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To help aid in the telling of this story I have included various resources that I have found. Map of Krygyzstan and its relation on earth, Map of Bishkek the capital, and some peoples' photos. These events happened in early August 2004.
"Sometimes life is tiger cage", my head was screaming, as my utterly horrified friend, Joe, let me in through the ramshackle apartment door. My face was still intact except its new pall was an oxygenated red. I was dripping my blood everywhere but at least was able to come up with a witty slogan to describe the moment.
He led me about 4 feet forward and then to the right, I knelt down, he leaned my head over the bathtub. This is when I definitely voiced the catch-phrase my head had been pounding as what seemed like sweat drops came gushing from places that my life essence had never known it could flow. I had been thinking it as I lurched, scared shitless, up some totally alien stairwell that I had only climbed less than a handful of times and never at night or in this state of being.
I was fucked-up in a situation very different from others. The way my head swum being mixed with alcohol and concussion; shaken and blurred. My friend grabbed a close towel and put it on my face as I hunched like a supplicate penitent. Watching my living essence change the color of the dirty-white tub. Mixing and flowing, collecting and spilling. My mind’s thoughts flit fast past the evening’s events. I could hear either him or his wife (also my friend) talking on the phone to someone of which I had no clue. My adrenaline was still very high, as was my pulse.
I thought about the first club we all had gone to. The excitement of being in a new place still very much my mood. (It is also a state of mind I think we can almost attain on an everyday level, if we actually try. The stark choice to see the beautiful in most anything, to truly approach this world with the eyes of a wonderstruck child). Many people crowded the concrete veranda, as well as the universal omnipresent white plastic indoor/outdoor furniture adding to the boisterous clutter. There even was a projection screen with music videos’ photons being reflected and bounced off of it. We had some very inexpensive (in my conception) beer as well as a good amount of the equally inexpensive vodka. We stayed about an hour and a half or so talking with many of the other people I was with, they all being friends or acquaintances of some sort that hadn’t seen each other in awhile. This all adding to fill the jokes and conversation full of festive gaiety. Some people decided to call it a night and meandered off to their respective apartments, including my friends of which whom I was staying.
I still being in exceedingly good spirits proceeded to another club, this one being dedicated much more specifically to dancing. The objective: To walk to the other side of the main park. The destination: Spyder. Being adorned with faux cobwebs and other ‘spooky’ paraphernalia, illuminated with black lights, it was a glorified Halloween dance but in a Central-Asian cool sort of way. We descended the stairs into the lair, after some bargaining with the guys working the door, by the people I had accompanied or rather followed from the first bar. Two guys and two girls, upper twenties their ages, all Peace Corps Volunteers. I proceeded to drink a good amount more of straight vodka with one of the other guys while the girls had some and beer. The size amount of vodka was ordered in their quantities with words that sounded like ‘Jews scram’ which it does sound like this at least to a certain degree, and to me whom knew not the language. It is a good portion of liquor. There were some people dancing amongst the pseudo-scary decor; some being fairly sexy girls.
Before one of the guys I had accompanied went to use the latrine, he relayed a story about how either himself or someone else (the noise and disorienting lights affected the understanding of his story) had gone to use the restroom and had been so drunk that the protagonist of the story had fallen out of the restroom, pushing open the door with their falling and landed on the floor outside of it, stunned, bruised and half passed out. I laughed a bit and suggested that I didn’t want to get that fucked-up. He agreed. After some time I eventually got up to use the can which was at the far end of the room/hall in a darker area more dimly lit by less black lights but still adhering to the establishments name with cobwebs strung about the walls and ceiling. When I came back a pretty sexy blond Russian girl was sitting in my chair. As I approached she stood and pulled the chair a little further out onto the dance-floor and taking my hand had me sit back down. She then proceeded to do some sexy enough lap dance type moves while I had another shot and another cigarette. Some of my evening’s companions were already dancing and I joined them, dancing with this girl for awhile. The music was good enough for a club like this. We danced in a group and had some more to drink.
Soon enough we decided to leave, it took some time to haggle with the drivers and other seemingly random people to commandeer their taxi services. It seemed much longer than necessary to me. Each of my compatriots accompanied another and I was sent back in a cab alone with the directions given to the driver. Now, I am not really sure as to the next actual events but I have my sensory impressions and have subsequently analyzed them some.
