I acclimated myself to Boulder with a chalice of frothing chai at the Dunshanbe Tea House, a Tajikistan palace imported into an open park in downtown Boulder. Although Dunshanbe is a full restaurant, it is known far and wide as the best cup of chai, and nowhere in all the land is there to be found a tea with as much warmth or as nippy a snap. I sat at the mahogany bar with my chai; the silver-screen perfect waiters get five stars.
Dunshanbe is a marble courtyard, palmed and candled. In the center is the fountain of the Seven Beauties, seven princesses of a fairy tale inscribed in the scrolls of the poet Nezami Ganjavi in the 12th century. In the Nezami translation that I found, the hero is beset by a quest to find his love and hindered by tasks and a strong Victorian voice.
A hundred arms were weak on block to move
Of thousands, moulded by the hand of Love
Into fantastic shapes and forms of grace
Which crowd each nook of that fantastic place.
Love grants me powers that nature might deny;
And whatsoe’er my doom, the world shall tell,
The lover gave to immortality
Her name he loved – so fatally – so well!
This fountain is a replica of the seven princesses, and the seven princesses set the tone for Dunshanbe. Pourquoi – Dunshanbe, Tijakistan presented the city of Boulder, Colorado with a teahouse to cement the sister city ties in 1990. Let’s hope that Boulder did right by them and built them – I don’t know, a nice frat house?
Incidentally, Dunshanbe is “Monday” in Tajik because the capitol grew up around the Monday market place. Now you know. Go have some chai.