NUREK IS FAMOUS for having the tallest hydro-electric dam in the world. It was the pride of the Soviet Union, but when we arrived in the market town to play a day-time concert, we were told they had no electricity. Apparently, Tajikistan sells so much of its electricity to Afghanistan that even the hometown of the famous dam has to go without for much of the day.
The 70km (40mi) journey from Dushanbe took us three hours over the mountainous terrain and we travelled with Rustam, a famous local singer, dubbed the ‘Tajik Michael Jackson’ after his fancy footwork. The concert had the feeling of a local fete with kids and grannies dancing hand-in-hand. A gathering of men and women together like this just wouldn’t happen in Afghanistan and it was strange to think we were only 10 hours from Kabul.
We broke down on the journey home. The driver had figured since it was downhill most of the way, he wouldn’t need so much gas, a reflection of how every penny still counts in this poor country.