Monday, June 28, 2010

the cute couple

Those of us who live on Pushkin Street share a building with a number of Tajiki families. (part of being a wealthier tajik is having a car. part of having a car is having a place to put it. which at our apartment translates to some creepy "rape dungeons" in the backyard. lovely and tasteful joke we make every morning... but that is off topic.) The family that lives right across from our apartment has provided me great joy by way of their slightly rebellious teenage daughter and her very proper looking russian boyfriend.

If I time it just right after class, I catch this cute girl and her russian boyfriend standing in the hallway - just outside of the vision range of her family's peep hole - speaking shyly, giggling and generally being adorable.

The other day our door was bolted (we have three locks... a good thing given that a creepy drunk man was tapping on our windows throughout the day) and it was taking my roomy a ridiculously long time to get them open. the cute couple and i shared a laugh. I felt like they had let me into their secret when he felt comfortable enough to lean in for a kiss in front of me. it made me feel fuzzy inside. as did the fact that he recognized me in the street and gave me a very respectable, upright-boy sort of nod.

Tajiki parents, I know my scandalous knee-length skirts make my opinion unreliable, but I approve.

on a slightly more personal note, this weekend's shivers, inability to keep food comfortably in my stomach, and general illness were probably heat stroke. which in tajiki literally translates to "sun struck." I wonder if i can say "love struck"...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Irany hastee?

I am fairly certain this is the only place in the world where I will routinely be asked if I am Iranian. That is, after they assume I am Russian but fail to gain a response to their questions in Russian.

Its not quite as random as it sounds. Im here with 18 other students learning Persian, of the Iranian variety, while most people here - a former soviet republic - speak Russian and the local, Tajiki accented Persian. I am trying my hardest not to pick up the tajiki accent as I was told it is "cute" to Iranians and Iranian Americans. Not what I am going for.

Dushanbe, our lovely home for a month and a half, is the capitol of Tajikistan, the smallest and the poorest former "stan." The official population of the city is 1,000,000 but more commonly assumed to be closer to 2,000,000, enough to barely make it visible from a plane at night. The twice weekly flights, that is, that you can catch from Istanbul on Turkish Airways.

The highlight of the city is the women's style. I know this is not very culturally sensitive, but to my eyes it looks like Pajamas and unibrows are in! Ill post pictures when I find some wifi... this pic was all i could find on a quick google search.

While I am having a wonderful time, I have to admit that I do not feel especially tied to the place. A large part of that is because it is extremely hard for western women to meet local people. Wait. Strike that. It is really easy to meet creepy men. not easy to meet women or generally less creepy men. This makes perfect sense. Name one city in the world where the men who are most likely to approach a foreign woman are the stand-up, educated and wealthy types. Add to that the fact that my Persian is extremely limited. This basically means I get to talk to the man who takes orders in the cafeteria, sales clerks, and random creepers to generally look around sketchily as we speak. lovely.

the good news is, i love our group!! And our Iranian teachers. Lucky for me, I am in the lowest level and get to have the legendary Khanom Neovarani. Her mad skills with beginner level students has been the amazement of students over the short 4 years this program has been running. and so it continues. i can make full sentences!

Now I need to learn how to say "shame on you" when I get propositioned. This week's highlights were "how much?" (thats right, in english) and "hoshmazeh" (delicious, in persian) Apparently I look like a russian prostitute?