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Photographer's Note

In my last post I wrote several paragraphs about the transport I used in Tajikistan. This time, I’m going to tell you about… my accommodation.

Hands up those who thought I was going to say “local people”. You were also correct… 😊

To make up for the lack of adventure (and the price) of my mode of travel from Dushanbe to Khorog, I decided to book a homestay rather than a hotel. I spent 4 nights in this lady’s house. She was a traditional housewife and she always kept herself busy. She didn’t do housework as such, it was her daughters-in-law who did the hard work, but she spent some time supervising what was going on in the house, especially the kitchen. And when she had nothing else to do she spent time turning wool into yarn. Always standing, never sitting. And she always had that cheeky smile on her face, especially while filling up my plate, making me eat more than I normally do…

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a language between us. She knew few words of Russian and spoke some Tajik (closely related to Persian, one of Western Iranian group of languages), while her mother tongue was Pamir (which belongs to Eastern Iranian language family). Instead, I spent many hours talking with her husband Tolek who spoke fluent Russian. I really enjoyed those conversations.

When Tolek had nothing else to do he would drive me around Khorog in his 4WD Toyota. Being driven by him was quite an adventure and made up for the boredom of the smooth (well, except the condition of the road) ride from Dushanbe to Khorog. The first time he gave me a lift he started with reversing into a gatepost in his own front yard. The next step was equally exciting - I still remember the horror on the petrol station owner’s face when Tolek’s car almost knocked a fuel pump over. Unfazed, we carried on and I noticed (although it may have been my imagination) that people quicken their pace, desperate to reach the pavement before the approach of the red Toyota. We still managed to almost hit a pedestrian, almost ran over a cat and narrowly avoided crashing into another car whose driver, how naively, thought that normal traffic rules applied and stopped at a crossing waiting to turn left thus becoming an obstacle on Tolek’s way forward. I felt like asking: “Tolek, have you ever driven a… tank”, but I thought better of it.

I left Khorog the next day, planning to return a week later. I was looking forward to resuming our conversation about his life and family but, when I came back, I found out that Tolek had been taken to Dushanbe due to medical emergency, in need of a cardiology specialist unavailable in Khorog. I hope he is still alive.

You can see a photo of Tolek and another one of his and Gul's house in WS.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1344 W: 6 N: 2467] (14001)
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