I am back in Tashkent. The life I am leading here now will be very different compared to what it was like before - I live in a different apartment with different people now, I have a different job and a lot of the people who I used to spend most of my time with have left the country. I suppose it's one of the things you have to get used to as an expat, namely that people come and go all the time - contracts are rarely issused for longer than a year. While I am feeling slightly lost because my very good friend, roommate and Bezugsperson Ulli has left, I guess I am pretty lucky because at least some of friends are still here. There are my new housemates Matthias and Saskia - Matthias of course being my former co-worker at Uni - and Saskia who I also got to know in my very first week in Tashkent. There is my neighbour Ernest from Spain, whose training room I still use to relax or train, as well as whose birds (3 canaries and 2 lovebirds) I still take care of when he is away. There is still the very energetic crowd from the British School of Tashkent, and the Irishman Eric in particular, who always finds a way to calm me down and distracts me from another Uzbek frustration. And, of course, there are also some of my former students as well as other Uzbeks who are always up for joining me when going to a museum, celebrating a holiday or helping me out when I am - once again - struggling with Russian. And, of course, I am currently getting to know my new co-workers who are all very supportive on my very first days in the new office. I suppose that things are going pretty well for me so far!
The house I live in now is only a 15min walk from the place where I used to live and about a 25min walk away from work which is pretty handy. It's a one-storeyed house consisting of two parts - in one part you can find the kitchen, living room, bathroom and toilet, as well as Saskia's room and, last but not least, my room (guess what, I still don't have a proper bed! but it's not as bad as the last one) In the middle between the two parts, there is a little garden and a beautiful terrace beneath a wooden canopy, as well as... you will never guess it... a pool! This will prove very very handy in summer when it gets up to 42 degrees celcius. Matthias lives in the other part of the house, which also has a bathroom and toilet, as well as a bedroom and library. Despite my dislike for high temperatures, I can't wait until it gets warmer when you can actually spend time on the terrace as well as organise BBQs, although I shouldn't forget to mention that it's actually pretty warm already (especially when it's still snowing in most other places.. hehe).
You may remember my very first post when I told you about the frustrations of getting registered in Uzbekistan. I thought I was now prepared for it, knowing how incredibly stupid Uzbek bureaucracy can be.. but - who would have thought so - it can always get much, much worse. Before I start recounting this tale of major frustration, there are two details you should know about: Firstly, you have to register within 72 hours after your arrival - if you omit to do so, you will be fined 3 million Uzbek sum (which is about 1,480$). Secondly, the organisation I am working for consists of two offices which are about a 15-20min drive apart, which often causes logistical problems. Within my blog I will refer to them as office 1 (where I work) and office 2 (where I don't work). Alrighty, now that you know that, let me begin with the story: For registration you need all sorts of documents, such as the floorplan of your apartment, your landlord(s) passports, your own passport, a letter from your workplace and probably a lot more that I don't know about. I had arranged with my landlady and her husband to meet me at the house Monday 3pm, so we could then drive to the OVIR (registration office) together. As we got there, we found out that since the organisation I am working for is international, they would have to do the registration via the Uzbek foreign ministry. So we went to the ministry, where they discussed some issue for about 45min in a mixture of Russian and Uzbek..however everytime I asked them if there was a problem, they would answer "no problem, no problem!". In the end we found out (well, the landlady would tell me in a very poor mixture of English and Russian) that we would have to speak to Alisher, the logistics officer of my organisation, to provide the right company-related documents. So we drove to office 2, where they, once again, discussed my registration in length (again saying that there was, of course, no problem, no problem), which resulted in that Alisher would take care of it the next day. Everything sorted... well, so I thought.
The next day Adelina (an assistant at office 2) wrote me an email that I would have to come to office 2 to pick up the money for the registration. Not quite understanding why, I called her to inquire what exactly I should do with it, so she told me I that I should go to the OVIR by myself to pay for the registration. Well, the OVIR is not only a horrible but also massive place, so that I said that I wouldn't be able to go there on my own because of three reasons. Firstly, Alisher had all the documents, even my passport, so that I couldn't even tell/show the officials what I would like to pay for. Secondly, I had no idea to which official I should give the money to. And thirdly, I am far from having a full conversation in Russian. Adelina then said that she was too busy, so that I should speak to Alisher. Alisher, however, was really busy too and when I asked that I would, under no circumstances, would go to the OVIR by myself because I knew exactly that it would be fruitless, he got a little annoyed with me and asked, well is it REALLY too much to ask of you to go there on your own? Well, for fuck's sake, I don't speak the language, so YES, it is! After a lengthy discussion and me feeling absolutely helpless because it seemed as if nobody felt responsible for me, he did, however, suggest that I should get a driver and merely tell him that I would also need him to help me at the OVIR. Well, there wasn't a driver at our office, so that I waited around for 2 hours until I finally decided to take some action and asked one of my co-workers if he would help me convince one of the drivers to come back to our office. So he did, and the driver picked me up, drove me to office 2 so that I could pick up the money from Adelina and then drove me to the OVIR. Surprise, surprise - after searching for several minutes where we could pay, the official at the OVIR told us that we couldn't just show up without any documents and, particularly, without any identification. The driver was annoyed, I was even more annoyed, and back we drove to office 1 not knowing exactly what to do. You see, the problem was this: By the time I got back to office 1 without achieving any progress regarding my registration, it was already 4.30pm.. which meant that the OVIR would close soon, and that there would be no way to register me before the 72 hours were over. I was silently freaking out because time was running out. Particularly because Alisher, who had all the necessary documents, would not pick up his phone, even after calling repeatedly. I called Adelina again and asked her what I should do, so she responded that I should bring the money for the registration back to office 2 and that Alisher would take care of it. At that point, I just stopped to care and thought to myself, I did everything I could do, so I am just going to put it into their hands. I am not sure what happened now, but I am praying that they somehow managed to sort out my registration in time.
All this frustration, uncertainty, feeling helpless and driving from one place to the other left me absolutely knackered at the end of the day, so that I fell asleep at 9pm only to wake up 11hours later...