tajikistun

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.

“why?”

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”

“ok”

“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.

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