Tuesday, 11 June 2013

(61): Faith, civilisation and diversity (III)

Dushanbe at Night
I took the menu to see if I could recognise some of the food, I selected what I could recognise, but I had to use the sign language to point at my preferred choice. Sometimes you do not understand the value of a skill until its need arises. I had to use my fingers as well to find out about the price. This made me to appreciate the sign language that you normally see on television during news or whether forecast. As I was struggling to complete my order, a voice behind me said, brother Jameeeeeel…. I turned around; it was Professor Mudjia Rahardjo, the Rector of Republic of Indonesia Islamic University, who was attending the same event as I was.

I met Professor Rahardjo at the airport on our way to the hotel. He was a very humble and soft-hearted person. We quickly became friends. With a huge sigh of relief, I greeted him. “Don’t worry, we have an interpreter with us, he can help you order the food that you want”, Professor Rahardjo said. I went back to the counter again, and the interpreter helped me to place the order and settle the bills.

In the evening as people prepare to close from work, I returned to the hotel, a friend in our entourage suggested that we visit the Somoni Park, which is opposite the hotel. Few minutes later, we were there. Somoni Park is a very beautiful place for families and friends. It is decorated by flowers. It has enough seats for people to spend their time. But what I found most beautiful is how the people of Dushanbe utilise the parks by spending their evenings there. The youth will bring their friends to stroll around. And they welcome strangers with a smile.

A common practice you see in the Somoni Park is that once the young people see a stranger, they come and ask for photo, young children walk towards you and smiling with joy. One interesting point is that a country does not need to be stupendously rich before it can make life comfortable for its people. This is a great lesson for other developing countries. The city of Dushanbe is surrounded by public parks. The people of Tajikistan are not rich, yet they are happy. Their country is beautiful, and the people are hospitable.

There are some interesting facts about the country some of which were confirmed to us during a visit to Professor Jamshidov, a leading professor of linguistics in the country. It has a population of around eight million people, two million less than the population of Kano. Yet, there are 32 universities. Almost two million people are working in Russia, sending remittances worth US $ 2 billion a month to the country.

Somoni Park in Dushanbe
They have 97% literacy rate. Any father who refuses to take his child to school will go straight to prison. And you could clearly see the high literacy rate in the country when you interact with the elderly people. I saw that when purchasing some traditional Tajik attire, before we left the country. The elderly woman I was purchasing from writes well and makes calculations without any difficulty.This brings me to the next point, they have beautiful traditional dress. For those who like a unique dress during the Eid festivals, they should explore from Tajikistan.

One more thing, among the public universities the Tajik people are proud of is Avicenna Tajik Medical University, named after the famous Muslim scientist and a leading pioneer of medical education. The university is considered one of the best even in the former Soviet Union. According to an encyclopedia published by the University, “the medicine of Tajiks has an original history, which roots come from a deep antiquity. The treasury of the world medical science was enriched by the works of the greatest scientist-doctors of antiquity and first of all by Avicenna (in 10-11 centuries), from which many generations of doctors and scientists of the world have got medical knowledge and skills” (p. 104).

The journey to Tajikistan was fulfilling, but for every beginning there is an end, and it has to end. On Friday morning at 2am on 24th May, 2013, I checked out from my hotel and headed straight to the airport. The weather was cool, the wind gently breezing. As the morning approaches and the passengers on board Turkish airline were seated. It started raining heavily. After two hours of waiting inside the aircraft, it started moving gently and slowly. As the flight took off and headed towards Istanbul, looking through the window as we penetrate through the clouds, my heart was saying good bye Tajikistan.


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