The main street in front of the Spitamen bazaar is clogged with idle taxis sputtering exhaust into the chill air. Said and Abdul, two young Tajiks in a tiny Daewoo hatchback, solicit passersby for their daily drive to Khujand, some 40km away. Business is slow.
The omnipresent yellow and black Western Union signs in Khujand, Tajikistan's second largest city, say it all. Tajikistan's most valuable export is its manual labor. And as the world economic crisis sets in, the worth of that commodity appears to be declining rapidly, putting additional social pressures on this remote, impoverished nation of some seven million.