Apparently, lots of people like cycling through Tajikistan, or at least it seems that way because I’ve run across a bunch of websites dedicated to cyclists’ trips across the country. First I read about the guy who biked from Japan to England over the course of three years, now I’ve found the Barneses. Tim Barnes took the photo below after arriving in Dushanbe in 2006. He and his wife ended up cycling 3,500 km across Central Asia that summer.
That’s Rudaki Avenue, and it’s my understanding that it is the main street through the center of the capital, flanked on either side by government buildings, embassies, and monuments. It used to be called Lenin Street, natch, and was renamed after independence for the ninth-century Persian poet Rudaki. He’s widely regarded to be one of the most influential and beautiful poets in Central Asian history. There’s a lot of his poetry in translation available on the web, and below is an excerpt from a poem of his talking about the Oxus River, which flows through Tajikistan and is now called the Amu Darya:
The sands of Oxus, toilsome though they be,
Beneath my feet were soft as silk to me.
Glad at the friend’s return, the Oxus deep
Up to our girths in laughing waves shall leap.
Not sure that the over wide Soviet road populated by brokedown Ladas and flash Land Cruisers does the guy justice.