Thursday, October 26, 2006


I had some coffee and melon at fredy's place. A youngster is sitting behind a table outside, watching the door; he has his books pilled up in front of him but he is not reading. Judging by the amount of book he clings to, I think he wanted a job where he could do his studies too. Sitting in a foreigner house doing random things is his ideal option.

Found a rickshaw as I walked out the door. With difficulty managed to fit myself and my bags in it. The driver started asking me where I go. I said to Tajikistan.

He said "what for?"

"for a visit" I said.


can we just go to 'bandar imam sahib'

"of course, I understand. Its morning and Ramazan, it's not a good idea to talk too much when you are holding fast. You might say something unwanted"

on his windshield he has pictures of half naked bollywood actresses. I was wondering if he thought those are fine in Ramazan.

After ten minutes of driving he told me we were at shirkhan bandar cars terminal.

I said “no it's not here”

“it's here but there are no cars” he continued “I can take you to shirkhan bandar”

there was no way his old rickshaw could drive 65KM - at least not in a day.

As I get off the rickshaw with my bags, a corolla stopped and asked me if I was going to shirkhan bandar. As we are haggling on the price another corolla with an occupant stops and the guy shouts "I will take you half of what he asks for"

As I am reaching shirkhan Bandar, a few kilometres from the port I see a check point. The soldier orders me to get off the car here; the car has the permit and could go further.

The soldier added "wait with these guys for the bus"

"I need to go on this car" I said.

After some bargain and persuasion of some cash, he agreed to let me through in the car.

Now I am at the customs office in shirkhan bandar. The police officer who stamped out my passport was very interested how much money would tolo tv make a month.

The cops in the corridor wanted to check my bags. "I need to check your bags"

"that is fine"

"you know, there is a lot of drug trafficking across the border. So I really need to see it thoroughly"


"dude, pay for my iftar and save both of us some trouble"

At the river bank we had to wait for a furry to take us across. There were a couple of guys with their families and some guys taking car to sell in tajikistan. The furry is organised by one of konduz authorities and it charged the same amount I paid to travel 430km from Kabul to the north.

As the furry stopped on the Tajik side a military man and woman jumped into it to check the passports. They didn't like my photo; it took them some time to be convinced it's not fake. While they were holding my passport, they were collecting bribe from the car owners, one refused and it give them a better reason to harass somebody so they returned my passport.

A bus took us to tajik bordor police. A cop came out and ordered us to wait outside and wait in turns, then he asked all women to go first, since both of the women were with some children and their husbands so they had to go too. Half an hour later the same military woman who met us on the furry came out and asked for all Tajikistan passport holders to go for stamping.

Then it was the turn of the line and I was first. There was a military man who was filling in the embarkment forms for everyone, that is why it was taking so long for one person to finish. He asked for ten dollars. I said I can do it myself. He replied "of course you can't, it needs precision. I am the only one who can do this. There are 15 people with you, go and ask if any of them could do it themselves"

