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October 30, 2002

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Our flat seduces us with hot water, a bathtub, and satellite TV. It's difficult to leave it this morning and explore Dushanbe. This city, like no other we've seen in Central Asia, flashes with color because the women wear velvet dresses and robes made with every color and design. From a civil war that raged for years after independence from the Soviet Union, the Tajiks are too war weary to treat tourists with overt attention. We walk through the streets without turning heads. We ride a bus to a nearby village, Hissar, and see men and women pray by mimicking a face washing motion, running their hands down their faces and clasping them in front of their chests.
Dushanbe treats the eye with a few nice monuments and buildings yet there isn't much to do here besides eat at the few restaurants in town.
It's more interesting to see Tajik women dressed to the nines.
The Tajiks are reserved yet friendly when you talk to them. A Tajik woman took us off the bus and led us around Hissar. We saw a fort, madrassa, and mausoleum, but the memory that will stick is the true hospitality shown by this Tajik woman, who could only communicate with us in Russian, who watched over us, made sure we paid fair prices, and even chipped in a few Somani herself to see the museum and pay for a taxi.
The 18th century fortress and medressas of Hissar
Christmas shopping in Dushanbe, a different experience from Bloomingdales.