Saturday, October 13, 2012

Going solo Tajik style

On one of the news channels there was some curious footage from Tajikistan. It highlighted the plight of thousands of Tajik women who have been abandoned by their husbands. Since Tajikistan doesn’t offer an abundance of well-paying jobs, it turns out that perhaps 30 percent of Tajik bread winners have spent years as sometimes unwelcome gastarbeiter in Russia. As they were toiling away from home, at some point quite a few decided to call back home with a shocking announcement. They solemnly declared they were divorcing their wives, often leaving them to shoulder the burden of raising several children with very little income. Why has this trend taken such epidemic proportions in recent years? I have another elegant theory explaining it all.

My hypothesis is that those multitudes of Tajik men perhaps had read Eric Klinenberg’s book, "Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone." It probably went viral in their exiled community, one way or another. I have written previously about the tractatus of the esteemed American sociology professor, which seems to encourage and praise such an unencumbered pursuit of happiness. Dr. Klinenberg argues that living alone is truly wonderful, with no real downsides, since it makes possible the pursuit of that most “sacred” modern value, personal freedom. Those who take this high road can fully concentrate on their own needs and desires, without any obstructions from domestic partners, kids, or other nuisances. Oh, someone could say, but those unskilled Tajik laborers cannot possibly not read English; some perhaps can’t even read in their native language. I can grant this, so perhaps they all reached the same conclusion as Dr. Klinenberg on their own. I guess he would be even more gratified if this were the case. After all, the fact that so many independent investigators have reached the same conclusion surely corroborates its validity.