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

Journal Entry

Here’s my journal entry from Saturday, when I went for a walk and a smoke now that I have pipe tobacco:

This city on the shore of the Tay where the river begins to open itself to the North Sea is a place of fitful air and momentous clouds, fitful air throwing the smoke from my pipe back in my face, then swirling it away, and fitful children too, unruly neds (Non-Educated Delinquents) uncomfortable with their own stance of rebellion, talking too loud as misformed adolescents do. This city is unsure of itself. Its poorest neighborhood, called Hilltown, is at its highest point-its best point of defense-and the poorest people in its poorest neighborhood are perched in half-abandoned high-rises that form the most prominent part of the city’s sky-line. They can survey the entire city, and the city always has them right above its head. It was from one of these high-rises that Mike’s brother-in-law threw himself in despair.

The high-rises will be torn down soon, making the problems less visible, perhaps more manageable, but where does the city go from there? I’m just an outsider, smoking tobacco on a monument to working class housing and I’m a little bit sick and dizzy now from smoking too fast and too deeply, so I can’t say. If there’s an answer it’s in the fresh breeze that always comes in from the water.


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