basically held up by a pile of rocks.
Here’s a better picture of the platform. The pile of rocks that my friends are sitting on are basically the only counterweight to the platform.
After the waterfall, we hiked another 30 minutes to a nearby lake called Snake Lake. There were no snakes in the lake, but it was probably one of the clearest lakes I’ve ever seen.
The best part about this lake was we got to jump into it! We were on this huge rock about 8-9 feet up from the surface of the water, and we jumped from the rock into the water. I was the first to jump in because everyone was a bit nervous to jump in. The water was so cold that it felt like my entire body went numb.
Afterwards we hiked back, had dinner, and I learned how to play durak with a few other people. It’s a Russian or Tajik card game (I’m not entirely sure which) that took FOREVER to learn. I lost a good 5 times before I understood what I was doing XD But yea, one time I ended up with pretty much the entire deck in my hand, so I finally understood how the game worked. We also made a fire, and later walked a bit down the road from the campsite and looked at the stars. I wish I had a camera that could take a picture of the stars XP The sky was beautiful. It reminded me of when I used to live in Carson City, and my siblings and I would lay on sleeping bags on the backyard lawn just staring at the sky for hours during the summer.
The next day we went hiking again, but this time we went into the Saratogh valley and went for a second hike…which was drastically harder.
This is the first point we stopped…I was dying XD I’m not used to climbing mountains. Anyways, we stopped at a point where there was a small arch of snow, so when air flowed through it was freezing. It felt like air conditioning in Texas!
Then we hiked up a REALLY STEEP part of a hill and we could pretty much see the entire valley. It was wonderful because no matter which way you looked, the view was wonderful.
Afterwards we hiked down the mountain (and now my knees are so sore from doing so XP) and went to this spring where glacier water bubbles up from below the ground. It was so cool because the water would come up from under the sand, so it looked like the sand was boiling.
After the hike, we went to a local village where Tajiks basically live without running water or electricity. We went into one of the houses and were served bread and maast which is one of the forms of yogurt that Tajiks eat.
This is a picture of the oven in the house.
Here are some of the village kids.
After spending some time in the village, we went back to the campsite, ate lunch, then went back to Dushanbe. It was a really fun time and I absolutely loved Iskanderkul.
One last picture of Iskanderkul before I move on…
Day 43: I had class, ate lunch, and “worked”…which was basically writing half of this entry b/c this is such a long entry XD
Day 44: Today was actually eventful! :D I went to Prospekt Clinic to pay for my check up fees, then I went to Tsum with Jessica b/c she felt like going shopping…and we found the booth with Soviet memorabilia…and Jessica went crazy.
I…need to do work so, I’ll upload pictures of Jessica tomorrow XD
Until next time, khodahafez!
So some recent happenings: we ended up not going to Qarm because it was a bit too expensive.
BACK TO WHAT HAPPENED SATURDAY
We went to TALCO (Tajikistan Aluminum Company) where we basically went into an aluminum factory. If you were wondering, yes, there were giant cauldrons of molten aluminum. We saw them pour it twice, and then transport it by crane into the machines with molds.
At the right in the foreground, you can see a cauldron where they poured the aluminum into. In the background, there were just rows and rows of these structures, and I guess it’s where they melted/purified the aluminum.
They had these GIANT cranes that moved along the ceiling, and they would carry containers of molten aluminum to be poured into the cauldrons.
We were even allowed to climb up the steps and look INTO the cauldrons!
So yea…I got a picture of molten aluminum! :D
We then went into a second room where the aluminum was poured into machines that molded it into different shapes.
These are stacks of aluminum bars that were still warm to the touch…some further down were hot enough to feel heat a good foot away.
This machine produced large blocks on aluminum that look like this:
This was at the far end of the second room. We stopped to take a few pictures in front of the train where they loaded the aluminum to be sent to the Netherlands.
Here is the train.
Afterwards we went to a nearby village to tour a home museum…but it turned out that the tour guide who was supposed to take us was drunk at a wedding. Then we were supposed to go to the top of a mountain where there were these mausoleums…but there had been a brush fire of some sort around the area, so we couldn’t go. We ended up just stopping by an old aqueduct, and we were even allowed to go up the steps and crawl through it. Afterwards we had lunch and then returned to Dushanbe.
Sunday: I mainly spent my time working at the American Councils office because I felt a bit behind this past week. Most of my host family has also gone to Uzbekistan for a week, so it’s just my host mother, her 5 year old son, her 3 month daughter, and me in the house. Because her son has been bored for awhile, he started playing with me more. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s been amusing.
