First 20 Hours

Today was my first 20 hours in Dushanbe, and a considerable amount has happened. Firstly, a few classmates and I arrived at the airport at 4am, but I was surprised to see that the streets were bustling with activity. And lucky for me, my host family’s house was especially bustling with activity, as one of the members got married tonight!

But before that, I took a nap before I regrouped with the other American Council members. We walked all around Dushanbe, going over the basic roads and landmarks, as well as methods of travel. I remember Tolstoy and Rudaki Street. We will see how long that lasts. I also got a cheap phone and SIM card for my time in Tajikistan. If I talk for more than 21 minutes on my brand new, baby blue Nokia this summer, then it was worth the money.

My initial reactions to the streets of Dushanbe was a bit off-focus. I noticed how the sidewalks are made from tiles, not concrete, and different sidewalks have different designs on the tiles. This makes for an interesting variety of decorated walking paths, especially as litter is uncommon, a sharp contrast to the unevenly-paved and dirty streets of New York City.

Of course, Dushanbe is also impressive in its vastness and bustling atmosphere. There is never a smooth car ride in Dushanbe, a prediction based on the erratic and aggressive driving habits I observed. But then again, you can usually get to your desired location really quickly, which is a huge win over the sluggish Port Authority busing system of Pittsburgh,

When I arrived at my host family’s house, my host mother came out to greet me the Tajik way, a kiss on each cheek then another round of a kiss on each cheek. The courtyard is so beautiful. I haven’t had a chance to ask about the plants in the garden, so I am wondering if the family is growing vegetables or fruits. My room is one of the central rooms, with a window looking into the living room. It didn’t take me long to unpack, as I had to fit two months of my life into one luggage suitcase and a backpack.

The sisters of the family have all been extremely welcoming and warm, especially considering that I was intruding on the day of one of their weddings. The aroos, or the bride, was pretty busy and I was only able to speak with her briefly, but the youngest sister was very happy to answer all my questions and guide me through the process of preparation. I find that the easiest way to learn new words is to point at something and say “Esm-eh cheest?” which means, “What is the name of that?”

By: Amanda Chan

Program: Eurasian Regional Language Program

Term: Summer 2015

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