Being greeted in the Tajik language is an experience. Every morning I go through the ritual of greeting and being greeted. The Tajik greeting rolls off the tongue like a rhyming riddle, the translation is not as smooth, but it looks like this:

Coworker: “How are you? Good, Great, Fantastic? How is your family? Good, Great, Fantastic? How is your health? Good, Great, Fantastic?”

Me: “Thank you. Good, Great, Fantastic! How are you, your family, and your health? Good, Great, Fantastic?”

Coworker: “I have the greep, but otherwise I’m Good, Great, Fantastic!”

The Greep is an all inclusive way to characterize winter illness, similar to how we use “having a cold” in English. What is distinctly different is the way a person gets the greep vs. how a person gets a cold. The Greep’s most common causes are drinking something cold in winter or being exposed to a cold wind. This is a matter of fact; we’re not talking about an old wives tale.

How do you treat the greep? You go to the doctor who diagnosis you based on medical intuition, there are no strep tests here. Once diagnosed you are told what to go the pharmacist and buy, no prescriptions are needed to purchase medicine at the pharmacy. Once you get the medicine maybe you ask your friend or family what the medicine is. I have been consulted with regularity to review what my co-workers are taking.

I’ve found that people are frequently taking general anti-viral and anti-bacterial medicines at the same time. Ah-ha, I see the brilliance, just in case medical intuition fails, treat for everything, and the patient will get better in 7-10 days. If a patient doesn’t lose the greep in the anticipated time frame, this is when things get interesting. Medicines then get main lined through an IV system.

If this is how the common cold is diagnosed and treated, just imagine something like cancer. Well, you have to have a certain level of health care to be able to diagnose cancer, so for the time being Tajikistan is virtually cancer free. Tajik people are SUPER TOUGH.

This brings me to dental work. When a person’s teeth start to disintegrate they are encased in gold. The nutrient poor diet in some regions matched with teeth brushing being a new trend there are lots of golden smiles.

My co-worker was having problems with his teeth hurting after a bout with the greep.  So, for a week he received treatment at the dentist office. Out of curiosity I went with him one morning. He sat down in the chair, no anesthetic was applied, and a large needle was thrust in to his gums on either side of his mouth. Without complaint this man proceeded to lead youth meetings all week. Where is the Wheaties box for this man’s face to be displayed on?



  1. In sounds like it is better not knowing about the possible alternatives when faced with this level of dentistry. The old adage, 'Ignorance is bliss'. I've had the greep here too, but Echinacea cured me :)...kind of.

  2. How is the aquisition of your donkey coming along? Tell Mikey that I think he has posted some great Buzkachi photos!