Monday, 14 October 2013

One of these days

One of these days

3 April 2013 at 12:14
07:30am– Pink Floyd’s Time on my mobile phone alerts me that I need to wake up and that the new day has officially begun. Its lyrics reinforce the message to me that I can’t waste any time and that I have to drag my ass in to the shower.

08:15am – all dressed up, still dosing I climb down the stairs of the old Soviet block building – can’t be bothered to wait for the stinky elevator: nothing ruins a day more than a bad smell in the morning. On the way down some random people appear from the flats i.e. neighbors. I greet them but can’t remember if I do that in Georgian, English, Russian or Uzbek.  Probably in that orders as I descend from the 5th floor to the ground floor I gradually leave my dreams and come closer to the reality.I step out of the entrance and… Good morning Tashkent!
In the sunshine I stroll clumsily in the beautiful alley of the trees (don’t ask me what type,probably one of those complex Latin names the scientists love to use to sound very intellectual), densely parked old Russian cars and locally manufactured miniature GM minis.

08:25am – Promised land! Mecca! After 10 minutes’ walk I land in a French cafe called “Bon”. Bonjour, Rovshan! (Rovshan is a young Uzbek waiter here and I obviously say “Salam”rather than bonjour). Rovshan already knows what exactly and desperately I need to come to terms with the reality as I have explained this to him multiple times in Georgian (it is my preferred language early in the morning as its sound perfectly depicts my feelings in this part of the day): espresso (double in terms of quantity as well as the strength), quiche Lorraine and a cold glass of water. I take a cigarette for desert and pay to Rovshan: 14,000 Soms (est. US$ 5).

08:45am - I grab a minuscule sized, locally manufactured GM car to take me to the office. Taxi drivers are always curious to know where I am from. At this stage (after espresso) my morning switches to its English section… it is usually accompanied by a wide and confused smile on the taxi driver’s face… America? English? I usually say, no –Chechen! The smile disappears and fades with the wind blowing from the window of the car.

08:55am – As Ipay to the taxi driver 3,000 or 4,000 Soms (US$ 2) I am quite ready to switch to the Russian and I greet the security guards at the office gates. I go through the metal gates, cameras, double metal doors, clicking and beeping sounds of electric locks, signing in the book, collect the keys, open the doors,flip the laptop, press the start button, hang the backpack and the jacket – I amin my room ready to start cooking.

10:00am – I realize that I ran out of cash, so I call our chief security guard who has the connections on the local semi-illegal, semi-legal, in-principle-prohibited market. I give him US$ 600 and in 30 minutes a mysterious currency trader arrives and the guard returns to my room  with a huge bundle of Soms (local currency),total 1,650,000 in 500-Som notes. Yes, I have to count 3,300 of them and it weighs couple of kilograms. Package size is 30X40X20cm.I stick the package in to my backpack and I realize that it has become way too heavy:in such moments a feeling, commonly and widely spread among the human female spices overtakes and overwhelms me – I need to spend it ASAP, on anything, just anything juts to get rid of this weight.

13:00 – After manufacturing,processing, marketing and selling as well as buying tones of emails, phone calls and signatures, I decide to take a walk outside and grab something to nibble on. Not that I am hungry, it’s just everyone, literary the entire country is having lunch so if I don’t do the same I, kind of, stand out… they will say who is this odd Chechen?! Ops, sorry by now they all know I am a Georgian. So, “if you go to Rome you have to behave like a Roman” and I enter Laghmannaya! If you don’t know what is Laghman, look it up in Google – local traditional soup. Pretty nice if it’s cooked well. This time I take Shurpa (another local soup), Samsa (local pastry with meat) and a glass of Coke.  I pay 10,000 Soms. See you tomorrow and I release a burp of relief.

15:00 – Driver arrives and I head to the main building to attend the meeting. Handshakes, greetings, artificial and at times superficial smiles… occasionally idiotic smiles, a bit of fuss,flip-flapping laptops, Ipads, hanging jackets on the chairs, short formal skirts, knock-knocking the high heels, chairman arrives and the meeting begins.To cut the long story short, what I captured at the meeting was that we have to closely coordinate our efforts to improve communication on the global issues,in line with the MDGs and the national priorities. The Joint Task Force was tasked to decide on the establishment of a committee on the coordination issues,which in turn shall set up sub-committees on the sectoral coordination issues.Decision on the decision will have to be made decisively (I remember I heard applause when this was suggested) and the priorities shall be kept in focus. While I was doodling a dosing gentleman next to me looked over my shoulder and asked: ar u artist? in a very distinct Russian accent. I said no, just a scientist, I am conducting a psychological research? Look,if you’d like, I can pretend that I have understood all this shit at the meeting,but I didn't  So, I head back to my oven in my tiny room with my laptop, which opens up only a part of the entire world as many websites here are blocked by…whoever, who cares.

18:00 – I pack up, close down Windows,close my laptop, put on my jacket, mount my backpack on my shoulder, turn off the lights, lock the door, hand in the keys, log my departure time… click, beep,buzz, passed the gates and I am out. I take a walk to the main road, pass by few restaurants, Israeli fortified embassy, couple of drunk guys, catch taxi and in 10 minutes I am in front of the same old Soviet building where everything began this morning. This time I take a big breath, step in to the stinky elevator and ascend to the 5th floor.

 19:00– I turn on the TV, plug USB modem in to my laptop and begin changing TVchannels (norbulating) in a hope to find or come across an English channel – I miss BBC World and BBC Knowledge, Nik Gowing, Zeinab Badawi, Stephen Sackur, Jeremy Clarkson… Instead I go through few Uzbek and tens of Russian channels: Karakalpakstanacquired new harvesters, president met him, president received them, anti-corruption committee had a meeting, ministry of culture had a conference, Putin said this,Medvedev said that, BRICS will dominate the world economy, MChS (Russian Emergency Services) is doing this, FSB (former KGB) has done that, MVD(Ministry of Interior) has captured them, Tabakov has anniversary, Pugachevahas periods (still), Kirkorov has a son, Gazmanov loves extreme sports, Siutkinwas awarded, Liube has concerts in one-of-the-grads, Duma ruled on the trafficlights, Jirinovski has no alternative, Berezobski sent an apologetic letter toPutin two months ago,  GAI (traffic police)has new regulations on the heavy duty vehicles, reforms in the Far East Region,Vladivostok is freezing, subsidized air-transport among smaller regions promisesthe travel boom in Russia, Zenit against Dinamo, old Soviet black and white films about the partisans, documentary about the World War the 2nd, “critical”review of the Soviet times, American interventions in Korean and Vietnamesewars… Stop! Stoooop! Enough! Let’s get out.

21:00 – Put on the shoes, lock the door, climb down, take taxi arrive to the Irish pub. Some resemblance of other world, the world that doesn't seem to exist when you live here. A pint, a burger, chit-chat in English – feel much better.

23:30 – head back,get on the laptop, make few nasty comments on the FB (fucking stupid Georgians!)… When you click a button to connect to the Internet it makes the sound of a car engine when you start a car (I couldn't mute it, it doesn't have such option, so every time I log on to Internet it goes brmmvvvvvv, brmbvvvvv). This sound demonstrates how Internet works here.

00:30 - time to sleep, to start it all over again tomorrow with the Pink Floyd’s tunes. Well then, not too bad at all, can be worth. Good night.

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