Archive for April, 2010

And now for something completely different, Friejose in TJ is teaming up with friend-of-Friejose Cedric to provide commentary on the impending NBA playoffs, and here’s the twist, in French on this blog.  Why?  Why the hell not?

That's "Lorsque se produit étonnant" to you.

For the French-impaired among us, like me, Google Translate will be used to translate every entry into English, and the translation will be posted immediately after the French version.  Cedric certainly could do a better job translating considering his English language fluency, but again, why not use a website for translation, just for the hell of it?

So, without further ado (adieu?), Cedric’s first NBA playoffs post en français:

Ca y est, finalement le moment que tout fan de basket qui se respecte attend: les phases finales du championnat NBA. Bien sur on connait les equipes qui y seront pour sur: les Lakers, Celtics, Cleveland et autres Dallas. Mais ce qui compte, ce sont les challengers, les “underdogs” comme les appellent nos amis americains. Nous, nous n’avons pas de mots pour ces equipes qui tentent de defier les statistiques et de creer la surprise.

Cette annee, les surprises sont de tailles: Oklahoma defie les champions en titres. Bien qu’ils aient perdu le premier match, les Thunder de Kevin Durant ont fait bonne impression malgre le retour fulgurant de Bynum. Et l’equipe de MJ alors? Les Bobcats de Charlotte n’ont pas reussit l’exploit de battre les finalistes de l’an passe, Orlando. Cela a peut-etre quelque chose a voir avec les neufs contres de D. Howard. Ils tenteront de franchir le mur mercredi ou se retrouveront a son pied.

Les autres? Pas de grande surprise si ce n’est la victoire de Portland sur un des grands favoris Phoenix. Cleveland, Celtics, Atlanta, Denver passent. Le duel des duels, finale de conference avant l’heure entre Dallas et San Antonio tourne pour cette fois a l’avantages des Mavericks. Parker et les siens ne laisseront surement pas Nowitzki marquer autant mercredi prochain.

Translation (courtesy of Google Translate):

Is it, finally, the moment that any basketball fan who respects himself awaits the final stages of the NBA championship. Of course we know the teams that will be there for about: Lakers, Celtics, Cleveland, Dallas and others. But what counts are the challengers, the “Underdog” as our American friends call them. We, we do not have words for those teams who try to defy the statistics and create the surprise.

This year, the surprises are sizes: Oklahoma defy the champions title. Despite losing the first game, the Thunder Kevin Durant made a good impression despite the return of Bynum dazzling. And while the team of MJ? The Charlotte Bobcats have not passed the feat of beating the finalists of the year passes, Orlando. That might be something to do with the new cons of D. Howard. They try to cross the wall will meet Wednesday or at its foot.

Other? No big surprise if this is the victory of Portland on one of the favorites Phoenix. Cleveland, Celtics, Atlanta, Denver pass. The duel of duels, the final conference before the hour between Dallas and San Antonio turns to this time has the advantages of the Mavericks. Parker and his family will leave Nowitzki probably not score as next Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of the NBA France Facebook page.  Become a fan, dammit.

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The past few days have seen the rule of Kurmanbek Bakiyev dissolve into riots, gunfire, and confusion.  For those of you who are interested, the revolution is being tweeted.  I have tried to collect relevant people on Twitter here:

Also, check my direct Twitter feed as I will be retweeting relevant posts as much as possible.  Here are a couple to check out whether I retweet them or not:

  • David Trilling of Eurasianet is on the ground in Bishkek, has up-to-the-minute tweets, and is a very strong reporter;
  • The new interim president of Kyrgyzstan, former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva, is also tweeting (on background I’ve heard from knowledgeable people that she is smart and a democrat, so fingers crossed);
  • Mirsulzhan’s tweets have been really informative, which is unsurprising since he’s a Kyrgyz political scientist; and
  • Check the #freekg hashtag on Twitter, which is aggregating all of the relevant links.

Some of these tweets are in Russian, but Google Translate — http://translate.google.com/#ru|en| — works a charm to get a rough and ready translation in seconds.

Trilling’s latest piece for Eurasianet, “Bishkek Hesitant as Otunbayeva Forms New Government,” gives a very good sense for how things are now in the Kyrgyz capital.

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  • ош [osh] n. an entree made from rice, shredded carrots, chickpeas, lamb, and often other ingredients, like garlic, all cooked in a cast-iron pot with cottonseed oil; the national dish of several Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan; also called plov and pilaf.

Delicious! (Most of the time anyway)

No trip to Tajikistan would be, could be, complete without eating ош.

Tajik cuisine has three standard dishes: osh (or as I typically call it, plov, its Russian name), laghman (a noodle dish, sometimes in soup, sometimes not), and qurtob (chunks of bread soaked in oil and spicy yogurt).  These recipes are also claimed by Tajikistan’s neighbors in Central Asia, and every country, heck, every region within every country, proudly say that they make the best versions of each of these staples.  I like the Gharmi version of osh the best, I think — the garlic they add tweaks the usual just enough, and in a good way, to make it stand out.

I’m going to have “TWotD” posts on each of the three key dishes of the Tajik people in the coming weeks.  Hopefully, I’ll post recipes too so all you enterprising home chefs can give them a try if you want, though the quality of meat at home is too high to get a true sense of the plov-eating experience here.

*** UPDATE: Of course, how could I forget shashlik?  I’ll be doing a post on that delicacy of meat chunks soon as well.

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You’ve seen some action shots and a sepia toned homage to the doomed, saddled fighters against the Bolsheviks.  Now, some character studies of the buzkashi riders.

Serious and not-so-serious

On the ridge, amongst the spectators

Sauntering and smiling

Looking up at the crowd

Sure you can lose a tooth or two playing buzkashi, but it's worth it

And now, we say goodbye to Gharm and buzkashi, the match is over.

On the way home...

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The consort of the acting Swedish ambassador asked me at lunch what the deal was with all the posts about buzkashi. Did I have a thing for buzkashi?

The truth of the matter is that I took a whole of a lot of photos and many of them came out well, so I wanted to share.  Added to that is that I may never go to something quite as, uh, different as a buzkashi match again, so I wanted to memorialize it.  Plus, there are pictures like this:

Me playing with sepia tone, him looking like a happy basmachi

In case you’re wondering, a bit about the basmachi.  They fought the Red Army in Central Asia during the Bolshevik Revolution in the early 1920s, including in Tajikistan, what was then the eastern portion of the Emirate of Bukhara.  They fought on horseback.  They lost.

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From Yarkhap village about 12 km outside of Gharm, let me present the riders in a buzkashi match, the chapandoz, up close.

Battling to grab the goat, in the scrum

Whip in the mouth, angling to snatch away the goat

Slouching outside the scrum

Striving for the tire-goal, where the goat goes

More to come…

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The buzkashi riders post (“a character study of the chapandaz”) may happen later today, but it may have to wait for the weekend.  In the meantime, and since I’ll be laying the hash trail with Fla5her, No-Name Susannah, and Shag Hooker on Saturday morning (DH3 Run № 281), I wanted to share a view of the hilly countryside surrounding Dushanbe as seen from a trail we set a couple of weeks ago.

Looking to the east of Dushanbe towards Varzob

This is a very typical Tajik semi-rural scene, with the unterraced hillside fields, boxy houses, and towering mountains in the background.  Are you glad I share these things with you?  How else would you all be able to enjoy an early spring landscape in Tajikistan?

Thanks to the Dushanbe hash visitor Bang her & hash who took this photo at the hash flash overlook.  I swiped this from her Facebook page!

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