Well, it's time for another update from glamorous Dushanbe. I know talking about the weather *seems* boring, but when the weather dictates your quality of life, it becomes an interesting and pressing topic of conversation.
The Russians built most of the infrastructure in Tajikistan - and, until Tajikistan's independence, Russian engineers and professionals maintained all of the infrastructure here. The current president/dictator and his puppet government, unlike the Russians, have done nothing to keep basic utilities in Tajikistan.
The water never shuts off for too long in Dushanbe, mostly because Dushanbe is where the "president" lives. Sometimes the water is white/cloudy, or brown. Apparently after the civil war the international community donated $30 million to build a modern water treatment system… someone in Tajikistan absconded with the entire $30 million.
So during the winter power normally shuts off at least once a day. Most homes here don't have central heating, so we rely on space heaters for heat. No power = no space heater. It gets very cold very quickly. Obviously my host family is lucky - we never lose power for longer than 4 hours. In the countryside people normally have about 4 hours of power per day - it's pretty common for impoverished Tajikis to freeze to death during the winter. Yep, the weather is that important.
Roads and sidewalks (the few that exist) are riddled with potholes/puddles/trenches and the like - which makes running pretty interesting. Below I've included a picture of some sort of drainage/ditch thing. The city streets are lined with them. Sometimes there are bridges over them. Sometimes there aren't, which means I run very very carefully.
My next post will discuss marriage and relationships in Tajiki culture - and the difference between the older and younger generation's concepts of love.