So I know I said I would write up a post about Marriage and Love in Tajik Culture, but I just got back from an American Councils-sponsored trip to the Aluminum Factory, so I figured I'd seize the opportunity to discuss Tajikistan's main export.
Most income in Tajikistan comes from aluminum exports - the percentage the tour guide thew around was about 60%. The ore they refine at the Talco Aluminum Factory doesn't actually come from Tajikistan, and the factory itself was built by the Soviets in the 1970s, and hasn't been updated since.
The actual factory is pretty cool - molted metal being poured everywhere, furnaces melting down ore and whatnot. I certainly got a sense of what "heavy industry" looks like in the developing world. Because the Talco factory uses outdated equipment, they aren't able to make large amount of aluminum, but our Tajik guide claims that Tajik aluminum is of a very high quality. The plant operates 24/7, and is located about an hour and a half outside of Dushanbe.
After touring the Talco plant we stopped by a "Rice Factory" - basically where the husk of Tajik rice is removed before consumption. Unlike the Talco factory, which was massive, the rice factory was in a small garage-type structure. The factory's "machinery" consisted of a wooden beam that pounded the rice via a motor. Definitely cool to see the difference between Talco, a Soviet-built factory, and local Tajik styles of production.