Category: Tajikistan

The tiny village of Burunkul lies between Khorugh and Murghob in the Pamir region of Tajikistan, forgotten by civilization and clashing empires, bypassed by truckers neglected by time.

This meditative study of village of life is about sound and the passage of time, about life cycles and about technology, about the ebb and flow of civilizations and those who get lost on the cobwebs of the Silk Road. There is no narration. There are no interviews. There is nothing more that this one morning in the Pamirs.

Shot with a Sony DCR TRV27 on MiniDV. Edited in iMovie ’09. Original score composed in GarageBand.

From my series on the Chinese road workers.

Cement

From my documentary series on the Chinese road workers of Tajikistan.

Work Camp

We went on the hike this past weekend. Phe ran up the mountain, and most of the way down. He is getting stronger, we all are actually. We walked through a tiny mud village about half an hour outside of Dushanbe. There’s nothing there but red mud huts and dung pies for fuel, donkeys, dogs and hay. The village is on the side of a hill. We can see into everone’s houses, their yards, their lives. A few onions and potatoes can be seen stored in someone’s crawlspace. Everything is out in the open. There is nothing to hide, because they have nothing. Still, as we rest, a woman comes out and offers up apples from her yard. The are crisp and sweeter then the ones from the market. We take three, then walk back to the car. We take turns carrying Phe when he gets tired. Then we go home.

DRAIN PIPE

Self Portrait

GAZ 69

Construction Project in Dushanbe

There are lots of new buildings going up in Dushanbe. There are several on Rudaki Avenue and more on Somoni. The National Library will be built behind the Somoni statue, and there is new construction on either side of the presidential palace. Out near the Peacock Circle someone is building a giant mosque. Or is it a water park? The cement skeleton is thrown up quite quickly. After that, unless it is being built by the government, it just sits there, waiting.

Cement

Dormitory for Chinese Road Workers in Tajikistan

Traditional Chinese paper lanterns hang outside the dormitory and cafeteria for Chinese workers building the roads outside of Tajikistan. Unbelievably, they make more money here than they would working in China.

Paper Lanterns

Dushanbe River

Dushanbe is a city of contrasts. Porches whiz past Ladas, cement factories tower over bootleg DVD stores, old ladies beg in front of jewelry stores. The one thing people crave is power. Electricity lines trump family lines, smoke stacks take president over stacks of money or gold. The power to leave control others, to smelt steel, the power to shape rivers and flood valleys.

Dushanbe River

Somoni Statue

Somoni Statue Detail

We walked around the Somoni statue over the weekend, and suddenly two police officers started blowing their whistles at me. I wasn’t quite sure what I had done wrong. I looked down and found that I was stepping on the steps leading up to the statue, and apparently that’s not allowed. But that’s OK. Everyone takes photos of the front of the statue. How many people take photos of the back? We walked around to see what we could find from a different angle.

The Other Side