Sunday, November 8, 2009

Manual Labor

I'm settled (sort of) in to Khujand. I feel like I've lived in 3 different countries but I've only been in one, Tajikistan! Gharm, Dushanbe, and Khujand are all so different. I really feel like I'm living in a Russian territory in Khujand. It's a cool city though and I like the sophisticated, cultural vibe I get from it. I almost feel like the Tajiks are out of place here it's almost like their visitors in a Russian province...but that's just my opinion.

I like my apartment. It's small but will be easy to heat in the winter. It's really no wonder that the Tajiks can't get ahead. Everything here is done manually and EVERYTHING takes so long to do. I wanted to make chili which I've never really done before but instead of going to the store the just buying kidney beans already cooked in the juice and a can of stewed tomatoes I had to do everything manuall. I went to the big outdoor market and bought kidney beans, beautiful tomatoes, garlic and lots of other spices and stuff to put in there. Then I had to go to the real supermarket and buy meat. The shopping process just to buy stuff for chili took approximately 1 1/2 hours. Then of course I had to MAKE it. I soaked the kidney beans for a few hours and then cooked them. Chopped up the tomatoes and onions and stewed them. Then I chopped up the garlic and green onions and put everything together. The process of making the chili was about 2 hours. It's okay's lasted me for several meals over several days and it turned out REALLY good. Then I bought some grapes and I have to peal them (haha) because I didn't have any distilled water to wash them with and there are seeds inside. So I peeled the grapes and took out the seeds and ate them.

The process of making toast makes me laugh. I can put it in the oven, but it will take 30 minutes for toast. Oatmeal on the stove takes 20 minutes (no instant). Nothing is instant here...nothing. And I have no dishwasher so whatever dishes I dirty I have to wash them myself (I don't mind, I'm used to it).

Then that's not the process of getting water that's drinkable. My landlady bought me a 5 liter thermos for heating water. That's great and it gets it boiling but ever after it's boiled there's a nasty film on the top of the water and there's dirt in the cannister (it's mountain water). I have a small coffee maker with a filter-ish kind of thing so pump the water out of the thermos and into a pot, let it cool, and then pour the water through the filter and into empty bottles. I can use that water to wash vegetables and stuff. It's drinkable but doesn't taste good. Luckily there's easy access to fresh water at the supermarket just down the street. All of that is just for food. Then there's the process of washing clothes! Oh my goodness! I have to wash them by hand. I put them in a bucket in my bathtub with scrubbing powder and manually scrub my clothes clean. The wringing part of it will give me arms of steel! haha I consider washing clothes my workout! Then I have to find a place to hang my clothes. There a small line outside, but the other day I put some clothes out and it rained on them, and now it's snowing. So much for the clothes line. I brought my own clothes line and have to figure up some way to hang the stuff up. Whew! All of this on top of having a job! It's no wonder Tajik women don't work!

Apparently the electricity was out in all of Dushanbe this morning. I'm just waiting for that to happen here. I'm supposed to have electricity a lot of the time, but when I moved in there was an endless supply of candles and lighters in the apartment and lots of bottles of distilled water. I have a feeling it will be a loooooong, cold, dark winter!


  1. Should I send you some Vit D supplement along with the coffee? It will help with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) if you feel like you might get depressed due to not getting enough sunlight. LMK! I'll get a package in the mail as soon as we get back from FL. I can't believe you have to wash clothes by hand, too! The food sounds wonderful- cooking from scratch is worth it. But clothes... wow.

  2. Hey Dev I just read your comment. Any vitamin supps would be GREAT! My dad sent some Vitamin B supps to me to help with my energy because I'm literally running around ragged all the time. I love my work, but that's the nature of this place. I finally got a washer lady...that's a HUGE relief! :-)