Sometimes it's necessary to get out of this place, even if it's just for a couple of days. A couple of friends invited me to come with them to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, shortly after the Afghan presidential election. It was a nice break. We could walk around or ride local taxis freely, the city was clean and orderly and I didn't have to wear a scarf. We spent the time exploring, eating good food and taking pictures just for fun.
Above, a boy tries to stay warm while drip-drying after a swim in the Varzob River.
My friend Jon sits in the Soviet-esque apartment the three of us rented next to Secret Police headquarters, after one of our long jaunts around town.
At night the streets of the city are nearly empty, except for impromptu police checkpoints, where officers try to shake-down passing motorists for bribes.
The language is Tajik, very similar to Farsi, but they use the Cyrillic alphabet to write. Dushanbe feels like a capital still in transition: a strong Soviet presence and infrastructure with a developing Tajik identity.
A fruit vendor rubs her eyes at the Green Market.
In a park near the Dushanbe Opera.
The Soviet seal at a monument for those who died during World War II.
People know how to drive in Dushanbe. They even stop at red lights.
Tajikistan, a former Soviet Republic, has maintained close ties to Russia culturally, economically and politically, and I sensed a bit of nostalgia for the days of the great empire. Now Tajikistan is just a small under-developed fish in an ocean.
This is the back of the apartment block where we stayed.
I like this picture best. She has an interesting face.
A group of dudes hanging out by the river after a swim.
The saddest bear I have ever seen at the Dushanbe Zoo.
I'm not sure if the billboard photograph of tulips is to help prevent road rage or just to beautify the city, but I like it!