So this blog concept is an interesting one. It seems that some people only want to hear good, happy, adventurous, fun things about a place. As you can see, I haven't blogged for awhile because I've been struggling with this concept. I don't have happy, fun, adventurous stories to tell...I live in Tajikistan. It's not that my life is so terrible here and the Tajik people in general are quite nice and hospitable. This particular blog post might sound as if I'm complaining about the place but I'm not complaining, I'm merely blogging about the reality of the place where I happen to be working. I'm not complaining about the people I'm complaining about the COLD!!!!! It's so bloomin' bloody freaking cold in Khujand (-3 C, about 22 F for a high) that I honestly don't know how the Tajiks survive without heating.
This morning I was wrapped up in my comforter sleeping next to the heater like a cat next to a fire and was warm and cozy. I got a text from a friend who wanted to go check out the Yakshanbe market and the Chinese market. Those are just outdoor markets in which one can buy clothes, shoes, housewares, food, and other bits a bobs. I call it the shopping mall because it's the closest thing they have to a mall although it's not a shopping mall because it's all outdoors. Today I agreed to go with my friend because I wanted to find a belt, but I forget that these markets are outdoors. It's not as if I'm going inside a nice shopping mall that's heated and protected from the wind. I stepped into the Chinese market which is like a circus tent with stalls and within 5 minutes I couldn't feel my hands or feet. I happened to buy a pair of shoes from a vendor and when I was trying to take my money out of my change purse and my hands were bright red and I could almost hear them cracking like they were frozen. (I'm actually laughing at that now). Pam and I crossed the street to go to a different market and we wanted tea badly to get something warm in our stomachs. We found a tea house and do you think it was indoors? Of course not. Pam commented that she felt like we were at an agricultural fair. No, we were at my so-called mall. We sat under a tent at a table and ordered tea. Pam ate the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I brought her and I ate a spinach filled samboosa I had gotten earlier in the day. Pam and I had a conversation about the amount of fat the Tajiks eat and now we know why they eat so much fat; It's the only way to stay warm. They don't seem to get fatter in the winter and I've found myself eating more food than usual, too, but gaining any weight. They must burn it all off keeping warm. They eat a lot of bread and cook with copious amounts of oil in their dishes and eat the butt fat off the sheep. My stomach turns when I think about eating those things but it's all beginning to make sense to me now. I stay away from the fat and exercise regularly and want to lose fat and gain muscle but I see that muscle won't keep me warm when it's literally 22 degrees (F) outside and I'm trying to function. I honestly don't know how the vendors do it. I suppose if it's their only source of income and working means standing in the freezing cold then it has to be done.
Pretty much there are no warm places to go outside my apartment besides a hotel that has a restaurant attached to it. It's a pricey hotel (by Tajik standards) and the people who stay there are Russians or wealthy Tajiks. The hotel and the restaurant are heated so Pam and I usually opt to go there to eat because then we take off our "cold weather gear" and sit comfortably.
Even my university isn't heated and in the middle of my lesson I'll find my hands hurting from the cold and then I can't feel my toes. I'm standing and moving around and I can only imagine just how cold my students are. I try to get them up and moving with activities but that's not always enough. They've had to deal with this all their lives but that doesn't mean they like it.
Spring will hopefully be here in another few weeks. It can't come fast enough!!!
"The ideas, opinions, and complaints expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the views or ideas of the United States Department of State nor the English Language Fellow Program."