day 4: strong state, clean streets

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The first thing I noticed about Dushanbe was even before I landed. We were flying over the city to land on the airport and I only saw proper houses and clean streets. Everything seemed so correct, I didn´t see any chaotic construction works or shanty towns or something that seemed sloppy. It was just a feeling – I was just looking from above, close up everything could be different.

Now I´ve been strolling through the streets of Dushanbe and all I see is very, very clean streets, people washing their cars, theis carpets in front of their houses and even cleaning the street with water. I don´t see any garbage lying around, there are no street dogs or street cats – all things I´m used from travelling in mostly hot countries. I couldn´t really understand why Tajikistan is different from the streets of India or Guatemala. Even the traffic is slow here, there is only few cars (yes, I know, the country is very poor) and there is no traffic jams and not a lot more people are honking than back home in Austria. I was surprised.

Last night I sat down with a Norwegian working here in town since 2 years and I told him my observation. Right away he said: „Strong state, clean streets.“ I was baffled. The government of Tajikistan is strong in the sense that they want to control the country and have a straight plan for the future. That sounds good, but in some ways they go against the country itself: muslims for example. To ban the threat of islamic extrimism, the government forbid that people under 18 go to the mosque. They ban the headscarf because they say it´s un-tajik. Only the official Hanafi-Islam is accepted.

So let´s see, „strong state, clean streets“ is in my mind now…

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About Michaela Krimmer

35, anthropologist, Austrian, female

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