Before I started my 7 month trip, I kind of figured that I’d have no trouble keeping myself busy during the weekdays, as I’d be working full time. However, I have to admit that I was somewhat wondering as to what would I wind up doing during the weekends in new places where I don’t know anybody.
Fortunately, now that I’ve spent a month and a half here, I can honestly say that I haven’t been bored. Aside from exploring the city and nearby areas, as well as an occasional nature outing, I was fortunate enough to find a few “youth discussion clubs”. In other words, these are informal get-togethers for local young people to meet and… talk.
I stumbled on the first one by accident – after checking out a culture center mentioned in the Lonely Planet chapter on Tajikistan. The first time I came there, there was a discussion taking place in a few hours, so I stuck around. It turned out to be a group of 5-10 people that meet pretty much every Saturday for discussions on various issues and topics. It turned out to be surprisingly interesting, so I wound up going there whenever I’m free that weekend.
From there, I met a few other people and was introduced to another discussion club – this time it was actually held entirely in English. The purpose of it was to help young adults from the area to practice English speaking and listening skills and talk about all types of issues in thee meantime. I had the opportunity to visit it this weekend and it turned out to be a lot of fun, as well. Fortunately, the topic was kind of interesting as well – prostitution 🙂 – so it raised some good discussions.
And from there, I got invited to another meet up that takes place during the week – to which I’ll be going in a few days.
So, these things have really been a great addition to my stay here. They are terrific opportunities to meet local people my age and spend a good time talking to each other, learning other points of views and just having a good time.
On a note of meeting new people, I also found that being here, under the current circumstances, opens you up to meeting people you’d never have a chance to meet to otherwise. I’ve been lucky to meet and have a chance to talk to a lot of really interesting and unusual people over the last few weeks. One day, you can spend a few hours drinking tea with your neighbor, while another meet a cyclist going from Europe to China and swap stories with each other, while on a third day, you can have dinner with an ex-pat Director of an International School, and so on.
So, even if nothing else, the people here alone have made the trip absolutely worthwhile.
Ahh… now if only I could find a cycling club here 🙂