Finding Heritage in Tajikistan

A few summers ago, my sisters and I were in San Diego with my parents visiting a park. On the way, we saw a shop selling kites. My parents wanted to buy one to fly together but my sisters and I were apprehensive – we had never flown a kite. What if we spent a … Continue reading Finding Heritage in Tajikistan

The Living Tajiki Language (Tajiki vs. Farsi)

As one of the few ERLP students in Tajikistan studying Tajiki, I consider myself fortunate to be able to live life through my target language every day.  Like most other participants on the program, I came to Tajikistan with a background in Farsi, the Iranian dialect of the Persian language, but not in Tajiki.  While … Continue reading The Living Tajiki Language (Tajiki vs. Farsi)

Which Way Forward?

Tajikistan, a landlocked Central Asian country of 8 million people, receives few mentions in Western media outlets. Yet a cursory tour of the country makes it clear that it has become a battleground for outside powers. Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and the US have all spent millions on development projects in Tajikistan, visibly reshaping … Continue reading Which Way Forward?

The Gratitude of Giving in Tajikistan

On the night of my departure from Tajikistan back to the United States for winter break I skeptically double-checked my packing list, puzzled why my large duffel bag had absolutely no room to spare. As I tallied the contents cramped in my bag, mostly pairs of clothes and Tajikistani gifts I had bought for my … Continue reading The Gratitude of Giving in Tajikistan

Getting Hitched – The Tajik Way

Yesterday I attended my first Tajik wedding or tooi (тӯй). In Farsi, the word aroosi (عروسی) means wedding and aroos (عروس) means bride. In this case, the aroos was a 17-year-old girl from the small town of Tursunzoda, located about 30 km outside of Dushanbe. Tursunzoda reminded me of a lot of rural towns in … Continue reading Getting Hitched – The Tajik Way

Déjà Vu in Dushanbe

I was hit with an acute case of déjà vu as I disembarked from the plane at 4:30 am in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. This feeling was not without due cause, for 14 months earlier I had arrived in the very same spot when I first came to Tajikistan to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Critical … Continue reading Déjà Vu in Dushanbe

When East Meets West: Culinary Style

Sambusa, or whatever variation of the name a particular country has, is a national dish found in most places throughout South and Central Asia. Americans are probably most familiar with the Indian version, called samosa, which usually consists of peas and other vegetables stuffed into a shell, which is then deep fried and served with … Continue reading When East Meets West: Culinary Style

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I had done academic research on Tajikistan during my master’s program, so even before arriving I had known about the persistence of folk beliefs—fear of the evil eye, fortune-telling, witchcraft, and taboos like never washing men’s clothing on a Saturday—in much of the country. These were practices that atheist Soviets would call pre-modern religious superstitions, … Continue reading Something Wicked This Way Comes