Thursday, March 29, 2007

Flying Thoughts or Thinking Flights


Trying to adjust myself into a small and narrow Russian plane seat, revoltingly uncomfortable one, while a balding man in front of me starts pushing his seat backwards right on my knees straight away after getting aboard. I respond by pushing it back, but it doesn’t disturb his comfort a bit. Even the captain’s announcement about keeping the seats upright before taking off is not able to deserve his attention...

By now I must be flying over Kazakhstan or perhaps farther. The crew are not too keen to inform their passengers what’s going on out there.

I have lost the count of my flights back and forth. Usually seeing wet eyes of my beloved ones before leaving my lovely homeland makes me feel guilty as I feel right now. This morning Mum’s eyes saw me off as far as I disappeared behind a building. She’s the one who makes me truly re-think my prolonged stay in London: is there any point of living without her beside me, without her caring touch and loving pair of eyes?..

Until my last breath in Dushanbe before getting aboard I could smell corruption and dirty money: beggars in uniform have spread their web widely throughout the city, desperate taxi drivers mistaking me for a foreigner and trying their best to fool me around, common people speaking of additional (let them be illegal) ways of earning. Money is the main topic to talk about, to take a toast for, and to think thoroughly of. Liberties? Democracy? Oh please, we can survive without them, but not without money!

At Dushanbe airport my eyes caught a border guard aggressively following a man into a toilet. He closed the door behind himself, but I opened it after a while and saw him grabbing a bunch of banknotes taken out of the passenger’s inside pocket. He put them into his own pocket and left the toilet hastily, but happy…

Two guys sitting beside me are tilting towards my laptop and looking at each other with something close to horror in their eyes before saying: look at this weirdo who was reading a Tajik paper, before asking the stewardess for something in Russian, but now he’s typing something in a strange language.

An impolite rude Russian stewardess is distributing immigration cards among us. She is doing it in a way that makes me assume we killed her father or gang-banged her yesterday. The guys beside me need her help to fill in their forms that contain a couple of simplest questions. It takes them about half an hour to accomplish a ‘mission impossible’. Still, they cannot believe in their own incredible success and ask the stewardess to check the application forms for them. She looks at the papers arrogantly and throws them back on their dining tables and goes on checking everybody else’s immigration cards. It makes me drop my poor head in my hands in despair.

Before getting on board three guys were thrown out of the queue down to its tail by a Tajik border guard just in order to make a way for a Russian-looking man and whoever else did not look like a typical Tajik. The same happens when these miserable guys enter their own country. Border guards prefer to check in and out “dear guests” first and then poor owners of the country, before emptying their Russian-stricken pockets once more.

In Moscow the picture looks identical: first Russians and non-Tajiks, then Tajiks. It happens mechanically as if it’s the only way to get through airport doors. These Tajiks lack the feeling of being home. They are neither hosts nor guests at any airport of the world. Their pathetic guilty looks and obvious complex of inferiority make others feel superior, just the way the Russian behave in London.

Certainly, not everything was painted in black. Dushanbe embraced me with its beautiful rainy and sunny spring weather and Nowruzi festive mood. However, a dearest person’s demise ruined it up to the end of my stay. Seeing my adorable family and fantastic friends had been my pink dream for almost two years and I succeeded to do so. This trip re-connected me to the realities of my homeland, and as far as I can feel now, recharged my exhausted mind to strive for more changes, to believe in our power to build a brighter future, despite the fact that most of our hopes have been ruined so far.

By the way, Mr Rahman had mistaken when he’d said Islam Karimov looked like his gone father. When I saw him on the 21st of March waving to his people with a self-satisfied look I was amazed how strikingly similar to Brezhnev he looked. His stature, his smile, his brows and his waving hand painfully reminded me the old late man. And of course, the similarity does not except their mindsets.


Anonymous said...

What do you think Darius when my dear nation will change it's mentality?

Anonymous said...

You went through the similar exercise you described in your post once a year or once in two years, if you feel desparate to come back to your land to embrace your beloved ones and to breath the fresh air of your land.

But unfortunately,for 60% if not for 80% of those passangers,who were sitting in that plane to leave their sunny land for a cold place, it is the exercise for which they have to pass endless exams untill they found the lowest paid jobs and worse places to live in their new residance called mother Russia, regardless what occupation they had back home-a professor in KhoGU or a cook in Rohat. They come from Kulyab, Khujand, Aini,Bokhtar and mostly from Pamirs and other regions of Tajikistan to fly to Moscow because they have no chances to earn money in a landlocked, isolated place to feed their kids.

