Eventful flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan

We boarded an Uzbek airways plane on the night of 13th Feb. The flight was packed with folks taking sacks (yes sacks, not bags or suitcases) full of stuff from India. Nisha and I wondered through the entire flight what could they be possibly carrying – and were not very discreet in trying to solving this mystery. We peered over and into their bags. I spotted many packs of Kurkure and bright orange ladoos. (Our travel agent told us later that people carry medicines by the sackful from India.)

We stuck out as two odd girls on a flight full of Uzbeks and a large Indian contingent of distributors out on their “incentive” holiday to Tashkent. Clearly everyone was wondering whether we were on the right flight. It was an old plane with seat belts so old school that it took us a while to figure out how they worked – but it got us to Tashkent in good time.

In the wee hours of the morning, we were expected to fill up a tiresome customs declaration form in duplicate. Uzbek customs officials keep one and give you the other (lest you forget what you carried into their country). Like good honest citizens, Nisha and I listed every possession we had on ourselves. Had I known we had to fill two of these forms, I may have curbed my enthusiasm to declare! Having told them about every tiny gram of jewellery that we’d worn, we were finally let out into the cold.

Ali, our chatty driver met us outside. A short drive later, we were in our hotel The Grand Orzu (loose translation – grand wish) located in a quaint neighbourhood in Tashkent. Both of us flopped into our beds in a rather hot and toasty room. A heady combination of fatigue, excitement and anticipation ensured that we slept soundly through the rest of the night.

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