Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28th

I admit I had a bit of a scare there in the middle of my Tajik adventures. Well, it wasn't a life-threatening scare or even one that made my heart pound fast and my blood run cold. It was just an instance where I felt like I had no control over what was happening to me and that all the steam I had initially put into my Tajik experience might puff out in one quick blow.

The source of my anxiety was my visa-- just one week from expiring and there was no certain way of extending it in sight. The woman on whom I was relying was out of resources, there was no place in Khujand to get it done, and an envelope (holding an American Passport) might 'get lost' in the mail on the way to Dushanbe. Also, the only possible way for any American Embassy to grant my extension was if the Waldorf School issued a letter (with the official stamp of approval) requesting my stay, but some voice in the head of the Director told her that the longer I stayed the more problems I (might) create with the government (since I have no teaching certificate) so she refused to write a letter. There was almost no option for me but to pack my small little suitcase and leave the country (there are stories of deportations to Uzbekistan when visitors over-extend their stay, but I'm not so sure about that). Anyway, I was about lost, and it was really the first time I have ever I felt like I had no say in the course my life was taking.

It almost astonishes me how sad I was those days. I had made my friends, established my routines, made plans to go to the Theater, and perform in concerts. Even I was a bit angry as well: at the Tajik Government for making a simple visa extension so hard, at myself for having to rely so much on other people (most especially for translation) and just at the pure fact that there was nothing I could do to get what I wanted. The tangles I would have to loosen to change my ticket on such short notice would also be hard to deal with.

And then by chance (though really, it was too good a happening to be any chance occurrence), on the way home from eating 'Krutob' (a favorite cheesy almost Mexican-tasting dish) with Canyon and some friends, I met Farid. I remember it too well. He was the best dressed person I'd seen around, with sunglasses and one of those small-brimmed hats worn back to reveal his uncommon curly hair. I noticed his distinct (and quite Italian) appearance before he got on the microbus, but forgot in an instant when other drama caught my attention: the microbus had suddenly stopped, the driver had gotten out and was running across the road where another, fortunately passenger-less, microbus was in flames. Canyon and I watched in amazement as all the cars stopped and the men (no women) ran, with their small water bottles and moldy rags in hand, to the aid of the other driver.

And then Farid interrupted us too interested spectators with his southern drawl, 'So where are y'all from.'

I was so surprised and the first words just fell out of my mouth. 'I knew you weren't Tajik!' I said almost too excitedly. It just went from there. He is, in fact, Tajik, just one of those few people who was able to plow through restrictions of both Tajik and US governments to go and study for a few years in the Alabama. (It has quite obviously affected his appearance, although the curls are still very rare amongst Tajiks.) He asked how long we were staying (it was days before Canyon left--he had decided not to extend his visa) and I told him my story. And then he was offering to help me--he had 'connections' he assured me--and two weeks (and $130 later) later I had a new one month visa in hand.

It's crazy how life falls into place. Things have always seemed to turn out okay in my past nineteen years and it was the first time that I had ever given up total hope but as things go, I still got what I wanted, and another adventure as well, for Farid turned out to be my brother in my new host family. But that's really another story for another time.

1 comment:

Butterscotch said...


I have enjoyed reading your blogs and hearing about your adventures. I'm betting your worldview has shifted a bit in the past year-now perhaps you will have finally seen that Offaly is a finer place than Kilkenny! We hope to see you some time in the New Year.