The driver and I arrived at the apartment. With the fare paid, I exited and proceeded towards the open doorway of the stairwell, not more than three meters away, where I shockingly and jarringly felt myself being forcibly pushed forward towards the opening. There suddenly an intense impact crashed into my right eye-socket followed by an immediate second blow, sturdy and palpably solid. I started to recoil backwards, stumbling, when I was then seized a second time or else had been contiguously held. I was thrown towards the place where the taxi had been, tripping over some large stone or concrete parking median. My face hit the ground at least tying with my hands, if not before them; like the worst of some new Olympic sport, my forehead may have taken the gold. My hands had not substantially braced my impact because I had engaged them immediately prior to the futile flailing around wildly before my dazed bedazzled head. I also chipped my front tooth with the collision of enamel and ground. Not badly, to have a disfigured smile. There may have been two guys that attacked me or one. Maybe even three. It happened very fast.
I could not see from my right eye as a guy rummaged through my left pocket taking my passport. I had been yelling "HELP!" a couple times but seeing as I was saying it (or screaming it) in English, I don’t know how much it really did help. A car about 30 meters before my sprawled body turned on then off again its headlights. It could have been the same taxi or someone even working against me as well. Then after having obtained my passport the dude fled perhaps to the car or perhaps not. I lifted myself and stumbled through the doorway where this had all started. I slumped up the steps and remembered level 3, 3rd level, 3 FLIGHTS OF STAIRS, while trying to keep my lone open eye open to see any more assailants as well as to find the correct sanctuary apartment door. I finally arrived at the apartment door. Beleaguered, I banged on it. Telling Joe that I was beat-up and needed to be let in immediately. His disbelieving voice I could hear as he opened the door.
There may have been even enough time for someone or some people to have run from the club to the scene where the crime was perpetrated against me, with how long we had waited to actually leave. A person may have even emerged from the taxi’s trunk or just there waiting. I really don’t know and probably never will, the true actualities.
After my friends had called an ambulance and triaged my wounds, Joe and I headed off to the hospital with me laying on a gurney in the back. I was thinking that it may have been a little pricey to have an ambulance ride but the inexpensive nature of the country as well as the fact that no one had a car and our chance (or more specifically my friends’ chance) of finding a taxi at that place and at that time was very slight. So taking the ambulance was the best choice. Not my favorite ride. I must have been muttering strange things. I do know I was using my very sparse amount of Kyrgyz pretty incorrectly and incoherently, which I would continue to do even at the hospital. I was saying ‘big’ and ‘crazy’ as well as ‘thank you’ to the medics. After this babbling we arrived at the hospital.
The, about 20 year-old doctor, looked at my wounds then brought me into another room to sew my face up. At some point in time the medic lady from the Peace Corps showed up to really provide much needed help to me. She translated for me as well as led me around the hospital complex to the various offices and other doctors I had to go and see. I received three stitches at the top of my nose and onto my right eyebrow ridge. They had cost much less to be sewn than ones I would have received in The States for sure. I think they were around $10. He had me lay on my back on a table where he sort of straddled me slightly on my left side to work his Soviet Era healing magic. I was pretty apprehensive about how the stitches would turn out as I felt my face being pulled back and forth ever so slightly by his suturing efforts. He bandaged them up as well as another cut below my right eye and cleaned a smaller cut on the upper left part of my forehead that is now one of the small number of scars my face contains.
He escorted me back into the room I had previously been in where some of the other injured souls were still seated, as well as Joe and the Peace Corps medic. The man I had tried to have helped by the doctor before me was there and he soon was scolded for being drunk and then told to lie down. The instructions told to the man being translated to me by Joe.
Joe wanted to check on Caroline to make sure she was ok seeing as the assault had happened right where we were all staying, so he headed back to the apartment and the Peace Corps medic stayed with me to continue with her aid.
She helped me answer and fill out my first of what would be many police and other reports. I was led from area to area, my head very light, but trying to take the experience in stride. I currently had about 5 pieces of paper in my hands and I was to give each of them to the appropriate person at the respectively correct office.
