Dushanbe is a clean city with big colonial neo-classical buildings and big trees. The main drag is named after the poet Rudaki. Off Rudaki, the streets seem to contain mostly a combination of residential or government buildings. Dushanbe is known for being nice but not the most interesting place in the world. As in many of the other cities we've been to in Central Asia, it serves the long term traveler as a good place to use the Internet and find a decent cup of coffee.
Today was Independence Day. We didn't see any official celebrations. However, there were lots of people out enjoying the holiday. The main gathering place seemed to be the Bagh-i-Rudaki, the central park which I believe has been newly re-designed and/or expanded. There are lots of benches with little garbage cans next to them (a rarity in Central Asia), paths, new grass, and trees smaller than other trees around the city. There are several sculptures including one of a potter. People looked dressed up, though it is hard to tell because perhaps they always dress that way.
We walked up Rudaki and caught sight of a minaret. It was part of the fairly modern-looking Haji Yakoub Mosque and Medressa. A man sitting outside was astonished when Rowshan said he was from Iran saying, “With your long hair, I thought you were a Westerner”. Rowshan held his tongue and didn't respond, “Your prophets had long hair,” as he wanted to. There were some beautifully carved doors and I wondered where we could find the workshops where they are made. As we walked around the outside of the mosque, Rowshan noticed a satellite TV dish mounted on the minaret.
We've been trying to get an idea of people's opinion of life after independence. While at a seamstress shop, once again trying to fix Rowshan's pants, Rowshan chatted with the women there who were working on Tajik dresses of satins and velvets with ornate yokes. When he asked if things were better now or during the Soviet Union, one said, "Before, one person's salary could feed 8 people. Now you can barely feed just yourself."