CITY FORMERLY KNOWN AS LENINABAD


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Asia » Tajikistan » Khujand
August 4th 2010
Published: September 13th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Very bad hangover from the potent Tajik vodka I had with Afred's father after the Fan mountain hike, I could not refuse his offer now I am suffering the consequence, I arranged with Nematov for a share taxi to Khojand, it came swiftly only for us to drive to the taxi stand and wait there for a good 2 1/2 hours before we left, the driver parked it in the sun so I have to get out and find a shade, almost everyone is going to Dushanbe and I am getting frustrated, eventually 2 men got on, a young man and an older gentleman, we stopped at this old man's house to pick up his things, then we picked up another passenger, a woman, we could not find her house, she would not answer her phone and when we did find it it took ages for her to get going, lots of wailing and crying in the house, everyone is in tears, maybe she is going away for a long time or whatever, when we finally left we went back to the taxi stand, some people handing the driver some documents and some envelope to be delivered in Istaravshan along the
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Sheikh Massal ad Din mosque complex
way. 3 hours later we are on our way. road was boring as I have seen it before and so I quickly fall asleep, waking up to this grand scenery of high cliffs, snow covered peaks and perilous narrow unpaved roads up the mountain, dust is thrown all over the place,there are some places where we are inches from the side of the ridge, this is a good time to be asleep I thought.despite it all, i was in awe for the spectacular colors of the hills, and pockets of trees on the side of mountains, unusual rock formations and occasional glacier here and there, the road is still being built and it looks like the workers are Chinese, there are danger warning signs in Russian, Tajik and Chinese characters.

Once we are down the valley the road becomes paved and this was a good time to stop for a late lunch. the restaurant is busy and i don't know how to order food, all the people in the share taxi with me disappeared to the toilet, I asked all the waiters what is to eat, one dude took me to the kitchen all I see was salad. I resigned to just have a bread or two, I sat down with the young man from the taxi then the rest came to our table, the driver muttered something to the waiter and food came! salads, some very sour cheese, bread, tea and lastly delicious grilled meat which I think is mutton. We had a great meal after all and only for $3 each. We then continued on, occasional breaks in the paved roads, several detours and later we found ourselves in Istaravshan, to deliver some letter, we parked somewhere and waited for the contact to pick it up, it's so hot here it does not seem interesting to look and have a wander, we saw this fort atop a hill on the way out of the city, i think we passed the bazaar beforehand. About an hour more or so we arrived in this big city, Khojand, i was the 1st to be dropped off.

We sat next to an apartment complex, the driver making calls, then nhe said to me finish here! ok what does that mean, this is not the bus station, then a young man came up and shook my hand and introduced himself as
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Sheikh Massal ad Din mosque complex
Beja' he is the son of my homestay host mom. he spoke a bit of English, a bit shy at first but we quickly became friends, 17 year old, in 10 minutes he now calls me his brother! we went up to this Soviet style apartment with dark halls, his mom was at the door, spoke no English but kind and all smiles, she is the sister of Nemat's wife, nemat recommended this place to me and instructed the driver to drop me off here, I was actually getting ready to stay in a hotel along Lenina but this is better deal. Quickly I was served food and beverage, and Beja told me about his family, his ambitions etc. His dad works as an Engineer in Russia. the house is simple and humble but comfortable and flushing toilets! the mom readied my bath, she made me go quickly, maybe she smelt my stench, I have not washed or changed clothes since the 4 day Fan mountain hike! gross but have no time to sort out my stuff.

Beja took me to a small store to buy cold water, he was hesitant at first saying about police might check my
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passport and all, i told him not to worry I have it with me at all times, the small shop also doubles as a barber shop and everyone stared at me as I buy the water, ten we stopped by Beja's little shop, for computer games, seems like all the kids in the neighborhood is there playing, he has a young boy for an assistant, keeping an eye on things when he is away. he comes back to his house every now on then to check on me, then the huge dinner came, soon after the mom retreated for the night, Beja and I chatted for a bit and listened to his music collection then off to bed, there are lots of mozzies so i have to bring out my sleep liner, it's quite hot and I was given a blanket! His mom washed all my dirty clothes for me, so kind!

