Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bonding moment

Yesterday the students brought food so that we could celebrate Eid as a class together. It turns out that the time of fasting is not over for everyone though. The Muslims fast for one month, then have Eid, which is supposedly a three day holiday where they eat to their content. However, there are some Muslims who fast for one month, feast on the first day of Eid, and then fast again for 6 days. I found out from one of my students that he is fasting again for 6 days because he cheated during Ramadan and didn't fast for 10 days. Only 4 of the 15 students could join me and the other teacher for a feast because they were all fasting again. It was difficult enough looking at them in class all tired and hungry for the first 20 days I was here. Apparently they weren't so hungry after all! LOL That's alright, they've always been great students, whether they've eaten recently or not!

After the feast where only me, their teacher, and a few students ate there was a TON of food left over. All the students had brought food and they brought enough for 20 people to eat. Well, when only 6 people ate there was so much left. The students went home and left all the food. The teacher kept insisting that I eat some of the food right then and there and then take the rest home. I told him my little refrigerator in the hotel was completely full from Eid on Monday and I didn't have room. Then he kept insisting that I choose what I wanted to take. I took a few things here and there and then he kept insisting that I take the bread. I DON'T WANT ANYMORE BREAD! I can't eat it all and I already gave a bag full of bread to the lady at the hotel because I can only eat it so fast and eat so much. It's literally going to waste giving it to me. I did take home my favorite, mantoo, which looks like a dumpling stuffed with beef and onions. It's delectable! I have to learn how to make's the best!

By the time I left the school it was almost time for cooker lady, who's name is Zebo niso, to bring me dinner. I hadn't eaten for several hours since lunch and Z always brings me soup or something light for dinner. Since it was almost time for dinner, me and the teacher, Sharbot, went to Z's house to ask her to heat up the mantoo for me for dinner. When I was at Z's house she invited me to stay and have dinner with her and her family since it was close to the time anyway. Sharbot, who is a VERY Tajik man (I'll explain that comment some other time), had to leave but asked me who would be the translator. I told him I didn't need one. Soimehow Z and I always manage to communicate somehow, somehow. In fact, I communicate better with her in Tajik than I do with the director of this program and the English teachers in English.

I stayed Z and she invited me into her home for dinner. The homes of the poor in Tajikistan that I've seen are not mud with a thatch roof, not in the town of Garm anyway. The homes I've seen have been smooth concrete and are decorated inside with rugs hanging on the wall and pillows on the floor to lean on while they eat. Z's house is right next to the bozor (bazar) which is the main marketplace. She has a small dirt yard and I believe shares the area with some other families. Her apartment only has 3 rooms. Her living room and eating area is very small and there is another room where Z and her 2 children sleep together. She also has a kitchen for cooking. I haven't looked in there yet because I don't think I want to see where she cooks my food. It's always good, hot, and fresh. That's all I need to know.

I sat with Z and somehow, with my sketchy Tajik, I pieced together that she has 3 children. A daughter who is 21, another daughter who was at dinner with us who is 18, and a son who is 12. He sometimes comes with Z to the hotel to deliver my dinner. I also found out that she is 52 and she definitely looks like she's had a hard life. Her husband is a shithead (my words) who divorced her and left the country. He left her to support herself and her 3 children. Men divorcing their wives and leaving is as common as the sun shining here (and that's all the time). I asked her if she had satellite TV and she said no because she doesn't have enough money. She has to support two children who are still at home and herself. Her 21 year daugther MIGHT be married (I wasn't sure about that) and living with her husband but she doesn't live in the house with Z.

After dinner Z got up and started to do a Tajik dance. She wanted me to get up and dance with her so I did. I was surprised at how well she danced! We were laughing and she was so happy that I danced with her that she gave me a hug that nearly took the breath out of me. I'm 5'8" and she is about 5'2" and I outweigh her by a good 50 pounds, but she is so strong. When she hugged me it was a genuine, heartfelt, squeeze the breath out a person, hug.

So far the dinner with Zebo niso and her family has been the best time I've had in Tajikistan.


  1. Hello! Nice to see someone is actually interested in my blog! :-)

  2. Hi! I am doing some reading about Tajikiatan because recently i was offered to work there. I find your blog and how you view things/daily life there interesting... :-)