Uzbek Story: It's Like That, Life
Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
351Trip End Ongoing
At dusk, I exited the Sobir Rakhimov Metro to look for a shared ride to Samarkand: this was the place to get that ride. One man came up to me, asked if I needed a ride, then said to his buddies in Russian: "he's a foreigner, let's rip him off."
"How much?" I asked. He quoted a price five times more expensive than usual; I laughed.
Another man came over: "Can I help you?"
We agreed to a fair price and he was leaving immediately, driving home after some work in Tashkent. As we were leaving, the large man stopped our vehicle and asked for money.
An argument ensued. Other supporters of the large man surrounded the car. The large man opened the car door and began to strangle the driver. I yelled at him, honked the horn, as finally the driver agreed to pay a lesser amount to the taxi mafia.
"Tashkent people are shit," spurted Borat as we had left the capital, heading south past more militsia checkpoints. "All they care about is money, money."
"My town is a beautiful town. People are good there."
"It's like that, life."
Borat was a truck driver, but not in Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan the militsia take bribes at checkpoints. "Too much trouble here, it's not worth it." Instead, he has worked in Europe where he can earn far more money with fewer hassles.
"I miss my family then, yes." He showed me a photograph of his truck in Europe, where his European co-workers all can't wait until he returns.
"Soon I will go to a spa vacation with them in Latvia. I was in Tashkent to get visa."
At a checkpoint, Borat showed me how the militsia accepts bribes. "See they hide the money in the hand, then shake, like this." Sure enough, the truck driver ahead and militsia shook hands. Others who don't shake get pulled over, searched, and harassed until they pay.
When the militsia and government are corrupt, then there are problems with the mafia too, as corruption spreads through society. "In the last few years corruption has become much worse," he lamented.
But despite the mafia, corruption, and the militsia, "the people in Uzbekistan are beautiful," he added.
"You understand me what I am saying, Lloyd."
He told me about himself, his life in Europe and in Uzbekistan. "My father is Russian Christian, my mother is Muslim. I'm fifty fifty."
"The ecology everywhere is very bad," he added when I told him my interests.
"It's like that, life."