Probably the second-longest string of poo jokes I’ve ever made in my life.
Waiting outside of the Migration Police office in Almaty, when all of a sudden it hits me. Well, not me, but the driver and the car that I was sitting in at the time.
I had neglected to register my foreign presence in Kazakhstan within the allotted time, and so my host’s girlfriend’s cousin’s friend’s aunt (who had just retired from the bureaucracy) offered to go with me to sort it all out. Alyiah (Dan’s girlfriend) assured me that it would all work out and I would have no problem as I tried to leave the country.
As Alyiah and Aunt went into the Migration office the three of us sat waiting in the parking lot. As cousin, friend, and I are listening to music in the car the parking spot next to us is vacant. In slow motion (at least as I recall it) a car, a black sedan, pulls forward into the spot.
In what I remember vividly as a beautiful arc, a brown stream flies out from under the car next door directly towards our parking space. A coward in the face of so filthy an enemy, I duck behind the passenger door. The driver (“Friend”), with his window down and door wide open, has nowhere to go.
Taking stock of the brown spots mottling the car, the door, his sweater, his hand. Cousin’s friend looks at his hand. Raises it to nose level. Sniffs. Eyes widen, nostrils flare, gagging. I don’t remember it now, but I’m positive that at that moment I learned the Kazakh words for “Oh, shit.”
Finally the smell really strikes in force, and there is no mistaking it. The three of us flee the car, laughing in a kind of shell-shocked disbelief. The driver of the black sedan steps out, looks on in amazement, and hands us a pocket-sized package of tissues. Then walks away.
I don’t speak any Russian at this point, much less Kazakh. These guys speak a bit of English, but who learns the vocabulary for this scenario? We laugh. Wipe some of it off with pocket-sized Kleenex, and grimace. Look at each other, and at his sweater, and can’t help but to go back to laughing.
Having cleaned as much as possible, we move the car. The sweater is now in the trunk, but I think it is probably a lost cause. As Alyiah and Aunt come out of the office, Cousin and Friend get out the story while I am still laughing. All laugh, at what could easily be the close of some strange new sitcom.
Later I text Dan, and tell him the story and that I want to do something nice for Alyiah’s family to thank them for their help.
“Don’t understand about the poo. Rank. Will sort something out as a gift, but this happens all the time.”
I’m relieved to learn that he was referring to the helping hand for friends and family. I was worried he was talking about the poo.