And suddenly, it was time to bid our farewells. Xair, Tajikistan. Salem, Kazakhstan!

As we were finally settling into our work patterns, both all too soon and not soon enough, it was time to bid our farewells to our home of the last three months. We were, of course, excited about the veritable paradise that Almaty promised to be, but before we left, there were all sorts of goodbyes that needed to be said. About a week and a half before our departure, Maki got the ball rolling by giving a final presentation at the American Corner about his research and what he studied, which I sadly could not attend. We celebrated afterwards at Public Pub, site of one of our first evenings out in Dushanbe. Since we were joined by a recent arrival in Tajikistan, Jason, we also had a nice chance to reflect on life in the country.

Fellow expats (and Umed) at Public Pub.

Left to right: Umed, Vadim, Lauren, Jason, Nona, and me.

Just earlier that evening, I was fresh off an impromptu house call on my previous host family, where I caught up with Nurov and Khadicha. They seemed to be doing pretty well. In the two and a half years that had elapsed, there were two new marriages (a daughter and granddaughter), and two new babies (another grandchild, and another great-grandchild). They were as hospitable as ever, and I promised to come back to introduce them to Maki. On the return visit, on my last day in the city, we even got a picture! I only regret that I didn’t stop in a lot earlier — it was ever so nice to see them, and a shame I only made it back in my last few days in the city!

Nurd with Anisa, the newest grandchild, and me with Nurov and Khadicha.

Nurd with Anisa, the newest grandchild, and me with Nurov and Khadicha.

On my last weekend in the city, I also managed to meet up with Nargiz. Our final meeting took place at the National Museum, which had been moved to a new building in the three years that had elapsed since my last visit. Parts of it are a little over the top, needless to say…

The National Museum of Tajikistan.

The National Museum of Tajikistan.

I was delighted, however, to see that some of the most precious treasures of its previous iteration were still on display. Mostly, I was excited to see this one:

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After a morning of packing and before my penultimate day at the archive, Maki and I went to lunch at our neighborhood kurutobkhona, a cafe that serves only national food. I hadn’t managed to make it there in the three months I was there, since i tended to be out during lunch time. But it was delicious — a nice finale to Tajik cuisine (all the sadder, since national cuisine is definitely one area in which Kazakhstan is lacking).

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So, too, did I need to say goodbye at the archives. Though I spent far less time there than I had hoped, thank to the endless troubles of getting access, it had been a pleasant time. Sunset over the mountains on the penultimate day in the archive:

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The main archivist in charge of the reading room, who had developed quite the shining to me, seemed sorry to see me go (“Who am I going to look at after you’re gone? It will be so boring!”), though was also very happy to enjoy the chocolates over my final tea, which we enjoyed mid-afternoon on the day before our departure. And with that, I bid farewell to everyone, including the archive’s director, whom I had previously never met. Farewell, central archive!

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And that was a wrap. I boarded a minibus and traveled through the beautiful afternoon, to bid farewell to my Tajik teacher. I might also add, this kind of clear, relatively unpolluted weather was also something I would be saying goodbye to…

Passing the Circus for the last time on a beautiful and clear afternoon.

Passing the Circus for the last time on a beautiful and clear afternoon.

After I returned my textbook and bid farewell to my teacher and the others at the American Councils office, Maki and I headed over to my host family’s home, so I could introduce him. We spent a lovely hour with them, chatting about life, memories, and all sorts of other things. Such a perfect way to head off. After bidding them goodbye, Maki and I continued onwards for our farewell dinner at Traktir, a Ukrainian restaurant that is one of Dushanbe’s best. We didn’t take any pictures, but we enjoyed our final evening with our closest friends from the three months in Dushanbe. And that was that! We headed home to finish packing, and woke up early to throw in the last load of laundry and pack up the final odds and ends. Our landlord came to collect the keys and see us off, and before we knew it, the taxi was there to pick us up. We arrived at the airport to much fanfare — apparently the Prime Minister’s was set to arrive at any moment from his latest foreign travels. But it’s more fun to pretend like it was all of us.

At Dushanbe's new airport, apparently awaiting the arrival of the prime minister.

At Dushanbe’s new airport, apparently awaiting the arrival of the prime minister.

And soon enough, we were soaring above the endless mountains en route to Almaty.

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Truly endless mountains, I tell you… Our view for the whole flight:

Truly endless mountains.

The end of a wonderful fall in Tajikistan!

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