Sunday, December 6, 2009

When You Do Nothing Nothing Happens

In the previous post I noticed I was trying to explain how the Tajiks could actually make some money here. Tajikistan is such a small place but everywhere you go there's a different feel. When I was in Gharm the people were VERY traditional and the women ALL wore the Tajik national dress and head scarves and the older men wore long robes and had long white beards and wore little square hats. In Dushanbe (the capital) a lot of women wore the korta (national dress) but a lot of them didn't cover their hair. No women wore jeans and very few wore pants. In the U.S. women wear tight clothes and men wear baggy clothes but in Dushanbe the women wear baggy clothes and the men's pants and shirt are painted on. No complaints here! :-) In Khujand (where I am now) women wear tight jeans with knee high boots and only the old women wear the national dress and I've only seen a handful of women wearing a heard scarf. The fashion is different in these places and the attitude is different among the 3 places, but one thing that's the same is that there are groups of idle men just standing around doing nothing. In the U.S. if I walked past a group of boys who were about 20 years old just standing around I would wonder what they were up to. Here it's normal. The unemployment rate is ridiculously high and the guys just don't have jobs. Men just wander around...but it's NEVER just one or two of them, it's always AT LEAST 7. They don't know what to do with themselves. There isn't any industry here and there isn't anything that is really Tajik that they can export. Most of the goods are imported from Russia, China, or Canada. A lot of men leave Tajikistan (about 1 million this year) to work in Russia and send money back to Tajikistan to their families. That's dangerous because the economic crisis is affecting the whole world and their not so welcome in Russia. When the money their dries up then Tajikistan is in trouble.

This leads me to my point. I was so happy when I got my haircut yesterday and I saw that the women had things sorted out and they knew their trade. The lady who cut my hair had a rough technique but the end product was exactly what I wanted and that's all that matters. In this salon there were modern hair dryers, chairs that cranked up and down, gowns to go over people's clothes, a hairstyle magazine (one), and samples of colors for people to look at for hair coloring. I was impressed. Tajikistan is NOT modern so that's why I'm making a fuss over how nice this salon was. There were 5 hairstylists and about 15 customers in there at one time. If the Tajiks would put more women to work then Tajikistan could do alright. The men obviously aren't able to provide enough support for the families. Many men are taxi drivers but there's a gas shortage because Uzbekistan (where the benzyne comes from) is angry at Tajikistan for not giving them water for their electricity (hydro electricity) so even being a taxi driver isn't going to provide for stable work at this point. But it seems that women are always happy to get a hair cut or even just a style, and get their eyebrows plucked, too. The eyebrows are a HUGE deal here. Apparently before a woman is married she will grow a uni-brow. They're quite impressive I'll tell ya. It's a sign of beauty to have a uni-brow. Women will have hena painted in between their brows if they can't grow one naturally. I couldn't even IMAGINE trying to grow a uni-brow. I've never plucked my eyebrows in my life and they just look like normal brows. Then, in most part of Tajikistan it's customary for a woman to pluck her brows after she's married. Instead of looking for a wedding ring, a man will look at a woman's eyebrows to see if she's available. As you can see, there would be a huge business in eyebrows and there could be a big business in overall beauty. The women at the salon took the time to learn a trade and apply it and I give them mad props for helping to support a country that needs women to help hold this place together.


  1. Enjoyed reading your posts! And again, the haircut is awesome! I also love how Tajiks won't take more money than what something costs. I got some amazing stuff at an artisan sale today for Christmas presents.

  2. Awwww sweet! Sounds good! I need to get some artsy stuff when I'm back in The Doosh since they seem to have the good stuff. Khujand has nice architecture and looks like Europe, but there isn't REALLY a whole lot of stuff here.

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