Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ahhhh, Istanbul

Our Tajik adventure is over. It was sad to leave all our friends behind. We spent most of our last day having friends over for tea and we even played some music and danced. The next morning we got up early, and with the help of our favorite neighbor, Nigina, found a taxi to the airport where we were met by Safina and Maruf to see us off. The Dushanbe airport was an experience and well worth the $40 to be able to say Andy bribed a Tajik passport officer in the Dushanbe Airport bathroom in order to get on the plane (he had a correction on his visa when it was issued, but it didn't have the offical stamp and signature . . . long story) but the flight was smooth and the food was even better than on British Airways, which isn't saying much. Upon landing in Istanbul, it was refreshing to have a burracratic-free visa process . . . just 20 bucks and a stamp and that's it. To save a few bucks we took the metro and light rail to Sultanahmet, lugging our overweight packs and bags the whole way. We went back to our friends at Mavi Guesthouse, where we stayed in June. They could only offer us dormatory style or the smallest double room ever. So we took the double room. Written in small letters in pencil on the inside of the door were the words, "Loser. You ended up in this room." and "This was the prision in Midnight Express." The next day we went out in search of a nice room where Sonja can finish her thesis, preferably one with a window where two people can stand up at the same time. We ended up finding a sweet room at the Stone Hotel that was not only within our dwindeling budget (thanks to Sonja's barganing skills) but with tons of space for Sonja to work, our own bathroom with hot water, a view overlooking one of Sultanahmet's many mosques, a super nice stone courtyard, and it's warm.
We'll be here for the next two weeks. Working, relaxing, and trying to ignore the harassing street vendors . . . "Excuse me sir! Where are you from? Can I show you my carpets? Please, madam. Just one look!"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kheli Agib Ast!

Our last hurrah in Tajikistan. Here it is folks, our long anticipated Tajik television debut performance. The first bit of footage is from a rehersal and interviews at Theatre Padida. The second bit is from a studio performace at the TV station later that same day. We actually recorded four pieces, but they just showed the one number on TV (and we unfortunately missed recording the introduction and first interview).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Gem from Murghab

While we were traveling around Badakhshan we were hosted by gracious musicians and dancers who were more than happy to share with us their heritage of music and dance, and we would sometimes feel separated from modernity and transported to another time. But the friendly artists of Murgab, one of the most isolated places in Central Asia, insisted on letting us know that they weren't going to be left behind by the times. At the end of a performance featuring traditional Badakshani and Kyrgyz music and dance, they proudly plugged in their synthesizer for some pop tunes. The best part? . . . . They left on their traditional Kyrgyz costumes! Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lebosi Tojiki

We took these pictures for a newspaper article featuring Sonja and thought you all would enjoy them. These are Kulobi and Shashmaqam costumes for stage performance; the costumes were supplied by Theater Padida. People here are really curious and want to know why we are interested in learning about Tajiki dance and music. We think this newspaper article is a precursor to a television program we are supposed to be performing for, coming up soon. . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Another Video of Badakhshan Dancing

Another video from Badakhshan for y'all. The quality of the video on this try isn't so good. I'll render it again and repost it, so check in again for a better quality video . . . for now, just stand a couple feet away from your computer screen. Hob. Mylesh.

Friday, November 10, 2006

One bottle of ketchup, an Eid, a bazaar, and a wedding

Another entry on life in Dushanbe. The rain has finally arrived and its become cold and drizzly, much like Seattle actually. Sonja completed half her thesis (rough draft, that is) and is back to coaxing Nasiba into translating more interviews and songs for her next section. In Andy-news, a bottle of actual Heinz ketchup was discovered in the local supermarket! It somehow dissappeared within about three or four days.
For Eid (celebration at the end of Ramadan), everyone visits their friends and family and eats a lot of sweets. We went with our friend Aya first to her neighbor's house and then to our friend Safina's house. There was a huge spread of food at both places, mostly sweets but also some sambusas, and fried bread, along with the homemade halvah, cakes, cookies, and other shireen-i.
A photo of Sonja and Safina,

and one of the spread!

We also recently headed out to the mega-shopping district of Dushanbe (Karavan Bazaar) to get some presents and some warm clothes. It was actually too warm that day and also too crowded but we found a few things. The best part of the outing was finding a sweet little cafe up above the crowds with open windows, a cool breeze, and a good osh (Tajik rice dish with carrots, onions, and garbonzos).
Some shots of the bazaar:

And, in the latest news, last night we attended a double wedding. Sonja actually met the two grooms in a costume shop as they were buying traditional Tajiki clothes to wear for the last half of their wedding (the first half they wore white dresses and suits). They were very insistent that we attend the wedding, surely because of our foreign status. Also because of the foreign status, they insisted Sonja make a speech at the wedding. She spent half the night fretting about it and trying to compose something in Tajik. She did do it in Tajik and, for the most part, it suceeded quite well! However, on the way home, she realized that instead of saying at the end "I will finish now because I only speak a little Tajik," she said, "I will be finished now (meaning I will die now) because I only speak a little Tajik!" We were laughing the whole rest of the way home! Surely, many of the wedding guests also got a good laugh out of it. We got a great photo with the brides and grooms since they insisted we take one with them (they sit on a raised platform and we would have both been way too shy to venture up there with them if they hadn't insisted on it). Tajik brides rarely raise their eyes from the ground and bow from the waist every three minutes or so. (They don't usually look as if they are enjoying themselves.)
We got a phone call from our landlord today congratulating us for being on TV. Apparently the wedding, or some part of it, aired on Tajik television! Day by day, Andy and Sonja are becoming famous in Dushanbe. Our dance and drum teachers are also conspiring to get us on television, Andy playing Kulobi rhythms on tavlak and doira (and maybe a little lapchang/mouth harp) and Sonja dancing Kulobi style.
The election results for Tajikistan are in! President Rahmonov has been re-elected by a narrow margin of 76%!

Friday, November 03, 2006

a bunch of ramdom pictures