For the third party this exercise is the favorite one,they wish it could go on and on and on, i mean for the officials working in the airport. You might notice in Dushanbe, when you were there for a while some children in the streets begging, which was so rear in the past but other children heading happy life, which is a good sign. Looking at their background, where they get their cars to come to school, who pays for their mobile phones, which they have two-one for getting in touch with their parents and the other for fun and many other luxuries, you may discover that these are the children of those corrupted officials who are "fortunate" enough to make money inside the country corrupting poor people in all possible ways. For instance freeing the pockets of passangers without even blushing. This favorite exercise of them happens not only in the airport, but also in the border lines with Uzbekistan, China and Afghanistan. We need years to fight this and only by the ways when the bright minds will wish to come back to Tajikistan to light the way for the lost nation. Who knows when they wish to do so? Are you ready to come back?

I know what do you mean by saying good bye to your mum. She is the dearest and holiest person for you. But years are passing your own kids are growing you have to educate them, to take care of them, to give them love and happiness, so you have no choice but to say good bye and to leave, back to work,make money to build a future for your children. And this is the way we should do this.It happens to many of us and can you imagine the scenario, when a mum leave her child to make money to pay back for the education of her child in the corrupted Tajik institutions. Mother teachers go to Russian,mother doctors go to Afghanistan and Iraq the toughest places to work for the sake of the better life of their children, whose conditions they may not know back at home, as they can not get in touch with them for months from the isolated places like Samangan or Qaraquzi?

This is our current situation and we have to live with this, as there is no will for people to make a revalution of a particular color or to get back to the war. And they are right at the moment.
One voice is not a voice.

Tolerance is a bitter thing but it might have a sweet fruit.

Let us see, where the democracy and freedom of our state will lead us. As of today, Tajik men try to avoid their nationality and
Tajik women escape the freedom of dress code they have in Tajikistan they work in Afghanistan or Iraq under the veil as free women.

Let us see what our nation will decide to escape tomorrow?

Darius said...

Dear Anonymous 2. Thank you so much for your extensive viewpoint shared with me. But you expressed a vision that I really loath. You make me moarn the dead willpower and freedom-fighting spirit of my nation, when you say: "This is our current situation and we have to live with this". You make me fear the distorted mentality and lack of healthy approach in many when you state: "...there is no will for people to make a revolution of a particular color or to get back to the war. And they are right at the moment." As if the only way to change one's life lies through bloodshed. I utterly detest the motto "One voice is not a voice", since throughout the history we can see how solo voices could spread around louder than the noise of a roaring croud; sole voices that rocked the world just by whispering a word in the darkness and writing it down on a piece of paper. And I dislike those "Tajik men that try to avoid their nationality", since they are not doing any great job for neither themselves nor their nation. They are just betraying the hopes of our ancestors by doing nothing, and to make it worse, by distancing themselves from a stricken nation. What I truly want to say is that we have to put aside all our complexes, listen to what people say about us with an open mind, pin-point our mistakes and misfortunes and try to cure them: everyone in her/his own manner. By merely saying that "Dushanbe is the most beautiful city of the world" you will never see the city flourishing. By reiterating that "we live in a free, democratic, independent, secular, law-based Tajikistan" the country will never experience any of these states. Thus, we just have to forget bragging about our past and try to think of our today and tomorrow. We have to speak out about our shameful points of life and never be satisfied with whatever we have achieved. Un-satisfaction is a key to a greater success.

Once more, dear Anonymous 2, thanks a lot for dropping in.

And dear Anonymous 1, I hope you can find an answer to your question in the above sayings too, although it is not maths to give an absolute answer to that kind of questions.

Anonymous said...

Dear friend,

Thanks for your responses and sorry for mine that made your heart to cry. You know my friend “This is our current situation and we have to live with this, as there is no will for people to make a revolution of a particular color or to get back to the war. And they are right at the moment. One voice is not a voice”. I was telling “at the moment” because we are not ready yet to raise our voice and marsh for a revolution, as no doubt everybody will be caught by police and will be jailed or kept in police stations until their relatives will come back to pay corrupted policemen for their freedom, but “in the future” I hope with braver hearts and sober minds we can bring some changes without shedding a drop of blood. You may wonder what is the duration of “at the moment” I mean? I tell you perhaps we will wait and tolerate another three-five to live with such conditiones if no mre than that.

