Thursday, April 2, 2015

Khujand. Panjshanbe Bazaar.

Sharing a moment with a pair of friendly vendors.

After visiting the park around the citadel and going to the museum, we finally got to Panjshanbe Bazaar, the main market in Khujand.  I am in my happy element.


Zarif dropped us off and when I got out of the van, I didn't see anything that looked like a central city market though there were a lot of people walking about everywhere.  We followed Kai and eventually arrived at a large plaza.  At the far end was a large pink colored building.  That I recognized!  


The front part of the plaza was filled with vendors selling, as you can expect, pretty much everything under the sun except for furniture and cars. Need a bootleg DVD or maybe some new underwear or a toilet plunger or maybe just a loaf of bread. This is the place to come! 


We followed Kai inside the market.  By the way, when you watch, you'll get to hear a snippet of him speaking.  His English was IMPECCABLE which is quite remarkable given that he comes from Khujand - not exactly a hotbed of English speaking people!  He barely has a trace of a foreign accent - maybe he practiced his English watching American television?



Inside the main building, we passed by several tables covered with loaves of non.  As with Uzbeks, non is the iconic table bread for Tajiks as well.  I don't think a Tajik can eat a meal without non!



We stopped at a table and I asked if I could take a photo of the bread.  The ever so friendly women here kindly allowed me to do so and then turned the curiosity table on us.  I could hear Kai saying, "America".  I figured they wanted to know where we were from.  Both Pat and I exchanged a lot of laughs with them and surprisingly, they were not shy about posing for a photo.  Of course, we gladly let them see the photos we took and that often resulted in a lot of giggles.

This woman was buying bread but she agreed to let me take her photo.  In fact, I think she enjoyed having her picture taken.  I think she wanted me to take a photo of the bread but I thought she had a lovely face so that's what I wanted to capture.  She was quick to break into a giggle when I showed her the photo I had taken.  It's not a bad photo - I'm getting better at taking shots of people.


When I showed this smiling woman the photo I had just taken of her, her comment was how round she is.  Indeed she is pleasantly plump.  With Kai interpreting, I told here that in the Chinese culture, it's desirable to be plump because it means you have money to eat well i.e., you're rich.  We both shared a good chuckle over that comment of mine! :-)

When you're greeted by such a warm smile, you can't help but smile back.

We had to buy a samsa.  Okay, make that two samsa. 

Watching us have a good time with the women selling bread, a man asked for us to take his photo.  At least that's what I initially thought but later I wondered if he was actually begging for money or maybe food as he was standing right next to the samsa seller.  He was clad in a traditional Tajik robe with a skull cap.  I took his photo from his chest up.


It wasn't until I walked away that I noticed he had a peg leg - his left leg is a wooden stump.  Pat managed to capture a full shot of him.  I felt sorry for the guy.


From here, we headed outside to another section of the market - lots of produce and housewares for sale.  Pat was captivated by the vendor selling the brush brooms.  There was a lady customer arguing with the vendor.  I can imagine she wasn't happy about the price!


We didn't get very far before we got stopped by a lovely young woman selling non from a cart!  She wanted me to take her photo and I gladly obliged.


We headed back inside - things seemed more interesting there.


For some reason, I took this photo of sacks of beans and things.  I don't  know why....it's not particularly interesting.  Oddly enough, I didn't take all that many photos in the market.  I think I was too busy looking around.


At one point, I heard some voices.  I thought they were calling out to me so I looked around. I saw two men waving for me to come over to them and so I did. They were sitting near a woman selling pickled vegetables.  She had no desire to interact with me nor was she all that keen for me to take photos of her veggies so I aimed my camera at the men but took in a view of the veggies as well.  Sneaky me.


The guys were really friendly.  They chatted and laughed with Kai.  I just took a photo of them.  I loved the guy's dimples.  Seeing his fair face and hair color made me realize the diversity of faces here.  Though Tajiks are mainly of Persian ancestry, it's obvious there's some European blood (Russian?) here.


And I did get a shot of the pickled veggies.  Looks like some grape leaves, cucumbers, radishes, and tomatoes.


I waved at the friendly women selling non as I walked by.  I will forever remember their warm smiles.

The fruits, wrapped in the styrofoam mesh, are imported.  Not much variety of fruits at this time of year.

Selling lamb.

Blurry photo of sausages.  This is what you get when I take a photo while I'm walking :-(

Looking across the plaza from the entrance to Panjshanbe Bazaar.
The domed building on the left is Sheikh Musliddin Mosque and the domes on the right top the building that
is the mausoleum of Sheikh Musliddin.



Standing in the plaza, Kai pointed out Sheikh Musliddin Mosque and located adjacent to it, the mausoleum of Sheikh Musliddin.


Before we entered the grounds of the mosque, Kai warned us about the gypsy women lolling about the front gate - we should just ignore them. I wouldn't have done otherwise.  For some very odd reason, neither Pat nor I took any photos of the mosque itself.  All I have is a photo of the minaret and part of the madrasah.

The Tajikistan government prohibits women from entering mosques so we took a quick look from the outside and moved on.  Hmmm.....this restriction on women and mosques makes me wonder how Tajikistan's Islamic culture views and treats women.  I have to do more reading on this later.

The minaret.

The mausoleum wasn't open so all we could do was look at it from the outside.

Mausoleum of Sheikh Musliddi.  



Bazaar. Check. Mosque. Check. Mausoleum. Check. Our time here was up, time to move on to the next tourist attraction - a palace!