First sled / Daily life
Rode my first Tajik sled today! The children of Garm were out in force with their rough wooden sleds, flying down the streets which are now well-packed with snow or covered in ice. They are a friendly bunch and even tried to sell me a sled and phone today. The littler ones were gaping as I put myself on the tiny sled and headed down the hill.
I am beginning to get in the rhythm of day-to-day life in Garm. It has resembled a picturesque mountain town in winter since I returned a week ago, with temps below freezing every night and a few inches of new snow every morning. I’m happy to be walking on snow rather than mud, and our coal-fired “pechka” does a fair job of heating the place, though staying warm at night still involves a comforter underneath a very thick, heavy blanket that is common in all Tajik homes.
Finding enough water to wash is an everyday challenge. Water pressure is low in the winter, partly because everyone leaves their taps open all the time to keep the pipes from freezing. Sometimes I have to ask the guard to close the outside tap so that water will flow, and even that is no guarantee. The backup is a large plastic bucket that is always kept full. But there is a system – the guard always keeps a big pot of hot water on his coal pechka, making the process of preparing to bath a bit easier.
Over at the office the problem is sometimes not cold but heat. The pechka puts out a lot of heat, and in a small office full of people it can make it very hot – still figuring out the best way to regulate the heat when the stove is cranking. But if you forget to let the office guard know that you are coming on the weekends, the first hour in the office is freezing. I had a meeting on Sat. morning and the fire had barely been started when my guest arrived. I apologized for the cold, but as I expected he said “No problem, we are used to that here.” Indeed they are, as every meeting I have been to in Garm has been in a cold office, everyone keeping their coats and hats on. For my guest and I, we kept our coats on, cupped our hands around hot cups of tea, and went on with our meeting…