Sunday night I saw perhaps the most bizarre thing I have ever seen in Central Asia. I went to the baths around dusk to take photos of the odd building. It was a good place to go, as it’s by the park and all Almaty was out enjoying the Sunday evening. I arrived at the baths around eight and they were busy.
As I moved away from the baths to get a better angle and I noticed a man in the bushes across from the baths with his pants undone. “Oh lovely, he’s taking a leak,” I thought, and quickly moved on. Then, a woman popped up. Oh good god it’s a prostitute, and they’ve just finished behind the bushes across from the bathhouse. Oh lovely. I rounded the shrubbery and took another look. He handed her some money. Oy—they weren’t finishing, they were starting. She was going down on him. Reflexively, I grabbed my camera and snapped a shot.
I was in full view, and pretended to take photos of the bathhouse when I noticed someone else watching them: a policemen. He wasn’t doing a thing, just watching. I wanted a photo of him, but was terrified he might take my camera. I snapped anyway. He’s overexposed. A few minutes later, the lovelies straighten up and left the shrubbery, handing the policemen some bills as they went.
Do you believe? I barely did. Guka definitely didn’t. She insisted, even while looking at the photos, “No, it can’t be! It can’t be! It must be something else. Maybe he is hurt.”
Well, I saw what I saw. Perhaps this speaks more to my own perversion. Hell—perhaps he was hurt. Or maybe she was helping him shoot up. Maybe Guka didn’t want me to think such things went on in her city. “It can’t be. There are places—hotels—for things like this. This is right in the open.” It isn’t as if my own city is above such happenings, for which we also have hotels. This certainly doesn’t stop anyone from going on in a park or a stairwell.
I’m back in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, now, which has somehow lived up to my tremendous memories of last month. The pics of the events in the shrubbery are back in Tashkent. I’ll post them later [pics since posted!].