Friday, April 15, 2011

BBQ in the 'Stan


I'm sorry I haven't updated in the past two weeks - but nothing terribly exciting has happened here in Dushanbe. The biggest development thus far has been an issue with my laptop's battery - my six year old sister spilled choi (tea) on my laptop, and while my computer work(ed) just fine, the battery won't charge. Fortunately my computer is under warranty (thank you, Aunt Monique!) but I'll have to wait until I get back to the States to have my computer fixed - this means my first stop after landing in D.C. will indeed be the nearest  Apple Store.

So until then I'm using a laptop that the American Councils has kindly let me borrow. Not having my personal laptop is frustrating, especially because I use a special flash card program to study Persian vocabulary. On the plus side, I've learned all sorts of words relating to computer repair.

We haven't had power at night for the past few weeks - and there are several theories circulating on the matter:
1.) There has been less rain this spring, and the reservoirs are empty and dams are unable to produce power.
2.) Tajikistan preemptively sold electricity to Afghanistan in January, not expecting lower rainfall and empty reservoirs in the spring.
3.) There is plenty of electricity, but Tajikistan is just selling it all to Afghanistan.
4.) The Uzbek government has been complaining that Tajikistan is sabotaging the Uzbek cotton crop but limiting the water flow to Uzbekistan. Tajikistan is citing electricity shortages as proof that as much water is reaching Uzbekistan as possible.


Besides the usual electricity shortages, life has been fairly mundane. On Sunday I'm making BBQ for my host family. I have been unable to find any cuts of meat resembling brisket or ribs here, so I purchased a slab of mystery meat that a Tajik gentleman assured me was beef. My host family's oven doesn't have any temperature settings besides '1', '2' or '3' so I'm going to scrounge up some foil, set the oven on '1' and hope for the best.

The weather here has been getting pleasantly warm - and I've gotta admit, my spirits have improved now that I'm not freezing. I'll update next week with something more interesting!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Child Rearing

Well it's time for my weekly update from Dushanbe. I haven't done anything terribly thrilling this week, as I've had midterm exams for the past 5 days. Considering I'm the only person in all of my classes, midterms were relatively relaxed. For example, for my Persian Literature class I read a short book about the History and Evolution of Persian Dictionaries (exciting, I know) and then gave a presentation to my teacher on the book. Not terribly exciting, but better than last semester's midterm paper. 

A few days ago I had the opportunity to go to the "Athletic University," where, from what I gathered, Tajiks study Sports Science. Most of the structures over there are is a state of disrepair, as the University was originally built by the Soviets (surprise surprise). Gabby was able to show us her gymnastics skills, and I was able to snap some photos of the gyms. It was a very interesting tour, as the most popular sports for youth in Tajikistan are Judo, Wrestling, and Soccer. 

Living with my host family is, as usual, awesome. Of course there are always awkward moments - especially when my siblings are disciplined. Fairuz and Shorukh often get into arguments about computer usage. They have a system worked out where each sibling gets a certain amount of time on the computer per day, but normally this devolves into typical familial arguments, including the wrestling that tend to occur between brothers. This week Shorukh managed to kick Fairuz in the nose (a pure accident). Fairuz wound up with a bruised nose, and I got to witness Muhabbat beat Shorukh (and Fairuz) with her purse and one of her slippers, while calling him  "animal" and "black." Honestly, it was pretty hilarious. The the atmosphere returned to normalcy about 10 minutes later, but Tajik methods of child rearing never cease to entertain me. For example, it's very common for young girls (around ages 0-5) to have very short hair, similar to mine. Tajiks believe that keeping their daughter's hair short in their developing years will lead to thicker, longer hair later on in life. One of many interesting traditions that I've grown to appreciate during my time here. 

A few days ago Muhabbat made Mantu (similar to dumplings) the other day, definitely one of the tastier dishes from Tajik cuisine. I don't think I'll ever understand Tajik butchering practices - for example, there's no uniform method of preparing chicken. They just take the whole bird and hack away away at it, bones and all. 

The most exciting event in recent memory was the arrival of my care package - my lovely family in the States sent over some much needed Smoked Chipotle Tabasco Sauce, BBQ Rub, and Peanut Butter.  As of now I'm very pleased with the progress I've made in my Persian studies, and will continue to keep you all updated on happenings in Dushanbe.