I will tell you also why I think one voice is not a voice, here in Tajikistan. Recently Turajonzoda the former opposition leader called for amnesty for the jailed people who killed and disfigured their brothers during the fratricidal war. He brought their message to the attention of Tajik people as their families and children were left without providers and they apologize for their deeds. The other day the residents of Rudaki district raised their voice protesting against the amnesty: “Why those prisoners should be freed, while they made our fathers, brothers, husbands and relatives to dig graves for themselves first and than shoot them during those dreadful days? Do they think that thousands of mothers whom they left widows with 5 to 6 children are living the happiest life and whom they left without providers forever?”.
It was not one voice but a voice of a crowd which was totally ignored by district authorities and I am sure you know more examples of one Tajik voice and a voice of a Tajik crowd better than I do. I am sure if I with my only voice or even if with the voice of a group of people will come to express ourselves “at the moment” our voice will be buried instead of heard. And I agree with you, in other places around the world a solo voice works wonders and it may do so in our land too in the future but not “at the moment”!

Another point;You dislike those Tajik men who avoid their nationalities and what do you think about Tajik men who avoid to bear their names and surnames that they did for seven decades, as so did our Rahmon recently?. Certainly, we should bear our ancestors’ types of names. We still depend from Russia and it could be done more wisely rather than to attract the attention of media that made the life of those passengers who traveling with you harder.This action irritated Russians, who are becoming even ruder with Tajiks than that stewardess you met in the airplane. We are not yet ready to react normally to “Tajik surprises”.

I doubt that we will “never see Dushanbe flourishing” as you stated. Never say Never. We may not see but our children and grandchildren may see a prosperous city, you never know. By the way I was introduced today to an American friend of him, who traveled a lot and he told me that: Tajikistan is the most beautiful place, he discovered so far. It is always more important what others think about you rather than what do you think about yourself. For other folks Dushanbe is the most beautiful place. Isn’t it interesting that even Paul Bergner( thanks for posting it above) who is no more among us and who traveled a lot and spoke so many languages devote a book to Tajikistan? I would describe Dushane “shahri dilrabo”-(city that steal one’s heart), despite all its ruins.

“Dissatisfaction is a key to a great success”- I like it. I also enjoy thinking about tomorrow rather than yesterday as we can not change yesterday it is passed. It is our history. Another day I passed today and was not satisfied with my work. I close my eyes, concentrate on what I did and think I could do it better and I promise to myself I will do it better tomorrow and I know tomorrow I will not be satisfied with my work again.

Anyway, I should confess that since I found out your Blog, I visit it frequently and find interesting contents in it.

Thanks again and take care

Darius said...

Dear Anonymous 2 (sorry for not knowing your name),

Thanks for brightening up my day today. If your first message “made my heart cry”, your second message had an entirely opposite effect on me. It’s terrific to see that there are still some people who seem concerned of their nation’s fate and try to scrutinize relevant questions analytically.

Nevertheless, I’m still prone to reject your statement that “this is our current situation and we had to live with it.” If you have to live with something you detest, the situation is going to remain the same for you and your offspring will endure it for another century to come. The solution is not dragging unwilling people to the streets, but rather making them see the roots of their problems and realize that some kind of change is inevitable and must be done by them. Spreading socio-political and economic awareness among the masses and broadening their world-view is the simplest way to bring a change about with no drop of blood pouring on Tajik soil. Problems must be said aloud and their possible solutions must be pointed out on every suitable occasion. The ploughing of the mind is the foremost step to be taken in that purpose.

Actually, I have never said that “we will never see Dushanbe flourishing.” What I really said in my previous posting is actually what we say in Persian “ba halwa guftan dahan shirin nameshavad” (you can’t sweeten your mouth by merely saying “halwa”). On the other hand, even in that famous saying “Never say never” the word “never” has been used inevitably. That means you can never say “never say never”. Such a paradigm of philosophical complexity!

Those foreigners like Paul Bergne who fell in love with Tajikistan were mesmerized by intactness, humbleness and hospitality of its people and by natural beauty of the land. And whoever I knew out of them, including late Bergne, were not fascinated by drowsy Tajik politics, dreadful statesmen and impotent opposition. One of them who’s still alive and unwilling to be known for his similar views said to me recently: “Unfortunately, Tajiks are fast asleep and kept in darkness.”

As for Rahman’s name-change, I’ve spoken out my opinion in Eurasianet. I do support the idea of Tajiks getting back to their own style of names, but again, they should do so willingly, not on a royal order. Anyway, seven decades is much less than thousands of years of our history. But Rahman’s abrupt and demonstrative announcement about his own decision followed by immediate comic obedience of the state media could cause problems for the image of the country.

