I had a remarkable day. After morning classes, we went out of the city and I shared in a veritable feast with the men of the village. There must have been 20 of us, siting Tajik style on the floor, with more food spread out in front of us that I have seen in a long time. It was expained to me that I was participating in a Mulsim tradition for a deseased member of the village. This feast takes place in intervals of one week, 21 days, one month, 6 months, and then one year after the death of a loved one. It was a rich feast of Osh, meats, fruits, vegetables and sweets.
After this meal we went to the home of Mr. Nurali, and English teacher from my school. Here again was another feast. The family showed me how Tajik bread was baked by pressing the dough on the inside of a wood-fired oven. Like everthing there, it was delicious.
As the meal went on, leaders and educators of the community came and joined us. We ate and shared some vodka as the men cited Tajik poetry about friendship and hospitality. With Tojiddin acting as our translator, I had a remarkable conversation with these men. We shared information about our countries, culture, and history. What surprised me the most was their negative attitude toward former Soviet leader Gorbachev. Gorbachev, theylamented, was responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union, an even they considered a major calamity. As stated earlier, the Soviet Union provided Tajiks with stability and an social infrastructure. After its demise, inequality
and crime increased (although crime was declined since the 1990s). I saw abandoned factories in ruin and the roads were in need of repair. I was told that during the Soviet Union water, electricity, gas, and even air-conditioning were stable. It’s amazing how travel can open us up to view events from more than just the perspective we are accustomed to.