Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 28, 2012

Elvira had offered to take me to the Dordoi Bazaar today as snow was predicted for tomorrow and I really needed to buy a pair of boots for the winter. My hiking boots, which had done fine by me in Dushanbe, seemed like no match for the amount of ice I was encountering on the streets and sidewalks. We agreed to meet across from the post office and ride the marshrutka from there.

The minibus we took had a complete set of seats and the driver waited until it was filled before departing. There were curtains on the windows, so I could see little of the landscape as we traveled about thirty minutes out of town to reach the market. For whatever reason, the minibuses travel inside the market creating complete gridlock and enough fumes to make one dizzy in seconds. I asked Elvira to get off the bus and walked the remaining paces just so I could breathe fresh air.

The scene was not a pretty one as the market consists of unadorned cargo containers, stacked two high sometimes, that have been fashioned into individual stalls with all the charm of an improvised flea market back home. All of them placed in a muddy field with no logical design or flow. Once we got into the labyrinthine bazaar itself, it became painfully clear to me that the temperature had dropped by about ten degrees as the place gets no sunlight whatsoever and I had brought no gloves.

I pitied all the vendors bundled in numerous layers, wearing gloves and pacing around or drinking tea to stay warm. I simply could not fathom what life would be like for them for the next four or five months. Everything I requested a quote for was more expensive than things were in Dushanbe and prices approximated those you’d find at Target or Ross back home. For example, a pair of dress pants was going for 1300 soms or $29.00.

                             A bazaar vendor displaying a camel-hair filled comforter

I zeroed in on finding a pair of lined boots that would suit my wide feet and have a zipper and after stopping at the third vendor found exactly what I wanted for only 1600 soms or $34.00. I reflected on the fact that these were my first pair of real dress boots as I had never been a fan of having my feet imprisoned in boots all day. How do you like them?

I had brought a long list of things I wanted to buy; however, I had forgotten how adverse I’m to shopping especially the going around and around from one stall to another to find exactly what I needed. Our search for a battery charger that didn’t include the batteries was a lost cause. We never got to the household section so I could find a colander and I just got extremely dizzy and told Elvira we needed to pause and have lunch or I was going to keel over. We found a Dungan place, very similar to the Uyghur’s, and had plov and fried lagman accompanied by plenty of tea to replenish me.

Elvira told me that Forum would like to see me stay for another year and perhaps utilize me at the teachers’ retraining center in the future. I told her it was outside of my control whether my fellowship was extended or not, but I’d be willing to stay if it was offered to me.

On the way out of the bazaar, I bought two turtleneck sweaters to give me more choices in layering my outfits and then finally some lamb meat for a curry I have been meaning to cook for some time now. Elvira bought some beautiful persimmons and then got me into the minibus headed straight to the Osh Bazaar. The minibus traveled through some really bleak areas that seemed part deserted, part dilapidated until we reached Chuy Avenue and I got off to walk the rest of the way.

It was nap time when I got home after calling Elvira to let her know I had made it to the flat with no problem at all. Managed to send the invitation to all the teachers and acquaintances in the area for the first book club meeting in less than two weeks. I’m going to be on pins and needles until the day comes as I have no idea how it’ll go.

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