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Archive for May, 2009

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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It may be a little gauche to throw a party for yourself, but when it has to be done, it has to be done.

My going-away party, charmingly titled The “TJ Isn’t Necessarily Tijuana” Going Away Party, is now “officially” scheduled for Saturday, May 30, 2009.  The exact itinerary/schedule hasn’t be finalized yet, but the shindig will definitely be on that day and it will definitely take place in the environs of Davis Square in beautiful Somerville, Mass.

The tentative plan is to start in the afternoon at the wonderfully dive the Sligo Pub, then make our way to Sacco’s Bowl Haven for some of New England’s own candlepin bowling, and then after a few frames, move on to Redbones for some BBQ and the best beer list in Davis.

I set up an “event” on Facebook and I’ll be sending out an Evite soon, once the particulars are fixed, but if you’re reading this blog, assume you are invited and pencil in the date.

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One part of Tajikistan I definitely want to explore at some point in the next year is the Pamirs.  Those are the mountains that span almost the whole of eastern Tajikistan along its borders with Afghanistan, China, and Kyrgyzstan.  The old Persians called the Pamirs “the roof of the world,” and they are stunning and stark.  The cyclists’ blogs I highlighted before all have amazing shots of the mountains (particularly on A Long Ride Home), as does Tajik.info, which is a web gallery of Tajikistan photos.  Here’s a few samples of the Pamirs from Tajik.info:

A public park in Khorog on the edge of the Pamirs, which are in the background

A public park in Khorog on the edge of the Pamirs, which are in the background

The Pamirs from the air

The Pamirs from the air

There’s lots more spectacular photography from Mikhail Romanyuk on Tajik.info and you should definitely check it out.

Edited on 2 April 2010 to remove dead photo link and resize Pamirs mountain photo to fit the column width.

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