Woke up the next morning,ready to explore the city, Beja was gonna go with me to town but he had to be in University to sort out some paperwork so after breakfast he walked me to the bus stand and told me to take the same bus,
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#13 to get back here from the Lenina main drag in the city. The bus attendant is a young boy, no more than 8 maybe, reminds me of my nephew, so young and yet already working. the bus quickly filled up after we crossed the Syr Darya river, suddenly I was ushered to get off by the young boy, I paid my 1 somoni and found the ATM machine right away, drew money then walked towards the Panchshanbe bazaar, I found the Sheikh Massal ad Din mosue, mausoleum and medressa complex.
Southeast of the citadel at a fairly large distance from it there is one more section of the old town, which is of interest -" Panjshanbe Bazzar" (meaning "Thursday market-a busy market day"). Like many centuries ago the main city market continues its functioning here nowadays. Once a lot of quarters of craftsmen entirely depending on the market were concentrated in this part of old Khojand. It is here that public buildings such as caravanserais, teahouses, bathhouses and mosques typical of Eastern market squares appeared gradually.

Read more: http://www.oocities.com/xojand/?201013#ixzz0zOht59I2

Had a quick look, then headed to the bazaar where I quickly was the center of attention, like
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always, the kids wanted their picures taken, even adults! odd thing here is they always ask me my age! everyone is so friendly and hospitable, unfortunately there is a language barrier but sign language often suffice,lovely people, so welcoming. I walked around for an hour getting lost in the crowd then when I had enough I retired to a small sashylik restaurant where all the waitresses wanted to marry me! they took my picture and then they asked me to come back soon! Quickly escaping them I found the shoe repairmen, I had my shoes mended once again every little hole patched, then the guy refused to accept my payment so I made him take it eventually, they mobbed me again and chatted for a long time, one guy can speak soso English, he served as an interpreter for us. A young woman started talking to me as i walked out from the shasylik place, she spoke English well and she claimed she taught herself, we exchanged emails, she wanted to write to me in English to practice.

From the bazaar I went to Lenina road and hailed a number 13 bus back to my homestay, it was the
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same bus i got on on my way here to town, i recognized the little boy attendant, the driver suddenly started lecturing me in Tajik for whatever i have doen I haven't a clue, everyone's eyes were on me, i said to him sorry English only and he stopped and muttered to himself,for whatever reason I must have upset him. Anyway i got back home safe and showed my host mom my photos of the day.
I felt asleep waiting for Beja, he and i went to the local banya to relax, there was no one there we have the place to ourselves, a steam room and a cold water pool. The steam room wasn't that good, after an hour soaking we finished and paid 20 somonis each (roughly$4.5), the attendant seemed bored, no people around. We walked towards the Khojand carnival park grounds, it is intensely hot and yet kids enjoy the rides, it is near the Syr Darya river, where there is a dove and airplane statues, we tried to get closer but only managed up to the dove. Beja then dropped me off at the bus stands as I wanted to return to the bazaar for a
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second look.

We parted ways he put me on a marshrutka to Panschanbe bazaar once again, he walked back to his small computer games shop. at the bazaar I walked back to the place where i got free grapes from an bought some this time, the women posed for another photo and gave me an address to send it to, Myio, Panschanbe bazaar, hmm i doubt it will make there. Left the bazaar and walked towards the statue of a certain Khomil Khojandi, and some weird buildings, I saw a waiting shed i flagged a marshrutka number 13 and got back to my homestay's neighborhood, wasted couple hours in the internet then walked back to the house and my host mom served some delicious plov and gave me some walnuts and sour cheese balls to snack on tomorrow in the share taxi back to Dushanbe. this family is so nice I will never forget their generosity and hospitality. Beja the 17 year old son of my host is determined to come to America and make a life there, I can only advise, it seems like every youth here wants to go abroad and they cant understand why I left
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my country to travel when i can make so much money working in America, to each his own.


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