Saturday, October 03, 2009

The world is flat, but not his voice



Of the many books I read while traveling, the one that made the biggest impression was Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, which was especially poignant to read in Shanghai, as he explained how the people there would soon be reaching across the world and taking your job, your livelihood, your house and even your wife from you. Technology has flattened the world as a playing field, Friedman said, and as a result it is far, far more competitive than it was a generation ago.

There are countless examples of this phenomenon, but I'd like to share the one above. Baimurat Allaberiyev, better known as "Tajik Jimmy", is the Susan Boyle of Central Asia. He's an ethnic Uzbek from Tajikistan working in Russia, which is enough in itself, but wait--he can sing Bollywood songs as well as anyone. That, and I read about him in Vienna. He's good enough to fool my family, who thought I was listening to Indian music in and of itself.

The high point, I'm sure you agree, is when he sings the female part.

Parenthetically, if the country hadn't been ravaged by civil war and people there made more than a few hundred dollars a year, you would probably see "Visit Tajikistan" posters around your city. I met many people in Central Asia who had been to Tajikistan; in fact, it seemed that no one who went to Central Asia skipped Tajikistan. The country is obscure: when I search Google about it, Google asks if I didn't mean Pakistan instead. Still, it's very, very beautiful. I strongly recommend it. Visas are available on arrival at the Dushanbe Airport, with flights from Turkey and Latvia. Alternatively, why not travel in style via minivan from Kyrgyzstan for $15?

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