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


The square block brownstone houses on my way to work with their consistently overgrown gardens walk a fine line between stolidly impressive and merely drab.

Many of the buildings in Dundee were once huge textile mills, block long gray buildings with smokestacks like London in “Oliver!”  Now they are subdivided at the street level into garishly colored little shops, selling anything from computer repair to used furniture.  At most intersections there is a “corner shop” which is the Scottish equivalent of a convenience store.   There’s really no industry in Dundee to speak of anymore.  “Margaret Thatcher made sure of that,” Monika said one day, referring to Thatcher’s trade policies in the 8o’s.

Malls are the same here, as are the people who hang about in them: over made-up middle schoolers, desperately expending energy to be noticed, retirees pacing slowly past the shops for exercise, intense middle-aged security guards solemnly telling off middle schoolers for middling infractions.  Boring.

I’ve begun to change how I place stresses on words.  It makes my sentences flow differently when I talk.  It’s nearly impossible to explain in writing, but the other day, I asked, “is there going to be a concert in here?”  When I saw a band setting up in the community center adjoined to Signpost’s offices.  In America I would have said, “is there going to be a concert in HERE?”  But now I say, “Is there going to be a CONcert in here?”  It gives my speech a more tentative soft-spoken sound, less emphatic.

Another thing I’ve learned:

Dundee is the sunniest city in Scotland.  Which isn’t saying much.


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