The Social Scene in Shaartuz

There is rumor of an underground disco in Shaartuz…there is rumor of an UNDERGOUND DISCO in SHAARTUZ! As this rumor was being discussed over a meal of shashlik (kebabs), my fellow Mercy Corps interns and I were contemplating how we could find the disco. One of our fellow coworkers responded “why do you need to find a disco, I know the owner of this restaurant and this can be our disco.”   

This conversation was at the beginning of dinner, we all chuckled, and continued to enjoy our meal. We were sending off a Mercy Corps intern, Vanessa the agronomist, who was returning to America. She had made quite an impression on the community, in 5 months she had mastered conversational Tajik. I was told this week that to learn Tajik, one must love Tajik people, and then it will be easy to learn the language. It is clear that Vanessa loved Tajik people, and I like to think I am following in her footsteps.

As the meal came to an end, we were all lubricated, and the idea of making a disco in the restaurant sounded less funny and more like a good idea. The tables were pushed to the side, the music was turned up, and we danced! We danced with our arms in the air, as is the Tajik way. We embraced the moment. This is the way to live and enjoy Shaartuz.

I couldn’t help but notice that our Tajik coworkers danced similarly to their fellow Soviets in Georgia. The music is different, but the body movements are similar. When surrounded by the people of Tajikistan when they are speaking Tajik, it is easy to forget about the Soviet past. This week we received a new American supervisor, Justin, he speaks Russian. With his presence, Russian is used more frequently in the office. It is amazing to see how easily my coworkers move in and out of Russian, both linguistically and culturally.

Justin arrived from Mercy Corps Afghanistan in Kunduz. As the bird flies this is approximately 80 kilometers from Shaartuz. Last night he made the comment, that to see how significant the Soviet influence was and is, you just need to cross the border. He is happy to be in Tajikistan. We are happy our American enclave in a region of 100,000 has expanded to 3.

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