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Archive for May, 2009

I have definitely been pushing the idea that people should come visit me in Dushanbe over the couse of the next year.  This request has been met with a variety of negative responses:

  1. That’s really far away.
  2. It’s too expensive to get there.
  3. I’d rather go to Paris, the Caribbean, Hawaii, anywhere else before I go out there.
  4. Who are you?

Luckily, some of my friends and family have a sense of adventure, or they are adept at humoring me, and they want to come visit me in Tajikistan.  As this is something I really want to happen, I have created a “Trip Idea” on Kayak.com that will help people track fares to Dushanbe and, more helpfully, the major gateways to the “Roof of the World.”  The link is:

My Kayak Trip Idea "Get to TJ"

My Kayak Trip Idea "Get to TJ"

So, no excuses, get on it!

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My Memorial Day in New York City has been lovely.  It’s been fantastic to catch up with my friends down here and spend some time outside — mostly in Prospect Park and the Green-wood Cemetery.  At the latter, the highlight was seeing Boss Tweed’s tomb, but the moving part was to see all of the stones of the Civil War soldiers, which seemed appropriate on Mem Day.

Aside from seeing my friends, a big reason for the trip was to deliver my shipping boxes to the freight forwarder at JFK airport.  Unfortunately, although I had been speaking with the folks at the forwarding company for weeks, I hadn’t sent them paperwork until last Friday.  Because it is Memorial Day weekend, however, nothing could be processed until Tuesday, which was a problem as I had brought my shipping boxes weighing 225 lbs. to New York with me and I needed to drop them off on Monday.  Well, after calling around, it became clear that even though the passenger side of the airport was fully functional on a holiday, the cargo people were all at barbecues and that the cargo facilities were all closed.

Luckily, in calling around frantically to figure out my shipping options, I called Simple Freight Solutions, which is an outfit on Long Island.  SFS’s owner, Patrick, was a no nonsense type who could get the job done at half the price and, better yet, I could drop my boxes at Logan.  Sure, I felt a bit dumb for dragging my stuff down to New York unnecessarily, but there’s no reason to compound the error by leaving the boxes in NYC and trying to arrange something from afar.

I’m off to Florida tomorrow, but I’m hopeful I can get this all worked out.  Fingers crossed.

Simple Freight Solutions

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An egg and bacon salad with a goblet of Maredsous beer

An egg and bacon salad with a goblet of Maredsous beer and a side of Belgian frites

This is one important way that my trip to Dushanbe will be different from my trip to Mons, Belgium, for instance.

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I’ve been out in Michigan visiting my grandmother; it’s one of the things I wanted to do before I took off for a year.  As a result, my posting has been nil.  I’m around for the next couple of days, so expect more stunning Tajik photos soon.  In the meantime, let me try to describe my Michigan trip with links and terse statements:

  1. Vernor’s – not as good as I remembered, very carbonated
  2. The Ramada Saginaw – free continental breakfast and dinner
  3. Nissan Versa coupe – you could do worse for a rental
  4. Whittemore, MI – not even a stop light
  5. Flint airport – shortest security screening line ever
  6. Mariner Market of Omer, MI – no words can describe the spectacularness of the jerky I got there
  7. Michigan State – still better than that other school in Ann Arbor
  8. Michigan’s economy and state of mind – Michigan is hurting

More soon . . .

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Books to go

It is said that when you know the books a person keeps and the ones they give away, you have a window into their soul.  Actually, I don’t know if that’s “said” because I’m pretty sure I just made it up.  Nevertheless, below is a list of books I’m giving away today to Got Books? — which sends donated books overseas to our troops, or gives them to educators or nonprofits here in the U.S — glean what insight you can from it:

  • Agee, Jonis. A .38 Special and a Broken Heart. Minneapolis: Coffee House P, Distributor, Consortium Books Sales & Distribution, 1995.
  • Carre, John Le. The Constant Gardener. New York: Pocket Star, 2005.
  • Crossette, Barbara. Great Hill Stations of Asia. New York: Basic Books, 1999.
  • Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Vintage, 1954.
  • Fenby, Jonathan. France On the Brink: A Great Civilization Faces a New Century. Grand Rapids: Arcade, 2000.
  • Harr, Jonathan. A Civil Action. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.
  • Hays, Rebecca, ed. The Cook’s Guide to Boston Restaurants, 2001-2002. New York: Boston Common P, 2001.
  • Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007.
  • Koski-Karell, Art, ed. The Unofficial Guide to Life at Harvard. Cambridge, Mass.: Unofficial Publications, Harvard Student Agencies, Inc., 2000.
  • Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
  • Lewis, Michael. Panic!: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2009.
  • Lieven, Anatol. The Baltic Revolution Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence. New York: Yale UP, 1994.
  • Palmer, Grant H. An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins. New York: Signature Books, 2002.
  • Shakespeare, William. All’s Well That Ends Well. New York: Washington Square P, 2001.
  • Steinsaltz, Adin. The Thirteen Petalled Rose. New York: Basic Books, 1985.