Here I was being helped by the French Peace Corps lady with a huge bandage over my eye. We were sitting and waiting, there were about 10 other derelicts as well now. Doctors and nurses would come in and out of the various rooms laughing and not really helping anyone and I sitting and looking at the pieces of bureaucratic malarkey I held in my hands. I had been rambling but making what seemed to my bewildered mind, a decent enough conversation. I started thinking and talking about Kafka. Not the hopeful Amerika Kafka filled with dreams of a new land, but rather of The Trial. How he has all this bureaucracy to face and can find no answers. I then thought of the Welles’ movie version with K walking around and seeing the lines and lines of other people waiting. I thought of The Castle. Him walking through the neighborhoods of a maze. I felt like I was there. As I was relaying this all to the woman who had been helping me she suddenly started to look more attractive and I realized that not only am I totally beat-up and comparing my circumstance to Kafka but now I am being affected by the Florence Nightingale Syndrome. I kept this newest mental wandering to myself and added it to the incredible combination of events that had been unfolding.
I was finally summoned to a receptionist’s closet-sized office type of window where I realized that at least one of the sheets of paper I was holding was stamped and printed by the former Soviet Union, this being at least 14 years after its collapse.
Being led into another room and told to sit down by another doctor that was going to check if there was actually any damage to my eye itself. They pried apart my incredibly painful and swollen lids. The doctor put some sort of drops into it and then I was to try to read the eye-exam chart about 2.5 meters away. I had actually been thinking for some time that I may have needed glasses so as I was telling them this and saying which way the ‘E’ was facing my crazed mind suggested that maybe it was for the best because now I was finally having an eye-exam. That was another great suggestion to self while trying to see the positive of having my face bashed in. The doctor said that maybe I did need glasses but that my eye was ok and not permanently damaged. That was taken as the course of events with a disillusioned mellow.
I was finally escorted home around 11am not having slept for more than a day and feeling that I had lost this battle I was helped onto the makeshift floor-bed by Joe after I returned to the apartment and the scene of the crime.
The next day, after sleeping most of that one, came and was filled with much more bureaucratic insanity. First, Joe and I had to go to a place that is perhaps the last that any person wishes to willingly go in any country… the police station. We walked around the streets and sidewalks that many aren’t little more than hole infested packed dirt lanes and found it. We had to receive permission to enter the dilapidated building. There were so many uniformed and plain-clothed officers as we wound our way through the precinct halls and rooms, into and out of offices until we sat in the office of a police detective who was very cordial.
My face still bleeding significantly as we restated all that had occurred. We did that for about 3 hours and tried to blot as well as stem the flow from the smallest cut under my eye. It must have been the deepest because it kept leaking.
This detective typed out the report and finally gave me a copy only after numerous other cops came in to gawk at the mangled foreigner. He then led us about 2 km away to the doctor that is charged with inspecting people filling out police reports. We walked in and the cop told her that we were there and then she asked me and us, why. This exchange all being in Kyrgyz and there being a good amount of bloody bandages on my face, I had to think to myself why would you ask us that, when clearly I have been beaten. The female doctor had 2 young female assistants who started to giggle at evidently the funny things she was saying about me. We had been in this office about 2 minutes when Joe burst into his own angry speech directed at the doctor before the detective settled him down. She had been saying how there was mud in my hair as well as other things so unrelated to her position and mine. Joe asked me if I liked her hair and I sort of said, "Why" and then, "Not really", so Joe told her that we thought her hair was very bad. This is when the cop intervened, to try to get the doctor to inspect the wounds and Joe to stop insulting her for insulting me. He was defending his injured and totally oblivious friend.
It’s not that I am self-conscious about my body but with the assistants giggling I was told to remove my shirt, I felt embarrassed. I even had to open my pants a little to allow for the most efficient measuring of my wounds. The doctor whose job it was to measure my bruises with a ruler, I guess to document the extent of my injuries. What about internal damage?, I thought that this had to be some sick joke. Then she proceeded to remove my bandages so they could actually measure the cuts as well. This being only such a short time after having received them that the wounds were still trying to coagulate. Suffice it to say this succeeded in only reopening my cuts causing the already bleeding wounds to bleed more.
We left with myself being about as humiliated as I had been in a long time and a sheet of paper from the cop. The paper saying to anyone that needed to see my passport (like other cops) that it was stolen and I was in the process of getting a new one.
This all happened about one week after I left the U.S. but I never even thought of turning back at that time from the path I had chosen to tread.