Monday: Today is our “4th of July holiday” because Jake (our Resident director) thought it would be better if we had a 3 day weekend instead of a random rest day during the week. So I had a nice late breakfast and watched a bit of Russian TV. I even played babysitter for a bit when my host mother had to take her daughter to the doctor to get a shot. I just sat and read while Basi-jun played with his cousin.
Until next time, khodahafez!
Yesterday was…quite eventful. At 3-4am, I woke up with a horrible stomach ache. After throwing up, I felt better and hoped to be ok by the time I went to class…unfortunately, it wasn’t really so. I ended up caving during Tajik class and went to the doctor. I didn’t have a fever or anything, so she said it just seemed food related and gave me pills. I feel much better now, but I don’t feel like eating any greasy foods at all…which is hard in Tajikistan XD
Before I went to the doctor, my Tajik teacher came in and proclaimed that we should go to the Botanical gardens for class. At that point, I thought that I was getting better and that I would be able to finish the day. I was ok for the first…40 minutes. Anyways, I got some amazing pictures of the gardens.
This is the main entrance to the Botanical gardens
My Tajik teacher showing two of my classmates a model traditional Tajik house.
There were these HUGE pagodas that were beautifully engraved. Supposedly during celebrations, people sit at them while there’s dancing in the courtyard at the center of them.
This is a picture of me in my other corta…right before I gave up trying to convince my stomach that I was ok.
Plans: Tomorrow, we’re supposed to go visit an aluminum factory and a valley. Then on Sunday, Jessica wants to go to a town/village that’s about 3 hours away called Qan. It’s pretty provincial, but some of the pictures look gorgeous. Hopefully I’ll get lots of good pictures!
Until next time, khodahafez!
I…have been a very bad blogger because I haven’t updated in like…3 days XP But I have some very valid reasons
Day 26: Friday. Twas uneventful. Jessica joined my class because her class was getting too hard for her. Then Friday night we just spent time wandering around and stopping by random cafes to sit and drink juice. Nighttime is really nice in Dushanbe because it’s when it cools off and families bring their children out for walks.
Day 27: Saturday. In the morning, I went to the Museum of Ethnography and the Museum of Antiquities with Steven, Ali, and Sohrob. Everyone else didn’t want to go or got sick and couldn’t go. The first museum was interesting because it showed all sorts of clothing and objects that people used all over Tajikistan. Unfortunately, the lighting in the museum was horrible, and I couldn’t use my flash. Thus, horrible pictures in both museums.
These are stamps that were used to create patterns on material.
These are amulets that children wore to ward away the evil eye.
Different hats that are worn in Tajikistan.
Musical Instruments…and Sohrob.
Then in the Museum of Antiquities…it was ok. The first room we went into was literally a room full of rocks. I think the best part of the museum was the GIGANTIC sleeping Buddha. It is supposedly the biggest indoor lying/sleeping Buddha in the world? I’m not sure, but it’s pretty big.
Like I said before…bad lighting+no flash = crappy pictures + sad Caroline.
After the two museums, Steven, Ali, Sohrob, and I went to a nearby Georgian cafe and tried the food there. I got cauliflower and cheese. Then after that, we met with almost everyone else and we went to a Museum of Musical Instruments where the musicians there gave us a small concert. I have videos, but uploading them will take FOREVER here so…I’ll upload them when I get back to the States.
The concert was fantastic. I bought a dvd for my family to watch :D
Day 28: Sunday. At noon, I went with my host family to a celebration of some sort at a restaurant. When I asked what it was for, I…didn’t entirely understand, but I think it was for a circumcision? Anyways, a little boy and little girl dressed up and were the center of attention, and for awhile I was wondering if it was a betrothal. There was lots of food and drinks, lots of dancing, and lots of speeches. It was a fun first celebration experience to have in Tajikistan. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures because I was a bit nervous to take pictures.
Day 29: Monday. Today. I had classes, then I went to lunch at the Korean place. Most of the food was pretty good except for Jessica’s noodles. They made it some sort of Tajik variation, so it tasted strongly of dill and was weirdly sweet. Now, I’m going to attempt to get some work done.
Until next time, khodahafez!
Hey, so one thing about living in a country in Central Asia, people never really drink cold drinks because they associate it to sickness or STRONGLY believe that it will make you sick.
Thus, I’ve been drinking green tea pretty much all the time…and I really enjoy it now. So just so my roommates know next semester…I’ll probably have a tea pot and I’ll probably drink tea all the time. Even if it’s REALLY HOT outside. I feel like I can’t go a day without drinking at least 3 cups of tea.
After class today, I went with some friends to a craft and fashion festival by the Choykhonai Rohat. There were so many different things to see, it was really interesting to see all the different clothes and knick-knacks that were available.
