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Pamir Mountains, the Crossroads of History
New York Times ^ | December 20, 2009 | ANDY ISAACSON

Posted on 12/24/2009 9:59:14 PM PST by nickcarraway

BY 9 in the morning, the bazaar on a rocky island in the Panj River was a frenetic scene of haggling and theatrics. Afghan traders in long tunics and vests hawked teas, toiletries and rubber slippers. Turbaned fortune tellers bent over ornate Persian texts, predicting futures for the price of a dollar. Tajik women bargained over resplendent bolts of fabric. All were mingling this bright Saturday at a weekly market held throughout the year and, in one form or another, for thousands of years here in the Wakhan Valley, which divides Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

“Mousetraps, mousetraps, mousetraps, oooowww!” crooned a white-bearded Afghan in the Iranian language spoken by locals from both sides of the border.

“They don’t buy!” complained a high-heeled shoe salesman from Kabul to me, in English.

“They always start the price too high,” a Tajik woman in a blue patterned dress and headscarf whispered as she stood before bright red carpets, appearing seductive against a monochrome mountain backdrop.

As the sun rose higher, I joined the crowds — young Tajik men in sporty shirts and jeans, uniformed border guards, families — seeking shade under rainbow umbrellas to eat rice palov, served from large cauldrons. Across the market grounds, I could see three lipsticked Korean women in straw hats dispensing balloon animals to a captivated group of men and boys.

East meeting West, North meeting South: since time immemorial, the Wakhan Valley, in the Pamir Mountains, has existed at the intersection of trails trodden by nomads, peddlers, pilgrims and, at times, the soldiers and emissaries of great powers. When I’d thought about traveling to see this rugged branch of the ancient Silk Road, it had seemed like an adventure to the far-flung periphery of the world.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy; History; Travel
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; centralasia; china; geopolitics; india; kim; rudyardkipling; russia; silkroute; thegreatgame; unitedkingdom
This is an amazing, significant region of the world.

1 posted on 12/24/2009 9:59:16 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

“it had seemed like an adventure to the far-flung periphery of the world.”

If it isn’t the periphery of the world, you can damn well see it from there!

2 posted on 12/24/2009 10:04:16 PM PST by freepersup (!)
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To: nickcarraway; AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...

Merry Christmas!

3 posted on 12/24/2009 11:19:55 PM PST by SunkenCiv (My Sunday Feeling is that Nothing is easy. Goes for the rest of the week too.)
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To: SunkenCiv

Several of the homestays have been equipped with solar water heaters and showers designed by the local NGO Tajik Seeds - a fine example of simple and appropriate technology.



4 posted on 12/25/2009 12:34:48 PM PST by Fred Nerks
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