09 November 2006

24 Hours with the Uzbeks

An Uzbek who you have just met who insists on calling you "my friend" is most certainly out to rip you off. Beware.

Uzbek taxi drivers will want to know where you are from. This is to put you at your ease and build rapport, such that they might rip you off more successfully in the nearest future. As an interesting experiment, tell them you are from Bolivia. They will immediately tell you tales of their great friend John from Bolivia, who they helped extensively while he was in Uzbekistan. And they didn't charge him a single cent!

There are random documents and reciepts exchanged with every transaction in Uzbekistan. Throw these away as soon as you get them. On the way out of the country, be sure you are not holding any currency - ideally you are travelling back to the real world where your bank or credit card will be useable. Any money you are taking out with you will be assumed by the customs officials to be a present for themselves. If the customs inspector asks you any questions, just play stupid. You don't understand. Explain to him that in the free world you never had to collect reciepts like this, so you just assumed it was the same in Uzbekistan. Don't get angry, just smile and laugh. Show him your empty pockets.

At the government run hotels, every member of the female staff, from hairdresser to cleaning woman to receptionist, will offer you "massage services". What they are actually suggesting is that you give them money to have sex with you. Be sure you negotiate the price prior to the start of the "massage" - if you don't, the fee will rise dramatically and will be negotiated with the help of hotel security.

Don't trust Uzbeks with matches.

Never let an Uzbek policeman or security official hold your passport. If he must look, be sure you continue to hold it, with both hands.

Do not agree to follow an Uzbek policeman or security official anywhere - they are only wanting to take you to a more intimate location where they can more conveniently extract a bribe. Conduct any official business with them in as busy a public place as possible.

03 November 2006


I found timecave, it's a place on the Internet where you can send anyone a delayed email message. Perfect for suicide.

I don't remember all the details, but let's say it's six months from now. I warned my future self that now is the time to do something extraordinary. Shit or get off the pot.

"A lot of tattoo artists won't do hands or heads," he told me, "tend to be suicidal." And from now on, on my left palm I sport my third eye, and a little yin yang, the words "reality check" up my middle finger, a dollar sign at the tip of the pinky. On the right, just "LOVE". I hear it's all you need, and I believe it. I'll keep loading up, until both the palms are completely covered with freaky shit. For the rest of my life it will just take a flash of the palms to warn off the normal people - CAUTION: from elsewhere.

There's nothing like litterring in a foreign land. I wait for the confrontation. "Not my planet, monkeyboy," I'll say, my bulk and menace shutting down further discussion. Intimidation. I want to be the bad man, the bully. Fear me, because I am ready to throw it all away right now. How bout you, bucko? Go ahead, I could do with fewer teeth, it will save me on dental bills.

But I've been suicidal all my life, working up to it, having premonitions, making plans. It's been my ongoing life project. Everybody dies, it's just some people get to sign out of their own volition. I'm one of the special people, I can do it all by myself. Look, ma, no hands!

I am most fortunate that my employers have seen fit to send me to India in the nearest future. My Hindi is coming along, slowly. Two more months of Korea, then January in Kabul, and then the nexus point.

Westerners go to India to find God, burn out, hit rock bottom and wallow in the dirt. I want in on that scene, those sound like my people. I want to become an opium addict, I want to throw everything I own into a holy river, and after all my money is gone, and I've seen enough, I want to slit my wrists and die very stoned and numb and listening to "Across the Universe".

And in the interim, I want to see the Jagganath Rath Yatra. It's where we English folk got the word Juggernaut, and conveniently it's also the only place I am aware of on the planet where opium is legally available.

And I want to be a Bollywood movie star. That might be an interesting distraction for a year or two. I look good on TV.

Or, failing that, I want a sweet young Hindu girl with good English and a tight round ass and a bright smile to adopt me, make me whole, give me a reason to build a home and make little brown babies, and die some other time.