I bought a few little things for my friends (shhh guys…I’m not telling you what I got) and Quinton bought one of the setars for his friend.
I might go back tomorrow to get some thing else for my family. There were these pomeri (spelling?) socks that looked AWESOME. I am incredibly tempted to buy a pair, but I know that I will never wear them…because they’re basically oversized knitted socks, and Texas is way to hot for them.
Until next time, khodahafez
Yesterday we went to Fort Hissar which is about an hour outside of Dushanbe. It was a nice ride. When we went to Varzob to go to Guli Maida, we went north, and this time we went South-east to go to the Fort. We passed by fields and had a gorgeous view of the mountains. I would have taken pictures…but my camera doesn’t take good scenary/landscape shots. Anyways, it was nice. There were brief moments where it felt like I was driving between Carson City and Minden for a swim meet because of the fields and the snow-topped mountains.
When we got to Fort Hissar, we went with a tour guide up a huge hill. It was a gorgeous view from the top and you could see for miles around.
After looking around a bit, we noticed that there was a camel on the other hill! So, after a few more minutes of pictures, we decided to go investigate.
It turns out that they people who take care of the property bought the camel for tourists! They’re also thinking about buying a female camel and then they can have a little camel family.
After exploring the Fort area, we went to the school which was across the street. We got another little tour where we went into the school’s tiny rooms that had various artifacts inside. I felt bad because I didn’t really understand the tour guide, but it was still a pretty interesting tour.
The picture above is a set of pictures illustrating different dress for weddings.
Yesterday was nice. Today, we’re going to The National Museums of Antiquities and Ethnography. In the museum is the largest indoor lying Buddha. I’m looking forward to it.
It’s been interesting though. Dushanbe isn’t drastically different or overwhelming culturally or aesthetically. However, everything is still slightly off…which reminds you that you’re not in the US but in a Central Asian country that used to be part of the Soviet Union! Anyways, Dushanbe isn’t a place where people fall in love with the city…but it’s definitely a city that grows on you and almost becomes endearing.
Until next time, khodahafez!
The past few days haven’t been really exciting…thus not many posts have been written XD It’s mainly been classes in the morning where I sit there and the teachers talk and I catch about every other word, then there’s some sort of lunch/snack, then I usually work on school work until 6:15ish when I walk home, eat dinner, relax/sometimes do more school work, then I go to bed between 8-10 depending on how tired I am. My days are pretty simple. It’s also getting pretty hot, so it’s annoying to walk around XP
Today Kramer, Katie, Emily, and I went to one of the neighborhoods of Dushanbe (called micro-rian 102) to eat qurutob. Qurutob is basically fried firuz (thin layered bread) that is soaked in dissolved yogurt balls, and has vegetables. Ours had tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and peppers.
It was interesting because before we left, there was a short discussion between qurutob and another similar food called shakarob. Shakarob supposedly has more vegetables and uses a different type of yogurt…but I have no idea.
After eating the qurutob, we walked for a bit down Ismaili street and got ice cream/popsicles. Perfect for a hot day.
Yea…I took a lot of pictures because the last few days have been a bit boring, so…you guys get EVERYTHING :D Even all the boring details ;D
On a random note on Central Asia: I feel kind of bad here because I kind of came without knowing ANYTHING about Central Asia, and most of the students here are studying it or are planning on working in Central Asia. Thus they know all sorts of things about Central Asia and go into these intense discussions. It’s fun to listen to them talk about different aspects, and I’m super tempted to learn more about Central Asia, but the idea of learning Russian and attempting to learn the other Turkic languages is kind of intimidating.
Another thing that happened today was I presented the story of Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp. I ended up translating a condensed version into Persian, and it ended up being 3 pages long XP Hopefully I get an awesome grade for effort? :D
Other pictures from today:
I have no idea what this building is called, but it’s supposedly for concerts or shows or something?
This is the Ismaili Cultural Center. We’re supposed to go there someday. I have no idea what’s inside XD
We took a marshrutka back the area where the American Councils office is, and it was the first time I rode a marshrutka…and it was eventful. I really wish I had a way to take pictures/videos with my glasses or with a contact or sorts because there are so many situations that would have amazing pictures/videos, but the situation is really bad to take my camera out :( It’s quite sad indeed.
Well, I’m going to go do more homework now…one assignment involving the Tehran Times which my teacher swears is in Persian, but we haven’t been able to find a Persian edition yet XD
Until next time, khodahafez!
P.S. There’s this intense discussion about different foods in Tajikistan happening right next to me XD Every time they say a word I know, my ears perk up XD