Assalomu Alaykum! Salamatsyzby! здравствуйте!

Assalomu Alaykum! Salamatsyzby! здравствуйте! Hello!

My name is Kristina and I am a 26-year-old Austrian with a slight obsession with Central Asia and travelling to the more remote parts of the world. Learning a lot (of and about) languages, foreign cultures and trying to gain a better understanding of traditions while teaching German has been my mission in the past years.
Initially, this blog started out as a mere means to inform my friends and family about my life and adventures when I first moved to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It became a lot more than that to me after realizing that writing helped me to make sense of the strange world surrounding me, to deal with culture shock as well as to help me organize the chaos in my head. My Central Asian adventures haven't ended yet and I am looking forward to entertaining you with some more (crazy) stories from Kyrgyzstan in the very soon future!

I am also a couchsurf host - if you're planning a trip to Naryn, let me know on here and we can take it from there :)

I am always happy to hear from my readers, so please don't hesitate to contact me if you have comments or questions, about travel tips in Central Asia or about life in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan :)

Much love,

Mittwoch, 10. Juli 2013

The UZ files: episode I

(or in German: Aktenzeichen UZ ungelöst, Folge 1)

Strange and eerie things have been happening to me in Tashkent, and it's about time to share them with you...

Let us go back to a time long long ago, to a wintery and snowy pre-Christmas Tashkent. One freezing Monday night in December, I left my cosy apartment to embark upon a cold journey to the Irish pub to meet for a pint or two with an Irishman called Eric who I had just met a week before. We chatted away for hours until we reached the - for me very sensitive - topic of Christmas and how he would go home and enjoy lovely Irish breakfast with Irish tea and spend Christmas day with his family and friends while I had to stay in Tashkent - my first Christmas spent away from my family. I also told him how my flatmate had a boyfriend who spent 24/7 in my apartment and how I found it somewhat annoying that night by night, I had to watch those two lovebirds while I was silently thinking to myself, GET A ROOM (which you don't share with your flatmate!). A good soul as Eric is, he said he would like to do a good deed for Christmas and offered me to give me his keys for his apartment over the holidays, so that I could escape the lovebirdy-ness of my own. Very generous indeed, I thought, and decided to take him up on his offer when I met him at his apartment a day or two later so he could show me around and hand over the keys. The apartment was lush - sparkly walls,WiFi, decorated with ming vases and other (slightly weird but expensive) stuff, with its own study room and a massive and very comfy bed (in all fairness though, in comparison to my bed at the time which did not have a mattress but only consisted of a slatted frame with a few blankets on it, everything is comfy). The day after, he left for good oul' Ireland and I went to his apartment every now and then to enjoy fast internet and some time to myself. I thorougly enjoyed it, except for one thing - everytime I entered the kitchen, there was a strange smell lingering and no matter how much and how often I aired the room, it did not go away. I emptied the fridge and the cupboards and threw out absolutely everything that could possibly cause it, but nothing helped. I even messaged him about it but only received the equally unknowing answer of: "Glad the apartment is serving you well although sorry to hear about the smell! Maybe it is the lingering odour of Aziz's feet! Feel free to throw out whatever you want and air the place out if you can stand the cold"

One day, I decided to organise an evening of singing German Christmas songs with my students at University and wanted to provide them with homemade Austrian Christmas biscuits. The oven in my own apartment, however, didn't work. Despite the weird smell in Eric's kitchen, my flatmate Ulli, who had agreed to join in the joys of baking, and I went to the apartment and started baking. Ulli also realised the smell and after a few hours of baking and spending our time in this weird odour, we could no longer take it and thought to ourselves, we need to get to the bottom of the matter. To my horror, she confirmed my idea of what the smell was like. And you, my dear readers, will be even more disgusted if you find out what the kitchen (where we were baking our lovely biscuits for a good three hours!) smelled of - it smelled of urine. Very, very distinctively. We smelled and sniffled our ways through the kitchen to find its source, until...

The biscuits were finished and put in boxes as I started to clean the kitchen. I gave the tins and work surface a good scrub and then saw that on the top of the oven - on the stove, so to say - we had spilt some flour. Now, for those of you who know gas stoves, you know how there is like a metal grid on which you put the pans or sauce pans, and underneath is the gas source. The stove looked somewhat dirty without the flour on it already, so I figured I may aswell clean the whole thing and lifted the metal grid. And shouted out in disgust. Yellow liquid with the strongest smell of old urine you can imagine came from under the metal grid. Ulli was in disgust, I was in disgust, and neither of us knew what to do or what to think. Our disgust somewhat vanished when both of us just burst out laughing so hard until we cried, cause we could not stop asking ourselves - W T F ? And WHOSE apartment is this for god's sake? After a good 10 minutes of laughing, we finally realised how we shouldn't automatically assume that it was actually piss. Or that we should try to find out what it was and, if it was piss, how it got onto the frickin stove. We were discussing back and forth until we came up with the following six theories:

1) It's not piss, it's just old beer which Eric spilt and because it's cheap Uzbek beer which got old, it just started to develop this weird smell.
2) It's cat's piss. The landlord has a cat and let it in when he was checking the apartment.
3) It's piss. Eric was sleep walking and mistook the oven for the toilet.
4) It's piss. Eric is just a feckin weirdo und fucking disgusting.
5) It's piss. Eric had a party and everyone got so drunk that they thought it would be funny to extinguish the fire with piss. Or they simply didn't realise what they were doing.
6) It's piss. Aziz, the school's security guard who has a tendency to be drunk 24/7, spent the night on Eric's couch before he left. He was so drunk or simply in a weird mood that he decided to piss on the oven.

Now, as much as we discussed and thought about the likelihood of any of these theories, there was no way to find the solution: unless I would ask Eric. Even though I didn't know him that well at the time, I thought that if I just messaged him and told him how bloody disgusting his apartment was, he'd be too embarassed to ever talk to me again. So I had to wait almost three weeks in suspense until I could receive an answer.

He came back after his holiday, we met up in the apartment, chatted a bit about Dublin, New Years Eve and reverse culture shocks until I could no longer sit there and chit chat because I SIMPLY WANTED TO KNOW. I said to him, Eric, I have three questions for you and I know this is going to sound weird but please hear me out. He looked at me suspiciously and said, go on.

Question 1: Does your landlord have a cat?
Question 2: Has anyone ever told you that you sleepwalk?
Question 3: Did you have a big party shortly before you left?

As I asked these questions I could see that he was absolutely petrified and working his brain trying to figure out what the hell I was talking about. No, his landlord did not have a cat. As far as he knows he doesn't sleepwalk. He had a few people over but nothing major. I finally told him, giggling all the way, and he wasn't as amused as I was. He was worried that I genuinely thought that it was him, which I didn't! He calmed down after a while and started to see the funny element in it, but he didn't have a clue either how it could have happened and why anybody would do such a thing. We talked about it repeatedly over the following weeks and couldn't find a solution. And we didn't tell ANYBODY until a few weeks ago.

However, the mystery is still unsolved, and I don't think we will ever find out who the secret oven pisser was...

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