Unsatisfied with the stance of the things in Tajikistan I will remain and convinced more than before that something ought to happen, if we want to leave a better legacy for our children.

Many thanks indeed and all the best,

Anonymous said...

Hi D,
Thanks for your views.
"Unsatisfied with the stance of the things in Tajikistan I will remain and convinced more than before that something ought to happen, if we want to leave a better legacy for our children"

I am trying to learn the language of Tajik children, so one day I can be able to translate their words to my nation to aware it what the next generation wants and how it wants to live.
And again “that something ought to happen” is when? This year? Next? After one decade? ….
What do you think the best inheritance we can leave for our children? Only words? We are all so good to put words in all possible beautiful promising ways but are we able to revive our words?

By the way soon the International Children's Day will be celebrated in various countries worldwide and in Tajikistan too. Why we can not start to leave better legacy for a child with something good from today instead of waiting for tomorrow. Or we think let UNICEF and Save the Children take care of our children? These institutions are downsizing day by day and whom we will rely on further? Rely on the new child agencies to come? We are the new ones!

Maybe we can change the life of a child somewhere in Tajikistan for whom our deeds may remain as a legacy. If we can change a life of a soul for better side, we can change the life of a nation too! Please let me know if you have any ideas in this regard so we can put our words into actions!

Anon 2.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anon 2. Thanks for popping in again. Sorry to appear as Anon too. The comment box was stubbornly kicking me out this time. As you can see, sometimes we are not welcome even in our own house. lol

Slightly you are getting what I mean. I do not approve the game of words, political and social chitter-chatters and rant with no deed. In order to stick to the opposite approach, perhaps, something is being done here.

As for children, I reckon the change must start from your own child, then spread around your entire family, then your neighborhood and so on and so forth. We must try to change their environment into something more humane, coherent and logical to replace the present brutal, irrelevant and deeply traditional atmosphere that prevails in many of our families. We must try to bring them up with a pure love to humanity, with national dignity and a thirst to strive for achieving more than before; with a mission to emancipate their minds, make up their views, speak out their opinion with no fear. And most importantly, with a profound ability to produce novelty, to bring about a new thought, untold axioms rather than translating foreign thoughts only.

So, now it's your turn to elaborate your ideas on the topic.


Anonymous said...

Hi D,

I know you are damn busy but you find time to open your blog every day after your hard working hours and you are luckier than me as you have 24 hours access to power and internet. I am a bit deprived in this regard.

Now you can tell why I appear as an Anon 2. The box didn’t accept my name without my email address and I decided to land anonymously into a Thought-LandLords’ space. Sorry, that your own doors were closed to your own self while you wanted to come back to me. It happens never mind. The world of technology can do anything to you whether you want it or not!

What do you mean by ”something is being done here” Where? Indeed, I am slightly getting what do you mean? My English comprehension must be not so good!

As for children: That’s right a change should start from your own child. I look to every child through the lens of my own child regardless of its gender, religion and race. To me a child is a child and it needs to be given what it needs during its childhood wherever he is and whoever he is. Care. Love, Hope, Motivation, Support, Right and so on.

How best we can change the environment of our children? I don’t think that we must change their environment to something more humane and change deeply their traditional atmosphere. I must say that we are quite happy that we Tajiks are living in better family environments in compare to other folks. I think that our children are bringing more fruits for their parents rather than parents bring for their children. In today’s Tajikistan the government is paying only 30-40somonis (10-20US$) to retired people, which is not enough for one day proper food with the ever growing prices we have here, but thanks to their children most of the old people are living in good conditions. In many parts of the world old people are ignored by their own children. With us Tajiks it is unacceptable!

But see the situation when it comes to us to the parents: Sometimes we Tajiks can not wait for our children to grow to speak and we intervene to their own life by hurting them even physically and leaving them traumatized like by piercing our baby-girls’ ears to wear golden earrings. Even if it sounds a normal thing, to me this is an inhumane act towards our children. Let them grow and decide what they want!

Which traditional atmosphere we must change? I think that we live in a very good traditional atmosphere but traditions turned to modern traditions almost all over the country. Children are aware what is going on in the world. They know that life without money is impossible, of what we did not even think in our childhood. Their childhood is changed. They want to bring money home and honestly. ( There are some exceptions of course). Every single child wants to show its talent. They come from the remote areas and start building their lives in the city. We have many talented children but they have no support and motivation. I now it is hard to support every and each vulnerable child materially but we can at least support them spiritually. Motivation is the most important thing for a child to be given and we can do it without loosing a penny but we adults do not take it seriously.

