So, since this is officially my 5th day in Dushanbe and I figured that I’m almost a local, it would be only appropriate to go ahead and share a bit about what it’s like to be here. It’s still only the beginning, so the information is somewhat general. I’ll do it in a couple of short bits and pieces:
Is The President Really My Neighbor?
It’s true – he lives virtually next door to me… almost. Dushanbe is a pretty small city in general, and has one main avenue going through the entire place – Prospekt Rudaki. From what I’ve been told, virtually everything worth seeing is located within 10-15 minutes of walking from this avenue.
My small little apartment is based right on Prospekt Rudaki, so technically I’m right in on all of the action. The Presidential Palace – where he works – is just a few blocks away from me and his actual residence is relatively close, as well. It’s kind of heart-warming to think that maybe, just maybe, I’ll even get a chance to run in to him the next time I, say, go to the supermarket 🙂
So, How Do You Live?
It’s no presidential palace, but I have to admit – I think I have it better off that most of the other Kiva Fellows that are in the field right now. The Administrator of the Micro-Finance Institution found a pretty nice place that I’m proud to call my home for the next 10 weeks. I’ve included a little slideshow below for your viewing pleasure – the building is a bit shabby, but from what I’ve seen, most of the buildings here have seen their better days, so mine is no exception.
One of the things that will probably take the longest to get used to here is the way that people address one another – whether you are at work or just out and about. Although the business environment is very casual at our office, everybody always addresses you on a formal “Vi” basis (not even what the analogy in English is … perhaps, Mr.?). It’s not that strange whether older people do it, but it’s definitely unusual when people your age approach you in such a way and you are expected to do the same.
In terms of technology access, things have been surprisingly decent. I think that I’m lucky to be in the capital where Internet is more or less available at the office and a couple of cafes and electricity seems to be fairly decent. From what I’ve heard, most places outside of the city have had their electricity cut significantly (some had none for the last 15 days).
That being said, amusing situations certainly do present themselves. A couple of days ago, we got a brand new fax machine at the office – first one ever. After everybody got excited and we got everything setup, we suddenly faced an interesting dilemma. There was no way to test the machine because there was nobody to send a fax to!
Work-wise, things have been quite interesting.
On the first day, I came into the office, got a brief tour of the place, had a conversation with their Operations Manager regarding Kiva and how it fits into their business, sat down at my table and had my first: “What Do I Do Now?” moment 🙂
Fortunately, that moment passed quickly. I knew that although I have a number of deliverables to accomplish over my 10-week period for Kiva, this experience is all about what you make of it.
Funny enough, one of my major assignments here (as requested by the organization) will be to do English-language lessons to the staff. Everybody seems incredibly excited about having these lessons and the management seems to be taking it quite seriously, as they are willing to allocate staff time each day to these courses.
The problem is that… I don’t really have any idea on how to actually teach English. I’m not even sure how I learnt it myself. Looks like tomorrow, I’ll be spending a day on Google on trying to pick up some lesson plans and figure this out by Monday.
Next week or so, I’ll also begin on going out to the field and meeting Kiva borrowers. I think that will be a very interesting experience to see how micro-finance has been affecting people on an individual level. As things progress, I’ll definitely start posting more about the actual work.
But for now, my Internet time is up and I think it’s time to go and grab a cup of tea – or, to be more accurate of how it’s done here, a whole teapot.