All things counter, original, spare and strange in Khujand, Tajikistan

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If you’ve come here looking for the continuing adventures of Seth H. Morgan, Gentleman, then you should proceed to: growingglobal.wordpress.com, where I write about my new gig gardening in the rainforest and learning about agricultural development at ECHO in Fort Myers, Florida. If you’d rather watch a monkey fall out of a tree, go here. Thanks for stopping by!

Tajik Music

Long overdue: Here’s what you need to know about Tajik pop music. I listened to this stuff on buses, at weddings, pumping out of shop doors on the way to work, basically everywhere. So eventually I developed a taste for it. Tajik pop music is a mishmash of pop beats and electronified traditional instruments. It’s crazy stuff sometimes but I love it.

Current Tajik pop begins and ends with Shabnami Soraya. She’s the Madonna of Tajikistan, the reigning pop diva. This song is a great party-starter. The chorus means, “everybody clap!”

Karcak-Shabnami Soraya

Next on the list has to be the up-and-comer Nozia Karamatullo. If Shabnam is Madonna, Nozia is Britney Spears, just before she lost the nice girl image. She’s taking the country by storm, while slowly shedding the unibrow-sporting, traditionalist image she started with. This song never fails to make me happy.

 Track 05-Nozia

Daler Nazarov is a Tajik singer-songwriter with more high-art pretensions. He’s kind of the Bob Dylan figure of the Tajik scene, in that everyone pays lip-service to his songwriting, but the kids don’t listen to him anymore. Nevertheless he continues to do cool things. He composed the soundtrack to the excellent film Luna Papa, which was directed by his cousin Bakhtior Xudonazarov. This song is from the album he released in the wake of that film:

Mastam-Daler Nazarov

I’ll finish this Tajik pop overview with one of my personal favorites. This song by Suhrob Otaev is one long love letter to oshi palav, the Tajik national dish. It’s a good example of the over-the-top techno-borrowing that is taken to an extreme in a lot of tracks. But I like this one. The chorus goes, “Everybody knows it! Everybody eats it! This delicious thing, oshi palav!”

OSHI PALAV-Suhrob Otaev

So that’s a taste of Tajik pop. Hope you enjoy it. I know I do.

The Journey Home Part 1

This has been a year full of hard goodbyes. From the time I left Chattanooga, Tennessee to begin this adventure up to now, I have had to say farewell to more people than I ever thought possible. And my goodbyes from Khujand were some of the hardest. So to begin this brief retrospective, here are some images of the lovely people I had to leave behind.

My students at American Corner:

Including these break dancers, who performed at my goodbye party:

Naturally, my host bro Amirjon:

And the rest of the host family. Here is Nasim and Mansura, making osh–another thing I miss:

And my Tajik grandmother, Mukhadas, with the finished product:

I think I can honestly say that I’ve never said goodbye more times than the day before I left Khujand. But that’s the way of it. If it’s not worth missing, then it’s not worth visiting. That’s what I say. So goodbye, my friends! I miss you. But that’s a good thing. It means we meant something to each other.

The travels begin next post.

Amir’s Blog

If you want to see my host bro’s personal introduction to the family and their new bed and breakfast scheme here in Khujand, check out his blog site here: amirnuriddinov.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homestay in Khujand

 

A word to any Tajikistan travelers who might come across this site: my happy homestay is open to you as well. I’ll be leaving this place in 3 weeks. I can’t believe 10 months has gone so fast. But more on that later. Nasimako, Amirjon and the rest of the family are hoping to attract a few people to their place in the future, so here’s a little advertisement:

Here’s the place from the outside. And here’s my room. It has its own shower.

Moreover, we just installed a water cooler! Check out Nasimako lovin’ on some bottled water.

So, theoretical googler of “homestays in Khujand” or however else you may see this, I recommend staying with tne Nuriddinovs. I stayed here for 10 months as a Fulbright Fellow and the family was remarkably hospitable and helpful. So if you’re headed through Khujand, contact Amir (who knows English quite well) at (+992) 92 777-6114. Or e-mail him at amirnuriddinov[at]gmail.com or contact me by commenting on this blog.

Rohi safed! (may your road be white)

 

Update: Lenin’s Fall

 

O how the mighty have fallen. 2 days ago during the night, a crane came and took down Mr. V.I. Lenin from his place of prominence. I tried to get a good picture of his empty pedestal, but a policemen saw me and blew his whistle, waving me away from the scene of history. So this picture from far away is all I got. Here’s to the old fella. May he rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lenin’s Shoes

We’ve known for months that Lenin’s time on the pedestal dominating the city were numbered. Every few weeks I hear a rumor that they are finally going to begin taking him down. But now it seems the process is actually begun. Starting with his feet, apparently. It’s difficult to tell, but it seems that the screen around the great leader’s boots conceals the beginnings of his demolition. Feet first into the future I suppose.

Here Amir gestures to the great communist himself, exhibiting the grandeur of his decay.

And yes, here I am, in all my Obama t-shirt glory, heralding the new age of capitalism. Shortly after this immodest display Amir and I were accosted by an irascible caretaker type who tried to weasel money out of us for “illegally” taking pictures. He threatened to call the police, but we stood firm, knowing it was an empty threat–if the police came they would take the bribe money for themselves. Eventually we pretended to delete the photos and walked off. Paradoxically, after he realized he could wrangle no money from us, he called out, “come back when it’s finished! Rohi safed (white road–a blessing).” It was as if his natural hospitality finally overcame his lust for bribery. Oh Tajikistan. Always an adventure.

Once the park surrounding the statue is remodeled the pedestal will be the new home of a statue of Ismoili Somoni. It’s going to look great actually.  Workmen are already tracing murals  along the stairs approaching the pedestal. But I think I will be in America by the time it finishes. As with any project like this, the finish date is supposed to be Independence Day, September 9.

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