Made outside the compound, very tangible tajik world. Taxi drivers offering ride as their golden
teeth were shining. Women in long tajik dress and without head hijab were selling cigarettes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wanted to write about that night but in a nasty way. It was exactly the way border police treated me. Today I read my love’s story and what’s happened seems to me irrelevant and stupid.
The only excuse for my story is that I felt the stupidity of what was happening when everything was happening. There were 2 things I was thinking about at that time how my baby will stay at our place for another 7 hours and how to go home (rudaki 3a) instead of police station if fuckers will keep their promise and will not allow me to the plane. I was also thinking how to let trohania know that I’m staying (call Fahri and ask her to come? Call alcoholic? call old man? Call Djomahon whose number I didn’t have? Ask policeman to drive me to our place and then to police station? Da….
My baby asked me if I want to go. He said it’s very painful to wait. Then he asked: Or may be you want to stay?” I was so happy he asked because when he asked me if I want to go I didn’t know how to say “no”. We got another 2 minutes for each other.
Then the so-called check-in started. There was a guy standing in the doorways – the first “barrier”. . I showed him my passport. Learned that I’m Russian he asked me where my residence registration was. I thought: ”started” as the original expectation was that no one would ask me about that. Was kind of ironic as for moscovites “registracija”is usually associated with Tajik, Uzbek, Georgian workers rather with these guys’ lack of registracija. So it was a triumph of justice. I kind of liked it.
I could hardly look at the guy as my eyes was so swollen. Thinking back it seems to me the whole so-called airport (mean passengers and stuff) was watching us. i showed the folded piece of paper, the guy didn’t look at it and said : come in, little girl. Sanjarchik smiled to me (i know what it cost and I know this forced smile) I went. The guy followed me and asked: Is he Indian? He is your husband, isn’t he?
Fuck…Again.. ”No, he is not Indian. He is an Afghan. The rest you can guess. You saw my passport. And you can call him my husband if it makes you happy”.
There was a lot of Tajiks with a lot of luggage. Few people informed me that they understand how hard it was. They were extremely nice asking me to be first. They keep asking questions about “my husband”. Two weeks ago such sympathy made me happy. Then I lost my faith in its sincerity. It’s hard to me to distinguish extreme sincerity from extreme curiosity which I don’t mind in general but curiosity without attempt to understand makes me sick lately.
Trochania saw the guy helping me to fill out customs declaration (as a matter of fact he did everything, asked all questions about my husband and then gave me his phone number, saying he had no wife but a lot of children and I can stay at his place whenever I want without mentioning “my husband”.
First I thought that i didn’t need any customs declaration bla as I had nothing to declare but the customs official said “you probably have the name and the last name so be so kind and fill it out (I have to check if it’s legal to make people do this in these cases)
So i passed the second barrier wrote my name and that I had 300 US dollars and 270 russian rubles.
Then I went to the tiny room with 3 woman with golden teeth sitting there.
“So it was your boyfriend and you were crying, weren’t you? Is he Tajik? Did you like Dushanbe?” “Yes.Yes. No. Yes.” They were supposed to check my things. They actually checked cookies for my mom.
I got another stamp and headed to the so-called frontier guard.
She asked what the purpose of my visit was. She couldn’t understand the word “tourism”, which was also written in my migration card. She said that the “residence registration” had expired and I had to pay a fine for every hour I was staying in Tajikistan but she didn’t say where. I was trying to explain that during the last 2 days I was traveling which means I was moving and had no actual residence. It didn’t quite work out and she said to wait for chief officer. She took all my docs including customs declaration where the amount of money I had had been written.
I had terrible headache and really didn’t give a shit about the situation. The other officer came and was waiting with me for the chief simultaneously trying to check and scare me saying that I should forget about my flight, that now we are heading to the police office and I’d have to pay 300-400 USD fine, so I should be nice with the chief.
- Do you know you must register in 72 hours after arrival?
- Yes, I do. And by the way, I did it.
- Why are you registered from 23rd if you arrived on 18th?
- I delivered my docs to OVIR on 21st morning, and they have a form with a date and my signature so i don’t know why did they decide to write 23-30 instead of 21-31. You may call them and check.
- Why didn’t you prolong your registration?
- First I was traveling, second it took OVIR 5 days to issue the paper and I didn’t want to stay without my passport but with a ticket. Third it’s kind of hard to find a policeman on duty as you have Emamoli Rahmonov elections. It took me 2 days to find one and I was coming to his HOME few times even at 10 o’clock in the evening. So when you are saying that we are going to the police station I’m preparing to pay a visit to my friend.
The guy decided not to like me.
- Are you sure you are Russian? Why do you speak Russian with French accent? (as if he knew how it sounds)
- Spare me. I showed him moscow state uni philological faculty student card.
The chief with a “helper” came.
They asked me to come into the officer’s cabin.
So there were 3 guys and one woman doing their job. And half an hour before plane takes off.
The chief repeated what the pervious officer said and offer to pay a fine to him. 100 dollar. Wanted to say I have no money but mother fucker had my customs declaration in his hands.
I said 100 dollar is impossible. It’s my parents’ money and I have to return it. The chief got impatient and told me to talk with the girl “women will understand each other better”.

The girl was so-called nice and ask how much “I have in my disposal”.
I was trying to make her understand certain things. I said I came here to see my love and I decided to stay with him for another 48 hours because I haven’t seen him for 3 month and probably would not for another 2-3.
- 2000 russian rubles and you are free. I had only 270 (and 2000 rubl is 75 USD by the way).
I remembered that I had 40 usd which I forgot to mention. Told her. She made a face as if it’s nothing.
- Dollars + rubles and wait outside. i’ll come and take it. She returned me my passport and ticket.
Was sitting in the waiting room with my back towards the direction she was supposed to come from.
2 officers came and were shouting “Devushka, devushka” (I know Sanjar hates it so I was not reacting) they started: ”Sofya, Sofya”so I had to go.
There was kind of “bar” consisting of 2 high tables. Officers stood “around”one. I came and put money on the table as obvious as I could. And I succeed:) A lot of people saw my maneuver. Guys went crazy: Hide it immediately! Not like this! Put it in your passport we’ll come in a couple of minutes and give it to us. 100 dollar. I said we agreed on 40. They guy who was examining me before got in rage. “Forget about flight. We were trying to help you but it seems you are ungrateful”.
I was sick of people help. Some was trying to help me to get Russian visa for my love for 3500 dollar, more moderate for 1000, help with getting married varied from 1200 USD to what we “had in our disposal”. Don’t call it help, ok? Don’t glorify yourself.
I went back to the bench; there was airport staff waiting. Don’t know their position but they were dressed in a blue uniform with shoulder straps. One of them was laying on the bench with his boots off.
- We see you are in love and very sad. Have some water with us. We stand a treat:)
How much do they want?
- 100
- Russian rubles?
- Better.
- 100 somons?
- Better.
They couldn’t guess what was better so I said 100 dollar and they said they lost the last shame. They advised to pay 500 rus rubles or if I have my ticket and passport to play innocent and not to pay at all. They asked me all usual questions and I told them my learned story.
Finally the boarding was announced. I went to the gate as fast as I could not looking back.
The plane was in 30 meters.
It was written “SAMARA” with huge red letters on its side.
It was kind of stupid to ask if it goes to Samara and I thought “whatever”. Can go to Samara and then decide. Tajiks man were offering me to go first but I saw the last frontier officer checking docs before the ladder and I preferred to stay in a line. The steward noticed me and said to go upstairs.
Was sitting in the plane waiting for take off. All thoughts of my baby walking along Dushanbe recalling our talks, trying to find our steps as I learned today.