Tashkent Airport


Tashkent transit lounge is, in fact, marginally worse than Heathrow Terminal 2 was. I would describe it as a room. That was its most distinctive feature, apart from the black leather seats lining the walls, full of bored looking people. A wonderful looking old man, in Afghan style dress and carrying a stick, comes up to me and asks about Kashmir in an unknown language. Kashmir is the only word I recognise, but his enquiring eyes behind his gold-rimmed glasses and his bushy white beard seem to need a response. I reassure him that this is indeed the room for Kashmir, and he tries to strike up a conversation. Since Kashmir is the only word we have in common, the conversation doesn't last long. I wish I could speak all these languages - the people look so interesting.
typical passenger
A sign suggests that upstairs may be a duty free shop and resturant, and I am feeling the lack of breakfast, so this seems like a good idea. The duty free shop is closed and displays a cryptic note in some strange language which refers to the 15th October. The shelves are pretty empty anyway apart from a few bottles of Vodka. Outside is a lady being violently sick into a paper bag, so I move on to the restaurant. The Restaurant looks excellent, but is unfortunately completely deserted. A visit to the toilets reveals a scene reminiscent of wandering round bombed houses as a child after the war, so I decide to give up on this floor. Everyone looks bored except the lady with the paper bag.
Back downstairs is a room labelled "BAR". It's padlocked shut and the ill fitting glass doors are backed with faded violet curtains so I guess that's closed. There are stern looking women in khaki uniforms wandering about, forever popping out of doors which they carefully lock behind them. It's a mixture between a Brian Rix farce and Kafka's "Trial", but I feel more relaxed than I did in the high pressure shopping mall of Heathrow.
"Beijing flight" calls the attendant, and off we go in an ancient little bus that weaves round the tarmac which seems to have planes dotted about at random. We arrive at our Tu154 for Beijing. Beijing? It doesn't look fit to fly to the end of the runway, and it seems very small after the Airbus. However, this is just appearances and if it wasn't for the dull brown decor, the utility seating, and the carpet turning up at the edges, it would be perfectly OK. Beijing here we come.

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