Vignettes

Afghanets is a Tajik weather phenomenon where strong, gusty winds blow from the south and bring hot, dry, and dusty air from Afghanistan.  It limits the field of vision and it almost looks like fog, or worse, like smog, until you see the fine layer of dust on everything from cars to the soles of your kids' feet.  The sky becomes an eery white, or grey, or brown.  It doesn't stop until it either rains which is not an option in summer, or the wind turns.  It's really bad for the crops. 

  Dust in the air - ignore the image quality - snapped from the car at a red light. In the distance, you can barely make out the world's second largest flagpole.

Dust in the air - ignore the image quality - snapped from the car at a red light. In the distance, you can barely make out the world's second largest flagpole.

Tajik houses are built around courtyards with high walls.  I imagine they keep the winds off, and they create shady, private spaces.  Most courtyards have trees growing in them, often persimmons and apricots, but I've also seen banana leaves and colorful flowers peek over the walls.  Many houses have grape arbors which shade the entire courtyard.

  Beautiful flowers everywhere.

Beautiful flowers everywhere.

The vast majority of women dress in mid-calf dresses with coordinating long pants.  The fabrics are often bright and colorful, with fancy designs.  Some women wear matching headscarves.  In groups, they look like cheerful butterflies. Leah asked me if she could start wearing Tajik dresses, like the little girls on the street.  We will have to peruse the market.

  Colorful!

Colorful!

I cannot find canned tomatoes, and nobody seems to know what I even mean.  We use a lot of canned tomatoes, and I don't have enough jars to make sauce for the entire winter.  We need to cook differently in the future.

Boys will be boys.  Actually, Tajik boys seem a pretty unruly bunch. They are loud and boisterous and ostentatious. Girls are quiet and meek. Oh, and modestly dressed. Leah was very taken aback when the neighbor boys laughed about her short pants. She did not understand what this was about. I'm still debating whether I want to educate those boys, or simply save my kid some grief.  In any case, my feminist heart broke a little for my sweet daughter.

I've watched the school-aged neighbor girls walk their brothers to school and then return home.  I don't know whether that is a common thing.  I will have to investigate it.

As a woman, standing next to your man, you are invisible.  It's quite unnerving at times.

Our TV has a few channels for free, among them BBC, Euronews, Russia Today, Ukraine Today, and German ZDF.  So now I get my news from Germany in the afternoon, with my coffee.  A few days ago, the host said, "And if you don't know where to go for your next vacation, let me suggest an out-of-the-way country, Tajikistan!"  The following report showed the work of the local GIZ chapter (German Development Agency) in the area of tourism but I can't find corroborating information on their website.  Mr Pöschel was definitely driving a GIZ vehicle with red diplomatic license plates, though.  Dushanbe is small, I'm sure we'll run into him at some point. As soon as the report is up on the website, I'll post a link on Facebook and Twitter.

We went to the local amusement park yesterday.  We took part in a surprise party for a friend, then we hung out for another hour and tried various rides. To our surprise, the kids were banned from the Haunted House and the Pirate Swing, because of body size.  They were... disappointed. We told them we'll try again next year.  The park is surprisingly well maintained and clean.  In the dusk, with all the glittering lights on, and the fountains spouting colored water jets, it was very beautiful.