YOU MIGHT NOTICE I’m on crutches. I was taken to hospital twice in Tajikistan — once for abscesses in my throat (a hangover from Kabul) and once for a broken foot (I fell off the stage during one of our gigs).
The hospitals were a throwback to a 60’s visualisation of a Soviet institution with beige corridors and huge X-ray machines that they used without asking my friends to exit the room. For a broken foot, I got a full leg of plaster, but I had to buy my own crutches. The nurses had full sets of gold teeth, but were fascinated by my friends’ facial piercings.
Dushanbe means “Monday” in Persian, probably because it started off as a weekly bazaar town. Nowadays people joke it’s the city of Monday, because nothing ever happens. As we walked around town on a Friday night, handing out flyers for our gig and Travka entertaining the locals, we were pretty much the most interesting thing out there. The young folks we encountered on the streets were all Russian ethnicity, not Tajik, drinking or huffing glue. But even they were gone by 9pm.
The police really didn’t know what to make of us — they didn’t want us playing on the streets, but they couldn’t really find a reason to stop us. The old lady defending Travka to the cop is saying, “he’s not Russian! He’s a foreigner.” We found you can get away with a lot with this excuse.