So finally I got to Dushanbe, a pleasant spotless clean city, full of parks, trees, fountains… and where all the action seems to happen around one long street.
The day I arrived there was a kind of festival in a hill that overlooks the city so there I went. Not many people there a stage with some cheesy Tajik pop singers a camel. Not very exciting but I met some friendly locals that would ensure a pint of beer would be always waiting for me before I could finish the one I was drinking. Despite its friendly folks, the city seems boring.
One the second day I went to the bazaar. When bored anywhere in Asia bazaars are the best call, always plenty of food, weird stuff and interesting characters. There, in a bar, I was allowed to pay my beer and was amazed by the price: 2 Somonis!!! ($0.40, 0.32 euros, 0.27 pounds, 14 rubles, 53 pesetas, 64 escudos, 108 drachmas). Unbelievable, probably the cheapest draft beer in the world. I found something to keep me busy there as I don’t need to have fun in order to drink.
Later on, two women asked me to join them in a bar for beer drinking. I felt something dodgy about them, but more people were there and my hotel just a 3 min walk so I thought nothing should be wrong. One of them offered me to stay at her place, but I knew that wouldn’t be a wise move. A guy warned me as well of possible trouble so after 6 pints I decided it was enough, time to go. Note that all conversations were held in Russian so I understood about 10% and said Da, piva to the rest. On leaving the girls followed me and one grabbed my arm intending not letting me get in the hotel. The security guy had to help me get rid of them. When in my room I heard a lot of screaming and everyone was looking to the street from the room windows. Apparently they start hitting on the hotel staff and police officers had to come. I acted as you would expect, not giving a fuck I went to sleep like a child, a drunk child…
When I waked up next morning and was going to leave, downstairs, the hotel manager was waiting for me with a policeman. The piggy was talking with the manager and writing a lot, like 6 papers. What for? I don’t think he has a blog. He asked me a few questions in Russian as well. They were friendly, but the officer was keeping my passport, probably he would want a bribe. They took me to the main police station where they locked the girls for the night. They took all of us (the manager, the girls and me) through different rooms were different officers keep asking questions (always in Putin’s language). I decided to change my strategy and go for I don’t understand instead of the usual yes to all. I kept claiming my passport back… and they ignoring my request. At some point, they brought the guys who know English. He was able to ask me where I am from, my name and if I like football. Then happily he named a few Real Madrid and Barcelona players. Difficult to say whether his English was better than my Russian. Probably he got the job because he wrote he could speak English on his CV, well-played mate. Then they took me back to the hotel ad put me on the phone with a guy who actually could speak good English. He told me to be back in 2 hours to testify and he would be there to translate.
OK, I went to the bazaar for breakfast where I couldn’t resist grabbing a pint of the World Cheapest Beer. Locals brought me 2 more. I back went to the police station in a good mood. There the translator told me I was required to testify at a trial and remain in the country for 1-2 months. I knew they were bluffing and told them it was OK for me to stay there, but they should cover my expenses as I didn’t have money. Definitely not the reaction they were expecting. They asked me when my flight was leaving and what was my next destination. I told them I was going to a village 50 km North and planning to hitchhike to Kyrgyzstan, not flying. They realized they were wasting their time so the translator left me alone with the piggy. No much talk needed to finish the business. The Smurf asked me money to give me back my passport and close the case. – How much? -$100. I put a $10 note one the table. – Good?. He gave the passport and I left. I regretted giving him the $10. I should have played the wild card of pretending to call the Embassy. Against a bluff, a good player should raise and not check as I did.
Time to go to the Russian Embassy, always good fun… Come back on Wed at 3pm with all the documents and invitation and maybe you get your visa in one week. I didn’t want to spend another 10 days in Tajikistan so goodbye Russia.