Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This photo is of one of the presidential palaces. Like Iraq under the old Saddam days, the president has several palaces and dachas. They are a huge waste of money at the expense of a poor people but with corruption, all things can be done.
This city is very interesting in many ways. The streets are wide and the city was planned with an eye to green space and walk ways. Nothing has been done in forever in terms of maintainance and last night as we walked to dinner in the dark night, we had to look for missing man hole covers and holes in the roadways. Today, I had a meeting with a distributor in a building that had wrecked furniture, water stained walls, no heat and metal chairs. Within about 20 minutes I was numb...our translator stood up after about a half hour because the metal chair literally was causing pain in his rear end.

The buildings are pretty much all old Soviet era construction but there are some huge McMansions which are incredible. In SW Florida there are plenty of mulit-million dollar homes but they typically are tasteful. These are extravagant, decorative and clearly an expression, in your face, of huge money. Most say, a result of corruption.

Many here have gold teeth and when I asked about this, I was told this is a sign of affluence and pride. These cost more than porcelain and you can show your worth and your family's worth by the number of gold teeth you have.

Today, we ate at a Uighur restaurant. This group is a Chinese Muslim people which is being eradicated by the Chinese government and there is a fairly large number of these folks who have moved here to escape oppression. I am learning that oppression has many faces and is relative.
We interviewed an incredibly interesting man today. Shafir owns his own NGO dedicated to studying democracy and he had a very comprehensive understanding of the media and its role in creating democracy in a country with serious language issues. I mentioned before that there is no Tajik dictionary. He said, there is NO common Tajik language and because it is such an old language, it has no newer technical words to express or explain the 20th or 21st century. So, people and the press use language from other countries with no explanation and the rural citizens and many educated people just have no clue what is being talked about. And because there is no real written Tajik grammar written or taught, journalists can and do make up grammar, definitions and structure in such a way that the common man/woman cannot understand.
And when we came out of a meeting, there were several boys playing together and I asked Nigina, our Embassy contact, if today was a holiday and no school? She indicated that kids just don't go. The schools are so bad, why attend?
Drew took me to an inside "mall" while we were waiting for our driver and I think I will go back on Saturday with Nigina. Lots of Tajik workmanship and needlework. Lots of Chinese crapola also.
More later...hungry.

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