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We have booked the place for a weekend with the intention of doing what locals do when the temperature drops – retreat to a cosy wooden hut with an outdoor sauna called a banya and a barbecue pit called a shashlik. It’s dark; full of stunning women gyrating to what I assume is Kazakh hip-hop, and there is an MC who raps verses in between songs that drive the women wild. To the right is a smaller room marked Private, for those who prefer the company of naked women.
The place comes with a karaoke system and disco balls that turn the living room into a tiny nightclub high above the city.“What about the police? Five shots of vodka later, a few of my friends take to the dance floor with abandon.
The iconography of the Russian Orthodox Church almost makes me want to convert to that religion.
I gauge how evolved a place is by looking at how it treats its lesser fortunate. The kerbs are marked clearly, with ramps for the disabled at every corner, pedestrian-friendly crossings and polite drivers.
The sauna is another favored spot for taking your date to, or you can get naked, hot and sweaty with your friends there over a few bottles of vodka. The girl is snatched to decrease the dowry payment, or for the groom to be sure of getting the girl without having to obtain her parents’ permission.
I didn’t have to wait more than 45 seconds with my arm outstretched before a vehicle screeched to a stop.As with other former Soviet countries there is a lot of intermarriage between locals and foreigners.Pick-up joints in Almaty where you can meet locals include Soho, the Guinness pub and the Admiral Nelson.Now registered citizens, they run small businesses and restaurants, speak Russian fluently and have absolutely no intention of returning to India. My friends and I decide to do something other than visit Dostyk Plaza, the mall every resident of Almaty appears to spend time in on weekends. The guys monitoring its Face Control system have deemed us unfit, possibly because most nightclubs find it strange when five single men turn up on a Saturday night.We ask friends who’ve lived here for decades to suggest something out of the ordinary, and they tell us to head for the hills.“Google translator,” says the Russian caretaker of a place up in the mountains, advising us on how we can converse, considering few people in the country speak English. We are directed to a smaller nightclub in the basement of the same complex instead.