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

Last Day in Dushanbe (I hope)!

Here’s to hoping that this is my last day in Dushanbe. Not that I haven’t liked this place. I’ve definitely enjoyed my time here. I’ve learned some Tajik (hozir hele kam gap mezanam [I speak a little now]), I’ve become acquainted with the English Access program, the Embassy’s classes for deserving underprivileged students, I’ve met some wonderful local people, hung out with my fellow fulbrighters, eaten a lot of osh, and bought a lot of wonderful fresh fruit at the bazaars (pomegranates, pears, watermelons, melons-we-don’t-have-in-the-states, persimmons, did I say pomegranates?!). It’s been great. But it’s time to move on.

To Khorog. I thought I would be going straight to Khujand, but I’ve been given the opportunity to help with the intake of students to a new English Access program in Khorog, out East in the Pamir mountains. This is the part of the country I am most excited about visiting. It is the wildest, most inaccessible part of Tajikistan, where the population is majority Ismaili–a form of Shia Islam–and a handful of local languages are spoken, including Shugni and, in certain valleys, ancient Sogdian. There is also a significant Kyrgiz population, through whom it is possible to arrange a stay in a yurt. Yes, a yurt.

Of course, travel to the Pamirs is a bit unreliable. Usually we would go over land, but due to instability in the region that has been ruled out. So, tomorrow we will arrive at the airport and pray that the weather is perfectly clear, both here and on the other side of the pass in Khorog. If it is, we will take a flight. If it is not, we will have to wait. Maybe until tomorrow, or maybe until Friday when a helicopter may be available.

So we will see. If I manage to go, I will have a story and pictures to share once I finally settle in up in Khujand. If I don’t, well, that will probably be a story in itself. So here’s to hoping!

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