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Archive for the ‘Photo Introduction’ Category

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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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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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.

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I’m going to try and post photos of Dushanbe and Tajikistan before I go to give everyone a taste where I’m going.  I’m going to pull these off the web and try to give credit where it’s due, but if you’re an author and want me to take a pic down, I will.

First off is Dusbanbe’s Haji Yakub mosque:

Dushanbe's Main MosqueYou can see the Hissar mountain range to the north of the city too.  Of course, I can’t find where I grabbed this photo from, so my apologies for that.

UPDATE: I found the website I grabbed this photo from, its from the Luedtkes’ family website where they post pictures from their various trips.

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