Update: Auchan still not open

It’s now almost a month after French hypermarket Auchan was supposed to open in Dushanbe, and its doors are still shuttered. And despite claims that it had been importing products from Russia for the past year, a recent covert visit proved that shelves are still empty in the as-yet-unfinished store. Cops have formed a cordon around the store’s perimeter and are prohibiting opportunistic photo-takers (hi!) from grabbing any shots. The conglomerate is, however, hiring aggressively, and construction workers on the site say the new tentative opening date is sometime in the first week of May.

Taxis, and the tangled web of corruption in Tajikistan

Taxis, and the tangled web of corruption in Tajikistan

“Don’t get in his car! He’s only working for himself.” The bus attendant shakes a fist filled with small bills at a woman startled in the act of getting into a three-somoni taxi near a bus stop on Rudaki Avenue.

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Wild and uncompromising fame

In a strange twist of fate, Sher and I seem to have become Dushan-lebrities in the course of the past 72 hours, after I posted a short video we made about all the harassment we experience while running. Since the video went live on Monday, it’s been watched almost 9,000 times by Dushanbinci. Take a look for yourself here.

You can also like the We Run Dushanbe Facebook page.

Supermarket theory

Supermarket theory

Auchan is the WalMart of Europe, Russia and East Asia, known for prices so low they literally cannot be beat, by any competitor. The supermarket’s name recognition soared during the recent tension between Turkey and Russia, when it was pegged as a key link in the Turkish military supply chain: “Every Turkish tomato bought at Auchan…is a contribution towards the next rocket to be fired at our guys,” ranted top Putin advisor Gennady Onishchenko in November, calling for a ban on Turkish imports.

Now look down here, a bit south, on the steppes:
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This happens every day here

It was his first time at the ATM.
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Everything is going to hell

Every night when the sun goes down and every morning when it comes up the crow orchestra starts. There didn’t use to be this many of them. But now–while they don’t exactly crowd out the sun, they do manage to make a god-awful biphasic racket.

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Clinical hospitality

Clinical hospitality

I am in line to have my blood drawn at an HIV clinic on the outskirts of Dushanbe with seven or eight other people. Two women with leopard-print head scarves in slightly different patterns of leopard-print are working hard to distract a fretful year-old child with feverish cheeks firmly encased in a powder-blue snow parka and matching tasseled hat.

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Going to the fun park

Going to the fun park

This was the day I tried nos.

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