See when it come to us to the parents: Our child like Manija Davlatova (even though she is no more a child but for the nation she remains a child) brought a good name back to us to Tajiks but we instead criticizing her for her every move, step and appearance we can.
There many people who improve by critics but there are many more who can not stand it and they need to be approached other way not to be hurt. For me she is a genuine talent and we must motivate her in all possible ways to appear again and to surprise the crowd as she did back in Afghanistan. It was such a brave move! In the Islamic country like Afghanistan I saw her pictures more than I saw of Karzai’s or Ahmadsho’s, certainly in the Northern part of Afghanistan and Kabul- I should tell.

Our today’s traditional environment changed in many ways. Let see in the area of sport. In Tajik traditions for a female to raise voice is not favored by man leave apart a female who goes for sport. Football is perhaps the sport that makes nations to be known to the greater world but we should not wait for the Tajik football command to go for the tournament in the World Cup. As for football we Tajiks are so “good” that we turned a Nigerian striker Kingsley to a Tajik pop-singer. But the doors of sport clubs are open for all equally in Tajikistan for boys and girls. Shahlo Muhammadraimova whose father wanted to see his daughter as a tailor brought a Golden Medal back to Tajikistan from Slovenia recently and not for the best costume design show. She is the first Tajik female Taekwondo player that became WORLD CHAMPION in the ITF Taekwondo.

Yes, you may think ok Anon 2 come on, these two talents only, but not there are many more talented Tajik children and individuals with the hidden talents who may astonish the world one day! There are many more ways of novelties we can change our environment for a better place for all of us to live!!!

Take care and talk to you soon my D!

Darius said...

Hi Anon 2,

Actually I am not enjoying 24/7 Internet access either. At least not at the moment. I just like polemical discussions of this kind and so far I can see a good speaker and listener in you. Hence I prefer to get back as soon as possible. But your latest posting reached me a bit later, since my weblog had been forgotten by me for that inhospitable attitude towards its owner the other day.

I stick to my opinion that the atmosphere and especially the traditional one must be altered profoundly for our children. We have to change our approach to our children. Every child is not considered a mere child by him/herself. They tend to acquire a distinguishable personality from the very dawn of their lives. In our society that innocent strife is still being oppressed and suffocated. We (the society) like them to gaze vaguely like a sheep, with no hassle created by their activities, no questions to be asked. “Just-shut-up-and-sit-down” approach is not going to “bring more fruits for their children.” It will bring up dull stupid robotic type of people who would not care a damn about anything out of his own house. That results in “Nasha Rossiya” style descriptions of Tajiks abroad. To be precise, you and I have different understandings of the topic. You want our children to be more inward-looking as they are today, but I want us to be more outward-looking, more involved in societal affairs, more concerned of the stance and image of our nation in the world, more aware of the very image in reality, more helpful to create a better image via facilitating our own lives in the country. All of this depends on our awareness self-esteem. I don’t want my children to sit just by my side until I take in my last breath. They belong not only to me; first and foremost, they belong to my nation. Hence, they must take care of their Motherland as well as they take care of their mother and father. Our traditionalist lifestyle does not encourage it. It’s too narrow and simplistic. It does not tolerate questioning; otherwise one could be named “shakkok” or outcast. It’s too defensive for it is too feeble and uncertain. It’s afraid of other life-styles, just because it’s aware of its unattractive weak nature.

And you have complemented my allegation by putting forward more examples. The way Manija was treated, they way children are manipulated, and that people are more financially motivated with no proper knowledge how to achieve that fortune… indicates the necessity of a deep and far-stretching change in our culture. I am not suggesting that our traditions as a whole are an obstacle to our progress. However, I do insist that some parts of them are lethal and suicidal and must be put aside and forgotten for good.

And we have to stop bragging. We to boast about have created nothing lately. Modesty makes sense in this respect. “Hidden talents”, if they truly exist, must unhide and come out, since coming out needs some extent of talent as well. Even after that we have to restrain from reacting arrogantly and bluffing. Let others see and tell what they think of us: “Mushk on ast, ki xud bibuyad, Ne on ki attorash biguyad.”

Thus, we have almost nothing left of our past glory. But a healthy reaction to this bad news must be encouraging and creative. First, we have to acquaint ourselves with realities, before undertaking any adventure. Then good news might follow.

All the best,