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?