Sunday, 13 November 2011

A fond farewell...............................

So folks it a fond farewell to Tajikistan and Khujand……..

Something’s I am going to have to adjust to not doing in Dublin!!

Saying/doing the following daily:

Ashalom (with hand over heart) – Hello
Spasibo/Rathmat - thank’s in Russian/Tajik
Nah – Dah – Yes/No in a very exaggerated way (it’s how the locals do it!!)
Myla – ok
Chand/Skol’ko – how much in Tajik/Russian

What I won’t really miss!!

Ah the bane of my life here. We were warned in advance about dodgy sockets. So…………..

Had one in my bedroom making odd noises and there were sparks when I unplugged anything.  Now admittedly I’m no electrician but was concerned enough to send an email that I was worried the damn flat would go on fire.

So the landlord arrives doesn’t turn of the mains and proceeds to well not sure exactly what he was doing. But am positive it contravened all the ‘how to be a safe electrician’ guides.  But fair play to him he fixed it.

The electricity goes frequently in our flat and luckily I have Jeff or the neighbours to well fix it. But this one night on my own as I was settling down to watch a flick it goes. No Jeff or neighbours.

So I opened the panel and in the space of a few seconds the following thoughts raced through my mind;

1). Dear God please do not let me die of an electric shock on my own in K.
2) Will my insurance cover this – sneaky bastards with their small print.
3) I really really want to watch my flick!!

So it was with immense intrepedation I turned some knob and the electricity was back on!!

For a country that supplies vast amounts of water to Central Asia they aren’t great at managing their water supplies internally. The local water is lethal for foreigners. A friend had told me it was tested and surprise surprise it is very contaminated and full of parasites.

But it’s in the food as well. I have avoided been very sick but have managed to be ill on a few occasions due to:

Water Melon – absorbs a lot of water when growing
Potato – ate the skin one night and both us were sick the next day
Eating Salad
Drinking compot – a local drink made from berries.

Want I won’t miss is:

·       Not been able to use water from taps for basic cooking.
·       Remembering to brush my teeth in filtered water.
·       My poor hair and skin are ruined from the damn water
·       Washing my clothes in funny looking water

The result of this is that I will be leaving a lot of my clothes behind!!

Oh dear I could write a book about the toilets here. But suffice to say I am looking forward to not having to:

·       Remember to carry toilet paper and wipes everywhere.
·       Walk outside for 10 mins to use a toilet whilst @ work
·       Roll up trousers every time I pee (public toilets)
·       Having a toilet in my flat that I don’t regularly (daily) have to fix
·       Feeling like gagging when using the facilities in some locations
·       Avoiding using the local ‘tajik paper’ it is like sand paper most uncomfortable!!
·       Having to use disgusting tap water in a bottle to  A) Flush toilet, B) Wash hands

Things particular to Khujand!!

Random Approaches by Strangers:
Yep a frequent occurrence and the conversation normally goes like this…………

Hello my name is xxxxx. I speak English can I be your friend what is your number. Where do you live can I meet you tomorrow? In fact was just approached by someone earlier in the Supermarket. They mean well but you have to be firm. Otherwise you will spend all your free time with these ‘new friends’.

I have gotten used to this to the point when friends were down recently and I was proudly explaining, how really now folks used to me here. They pointed out while walking into town the amount of people staring. Personally I feel it was probably down to the fact that there was a group of 3 foreigners.

Stranger in Town:
In a rather somewhat egocentric way I will kinda miss this. It is nice going places and everyone rushing to help you or been able to get into places. I have had a taste I guess of what life is like for ‘famous people’ ha ha!!

The reality is that there are few foreigners in K. Especially if you travel out of town. They are so proud of their locality and want to show it to the foreigner and make a fuss etc.

Mobile Phones:
Ah the Tajiks are so funny. They don’t seem to understand that you actually do not need to:

A)  Put the phone on speaker
B)  Scream into it whilst holding it in front of your mouth

I noticed myself doing this recently but I like to think that this is down to the fact that my phone is very old!!

I am used now to the fact that here men automatically will get up to give you a seat. And no it is not an age thing more cultural. The other day I had to stand and was disgusted that this man did not give me his seat. I tried the glaring technique to no avail. My only conclusion was that he must have been Russian!!

Staff constantly hovering around you!! By now they know me to the point where I don’t have to put my bags in a locker. But they still hover around me all the time.

When they don’t have small change they give you chewing gum/sweets.  I once saw a local person give me a sweet in lieu of change. I was roaring laughing, fair enough!!

Trying to conduct business in private
Yeap the Tajik’s have little or no sense of boundaries. It happens all the time.

When I’m @ bank, ATM, Mobile Phone shop – people will crowd around you stop what they are doing and just listen/look. Usually I’m okay with it however I did lose the rag one day with a guy literally looking over my shoulder. I asked him please to move and give me some space. (all done via sign language and little Tajik).

Spitting in the Street
Oh dear it is such a cultural thing here. Men spit constantly. Driving the open the door and spit out it. I have wondered why they don’t just use the window. I was told they spit due to problems with their kidneys. Can’t quite figure out the connection mind you!!

But it’s not just a little ‘oh something in my throat’. It’s a massive effort seemingly to spit as much as you can. I have narrowly avoided it landing on me. It’s so bad that even on the stairwell in the flat block you have to avoid it!!

Top Ten Items I brought with me!!

1.  Headlight
2.  Lap Top
3.  USB Port
4.  ATM Card
5.  Bug spray
6.  Sun Cream
7.  Movies
8.  I-Touch   
9.  Fleece Jacket
10.Hiking Boots

Top Ten List for things to appreciate in Dublin!!
1.  Water 24/7
2.  Electricity 24/7
3.  Toilets
4.  Oven
5.  Microwave
6.  Food – availability off!!
7.  Nice bottle of red wine
8.  Car
9.  Laser Card
10.Understanding what is been said 24/7

PS: Didn’t include my family + friends cos so obvious!!

So that’s if folks. I hope over the past while I hope I have been able to give you a hint of the culture and life here in Tajikistan. To think that this time last year I had never even heard of this country. What an amazing journey for me!!

Treasured memories, incredible experiences, new friendships and a wonderful six months.

As always from me to you goodnight!!!

See you all back in Dublin.

Lainey xx

PS: The one thing I will take back with me is shoes off  when you go into a house.  I had no idea how much crap you carry around on your shoes. My new rule for visitors to chez moi – shoes off!!




  2. what were you expecting - a gilded toilet? When you visit a third world country, you should automatically lower your expectations. Tajik people are extremely hospitable and they go all out to please foreigners! This article is deeply offensive to Tajiks, if I were you, I'd take it down.

  3. That's really a great effort to bring in Tajikistan. In some point, I did enjoy staying in this country. Meeting you and the rest of the volunteers are really a worth to remember. http://www,