The little things
It’s the small things that really make the experience. As our little Niva climbed uphill through the green fields of Askalon jamoat, I noticed a donkey and two boys. One boy on top of the donkey, and one standing. As we drove past, the boy standing attempted to climb onto the donkey behind his friend, but he didn’t quite make it. After a moment’s rest he tried again…and again…and again. It really belonged in an old comedy, but there it was, theater right in front of us.
Later in the day, our rugged little Niva descended a few hundred meters to allow us to pick up a mobile phone signal. As we reached the village of Sharho, we looked across the Suhrob Valley and it was as if the town of Garm was underwater. An opaque, flat cloud layer was directly across from us at eye level, just at the snow line of the mountains ringing Garm. Below it, all was in shadow, and the dark green of the hills added to the watery effect. Above the clouds, the snow clad mountains reached upward to another set of clouds, these lighter and larger, hovering near the peaks. This may often here, but it felt like a rare atmospheric event.
Tajiks take care of their guests, and our night in Kul was no exception. It’s sometimes a combined effort – one home feeds the guests, and another gives them a place to sleep. After our feast of soup and partridge (yes, partridge), we were escorted along the muddy road to our lodgings. Three of our team was on the outer porch area, and four of us inside. Each person has a bed of two korpechas (long cushions), two or three large pillows (Tajik homes have many pillows), and all covered by a blanket as thick as the cushions. Being the foreigner and team leader, I was invited to sleep on the one bed in the room. I accepted but was a little skeptical if the bed would be as comfortable as the typical korpecha-on-the-floor arrangement. Sure enough, there was a catch. The bed had a sharp ridge in the middle which was not compensated by the cushions. Although I did not want to appear ungrateful for the bed, there was no question that I wanted to be on the floor. One of my colleagues was willing to take the bed, and we all drifted off to sleep.