At this point, we agreed with my duty free aficionado friend (I should probably call him by his name by this point, because the number of friends I seem to have on arrival to a random Central Asian airport that I have never met seems to be needlessly multiplying) – I will call him U. – that we’d get out of the airport, he would get picked up by his friend, I would get picked up by my other friend (B.), and then we’d go for an early breakfast.
Of course, as I exited the terminal, I got mobbed by a taxi driver, that I refused (since I was getting picked up), and they immediately left me in peace. I wandered off to the side of the parking lot waiting for B., at which point another taxi driver idly came by and asked, somewhat disinterestedly, whether I needed a lift. I guess he wasn’t part of the mafia. I said no, as I was waiting for a friend, at which point the taxi driver offered to call my friend and explain where I was, as he observed me standing around for a few minutes by that point. I gave him the phone number, he called, told me that my friend will arrive shortly, and left. I was pretty surprised by this – I typically have much less pleasant experiences with airport taxis, so this was very welcome. Eventually, B. showed up, I got in his car, he reconnected by phone with U., and we went looking for a shashlik (grilled meat) place. It was 4:30am, so as B. explained, it was not entirely legal to be open at that time for some reason (remember: these countries have rules that don’t have to make sense, but everyone follows them), but he knew a place who’d open up for him because he had friends. As everyone around there does, I guess.
By 5:30am, we were seated, and the table was full. Obviously we were the only customers, and obviously the restaurant had no trouble with U.’s duty free being brought in, so the Johnny came out, then quickly disappeared between the four of us (another friend of U.’s showed up, who apparently had nothing else to do at 5.30am either). And then we went on to the tequila bottle; as I later told some of my (other) friends, this was literally the first, and hopefully last, time in my life that I was doing tequila bombs at 5:30am in any country, ever.
The shashlik was absolutely sublime, though. Just looking at this picture now is making me hungry.
Eventually we adjourned, and went to B.’s place to take a shower. He had some futon-type bedding prepared, though, and he recommended I catch a few hours of sleep – which seemed like a great idea, considering it was barely 6am, I wasn’t in any particular hurry, and we were a couple of bottles in, so we both just crashed and slept until 11.
After we woke up, B. suggested it was time for lunch (which was interesting, as we had just spent an hour eating shashlik at 5am with sides of Johnnie Walker), but I am never one to refuse perekusit’ (which means “have a snack”), so we went to the pilaf Mecca. Basically, it’s a market-type place where great numbers of people show up to eat pilaf. That is all.
This one is still not ready:
When I say hundreds of people, I’m not joking. All in Chevrolets, too. Except that Nissan President on the right, you might say? Ah nope! Daewoo.