A September 2002 trip
to Tajikistan by kachevnik
Quote: An insider's look into Tajikistan.
After one such trip, what I really wanted when I returned to Dushanbe, was a hot shower and a good cuppa Joe. But neither were to be had. The town's water system was out of whack again, which meant that the tap water was dirty brown since it hadn't been cleaned or filtered. Thus, a shower at that moment..., hhmmm...
And coffee, well, that was another story altogether. The only coffee to be had in the entire country (indeed, much of Central Asia) was Nescafe, a brown instant powder kind of like Tang, the breakfast drink of astronauts from my childhood in the 70s.
I called the director of my organization to lobby for purchasing a cappucino machine. Not only would we have the best coffee around, but the steaming mechanism would also purify the water, I told him, in jest.
Such an extravagance, in reality, was unthinkable. Tajikistan is the poorest country of the former Soviet Union. It is only now beginning to recover from the 1992-1997 civil war. When I was there, the "average" monthly salary was about $12. Now, it's around $20 a month. The public water system in the capital frequently malfunctioned, so many people were left to retrieve water from small ditches, sometimes resulting in typhoid outbreaks.
In spite of their poverty, Tajiks are incredibly hospitable. A guest, they say, is a gift from God. So, as a visitor, people will do whatever they can to make you feel at home. If you do have the opportunity to be invited into a Tajik home, bring a small gift such as sweets or juice and accept their offers graciously.