May 25, 2009

Hear about, become the object of, and witness the beginning of a bridal kidnapping

Before leaving Karakol, me and the Aussie’s had a goodbye dinner with our Altan Arashan horseguide, Almas. Having heard of the strange and disturbing Kyrgyz tradition of bridal kidnapping, Rachel casually pried, “So, Almas, how did you meet your wife?” Almas replied, “I catch her.” With our eyes wide open in disbelief, Almas went on to explain that he had once said hello to his wife on the street. Knowing he wanted to marry her after this brief meeting, he rounded up two of his friends and a taxi, followed her and then stuffed her in the car and drove off. As the romance of this was gripping Rachel’s and my heart, he proceeded to tell us that his wife cried every night for the first three months but now, a few years and two children later, it seems to be better.
This story put me on high alert. We had just come from the Denni Wallet Debacle, where one of the officer’s had taken a liking to me. I was sure he was already reving up the engine in the police van, waiting to pluck me from the dark streets of Karakol as my friends would be forced to listen to the sirens muffle my screams, but luckily after dinner, choosing to walk incognito through the park, I narrowly escaped my own sure kidnapping.
Now that we were on to the fact that romantic bridal kidnappings still happen in Kyrgyzstan, it was easy to spot the beginning of one while walking on the street in Bishkek. Noticing the three men walking in front of me, I exclaimed to Rachel, “Look! A Kidnapping! A Kidnapping!” One of the boys was carrying, in one hand, a bouquet of roses and, in the other, a pair of boxing gloves. It was clear we were bearing witness to young Kyrgyz love in action and if we didn’t have to pick up our Uzbek visas we would have followed them and saw the climax of future bride getting punched in the face, stuffed in a taxi and handed a lovely bouquet of roses.

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