Friday, November 20, 2009

Take the Bad with the Good

Well, I've been kind of quiet in my posts because as of late life has been so sucky here that I just don't want to talk about it. I keep telling myself that it's only been 2 weeks and things need time to sort themselves out, and they are sorting themselves out now, but I just had to give it time.

My frustrations came from just simply living in Tajikistan. Khujand has been soooooo utterly difficult for me to adjust to. I did well in Gharm and Dushanbe but Khujand has really kicked me ass. It stems from not having a central contact here, not being able to communicate with my landlady, not trusting my assistant who lied to me and tries to trick me into telling her things (so I fired her and got a new one), not having running water most mornings and sometimes not all day, dim electricity, not being able to go out after dark (basically after 5 p.m.) because there are so few street lights and the men notice me whether it's light or dark out, and my internet doesn't work so well here like in Dushanbe so sometimes I can't access it and I must do all my work before 5 p.m. because after that then the internet is $.17 a minute!!! I must work quickly during the day and after 5 p.m. be in lockdown in my apartment with no internet. Also, it's irritating how people forget that I don't speak the language and can't communicate. My landlady finally brought a translator with her to my apartment one day to tell me some things about the hot water heater. I asked the translator where my landlady works and the translator said "What, she didn't tell you?" I was so mentally exhausted from living like a Tajik that I simply said "And just how is she supposed to do that?" Then the translator realized how dumb her question was and helped me out. Someone from the Embassy who's supposed to be my contact is also insensitive like that. Sometimes I can't contact people who speak Russian or Tajik so I call her and she asks me why I didn't call my contacts in Khujand. I don't even answer her when she says things like that and just tell her what I need. Also when my internet was down I called someone and she gave me a number to call to check on it and said the people speak English. Okay, fair enough. I called it and the number doesn't exist. I have Indigo Tajikistan for my internet but she gave me the number for Indigo Somonkom, nevertheless, the number doesn't exist. I called her back and told her that the number didn't exist and I had Indigo Tajikistan (which is based in Dushanbe, not in Khujand). She told me to go find someone with an Indigo Tajikistan phone. That would be like me walking out in the street in the U.S. and randomly asking people if they have a language that they don't understand. Come...the....fuck....on. That's been my default phrase that I say in my head (not to them) when people say things and don't think about what they're saying. And on top of that everyone told me Khujand has the freshest mountain air but I haven't seen the mountains for a week because they're hidden behind the smoke from the garbage and leaf burning. I had a weeks worth of garbage in my kitchen because I didn't know where to dump it. My landlady came and took me down to the main street and put it on a pile of leaves to be burned. What am I supposed to do when there are no leaves to burn? Where do I put it then?

Okay, so on the flipside. I resolved my issues with the internet. The person from the embassy took 3 minutes of her time and found out the satellite was down. I told the director of my department about the problems I was having with my assistant being untrustworthy and I was getting bad vibes from her so she gave me a new assistant. The old assistant worked for the Grammar man who shouted at me and said I should speak with a British accent, but my new assistant works in my same department and I like her a lot. I get good vibes from her.

I'm only teaching one group of students at the university and they are absolutely wonderful! They work so well together and work well with me. They are eager to learn and literally hang on every word I say. They're all girls, too, and we all get along so well. My classes are going well with them and I even added an additional conversation class with them. Today they offered to meet me once a week and go on an excursion in Khujand and show me the museums so they can explain things (it's in Russian) and the ballet and the fortress and other sites of interest. I normally wouldn't do that but they are really great girls and I look forward to seeing them every day.

I've begun teacher training and that's going really well and I look forward to those classes, too. I like to talk about language with them and show them new techniques and provide information that seems so logical to me, but to them, they've never heard of things that I talk about and they're just in awe and think everything I say is so wonderful. Ha It's just that they're administration is stuck in 1967 and they have no access to the internet to find out that there is a modern world out there!!! So I've brought it to them and it's working out great!

I also met a British woman and a German woman here to hang out with. It was really really really lonely until I met them because I couldn't go out after dark and I couldn't go to cafes and sit and drink coffee and work because the men won't leave me alone...and I get followed a lot. I met them so now I can go out and feel safer AND they are really great ladies. They're both in their late 50's, early 60's and have good attitudes and we've been supportive of each other. We have Friday dinners every week to vent off the steam from the week and Sunday breakfasts and walks around Khujand. We see the Tajiks all week and the Tajiks have such a different way of communicating and it's to be with people who are western, even if they're not American.

I've got things much more under least for today, but I'm beginning to see more good days than bad.


  1. Hi Sharon,
    I'm enjoying your 'blog reports'!! Check out my blog-
    Note that I have spelt my name with two 'ss'es!
    Love you

  2. Thanks Mahisshi I will check out your blog!

  3. amazing blog poste:-))))! very poignant and witty! I'd love to teach English there as an ELF one day! and also to learn some Tajik! I taught in Brazil as a Fubright ETA in the Uni, it was Great! If you have any other bloggs, I'd love to read them:-) you write very well