Thanks again to EasyBib for letting me indulge my bibliography predilection.

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. . . has involved taking three depos, a bankruptcy court hearing, a clerk magistrate’s hearing at the BMC, numerous meetings, and skipping lunch today.  I would say that “a good time was had by all,” but I don’t like to lie.

T minus 51 hours and counting.

In more exciting, TJ-related news, my ticket to Dushanbe was purchased to today.  Twenty-five hours of travel time from Boston to Dushanbe with layovers in Frankfurt and Istanbul.  I may have just enough time on my first layover to pop into the center of Frankfurt and quaff some of the city’s lovely apfelwein, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get into Istanbul as the time between planes is only about 4 hours.  That’s all right though, I’ll probably be pretty tired by that point.

Actually, I’m pretty tired now and I think I’m going to stop blogging and go home.

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This reminds me of where 95 goes from Attleboro into Pawtucket:

Tajik road along the border

Tajik road along the border

Riiiight.

So is everyone getting the idea that Tajikistan has some pretty impressive mountain scenery?  Thanks to Sophie who suggested in a comment elsewhere on here that I check out the gallery on the website for the Roof of the World Rally, which I did and on which I found this cool photo.

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Wine update

First off, the people at Federal Wine & Spirits in downtown Boston across from the Old State House are amazing.  Tom and Len totally hooked me up with a mixed case of spectacular wine to take with me to Tajikistan.  I told them the rough contours of what I wanted to take, and they found the perfect exemplars of each wine at the price point I wanted.  Here’s the choices:

2004 Castello di Volpaia Riserva Chianti

2004 Castello di Volpaia Riserva Chianti

Wow, what a list.  Everything from a classified growth Bordeaux and a primer cru Chablis to a Mendocino zin to a northern Italian gewurz to a single vineyard cab grown in the shadow of the Andes — this group has everything.  Federal Wine packed them all in a wine shipping box specially made in Alsace (and did I mention I have a terrific looking white from there too?), and with that, I should be good to go bringing some of the wino good life to Dushanbe.

Needless to say, I love this.  Also, a huge thanks to Seth to picking up the case for me today and for tasting with me last night.  Good times.

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In vino veritas

Today I pick out the bottles that go in the case of wine that I’m bringing with me to Tajikistan.  Thank you extra shipping reimbursement allowance!  I just hope the duty isn’t too bad and that I don’t have any problems getting it out of customs.

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The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

I’ve always wondered about the “sister cities” phenomena.  Why does it exist?  What does it do?  What is the point?

I supposed I could’ve looked at Wikipedia long ago and gotten all the answers, but it wasn’t that important.  It wasn’t an itch that I particular needed to scratch.

When I started looking into what Tajik information and resources were on the web, however, I kept coming back to the Boulder-Dushanbe sister city connection.  I may be that the Boulder-Dushanbe link pops up a lot because there is a dearth of Tajik-related websites in English, so if you’re searching for “Tajikistan” or “Dushanbe” then you’re bound to run across that sister city connection sooner or later.  According to the website, the connection is a real one that dates back to the Cold War and 1982, but the interaction between the cities has grown since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

For a long time the most visible manifestion of the unexpected Boulder-Dushanbe connection was the traditional Tajik teahouse (or choihona) in Boulder that was a gift from the City of Dushanbe in 1998.  Recently, Boulder’s return gift to Dushanbe was completed: a full-service cybercafe in Dushanbe.

At least I know I’ll be able to check Sox scores somewhere when I’m over there.  More than that, it’s heartening to know that some Americans somewhere know something about Dushanbe and Tajikistan.  It’s an obscure place to go off to, but in this great, big, diverse country of ours, there is something for everyone, and it seems that Dushanbe is that thing for at least some folks in Boulder.  And maybe that’s the point of sister cities: to connect with people from somewhere very different.

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