Mattias Fjäder charges into the waiting room with a loud and hearty "Salaam Sharaf!" offering a large and quite hairy hand in greeting. "Good to see you!", (continues in Uzbek)
«Really haven't seen you in a while, has life been treating you well?»
Sharaf Bukhari is seated in the waiting room, reading the New York Times somewhat slowly. He is an Uzbek army lieutenant with a tanned and slightly weathered appearance, perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties, he has neatly trimmed black hair with no trace of grey and his uniform is neat but without knife-creases. He has an expensive european watch on his wrist. When he hears his name, he rises to his feet quickly with a friendly expression: “Salaam Mattias”, (he continues in Uzbek)
«I am well Mattias, my life is without misfortune and my work has been free of trouble…until now perhaps.»
(he gives an amused frown)
«And your own life, Mattias? Is it free from trouble and are you well?»
(A broad smile that quickly turns serious)
«I am indeed well! As for trouble, some of it is sitting in the secure briefing room right now…»
(A wry smile)
«But then again, without trouble I would not have a job, so I shall not complain!»
Dr. Lowell zooms into the room and towards the far door, giving Fjäder a blank look of half-recognition and — wait, is it that guy again? — a puzzled look of 3/4ths recognition to Bukhari. I must have seen him last time I was here in Tashkent… coincidence? Ha! Surely there's no shortage of government minders and fixers. Worry about that later. What time is it? Got to get moving… He continues his zoom towards the exit (and his hotel room, somewhere at the far end of many bulletproof hallways, concrete barriers, and overpriced taxis), frowning a little more intensely.
"Erhm, doctor Lowell? This is…"
(feel free to butt in here, Kim!)
After the doctor has departed, back to Sharif, in english this time "Well, that was Dr Lowell, history professor and team mummyologist, not to mention a very loose cannon. Don't think he's violent, but… Let's say I think he has a low impulse control.
Glancing at the departing doctor, his eyes following in his wake, Sharaf continues addressing Mattias:
«I'm a little surprised to see you caught up in this mess. I thought you preferred commerce to politics?»
«Well, usually I do, businesses are usually easier to get along with, but… Well, I have a few quiet weeks, and want to get the lads at the office a chance to show if they are worth keeping or not. Also, someone has been vandalizing and stealing parts of the history of… Well, it might sound silly, but of what I consider my homeland.»
Sharaf gives Mattias a look that is somewhere between amusement and puzzlement but then a mask drops and he becomes more business-like:
«Well, I don't personally know who is behind the theft but I think your find that the local police will be happy to be rid of it. The investigation I mean, not the bones, probably no one cares about that.»
Sharaf continues in English now: "Where is your friend going? It might not be safe for him to travel alone at the moment and you must make sure he has a guard for his protection."
"Why do you say that? What has happened that affects street safety for foreigners in Tashkent?"
Sharaf looks a little surprised at the question, "Oh, you know how it is when there are political sensitivities or religious extremists and this time there is defiling of graves…it would be better for your friend if I knew where he was going and it would be best if we took him there ourselves."
"Hmmmm….. He's been in Uzbekistan several times, and he's going to a couple of libraries where they know him from before." Continues in Uzbek
«"I don't think he'll get in any real harm, and probably won't cause much trouble. But if you want someone to keep an eye on him I'll get someone on it right now. We could do it ourselves, of course, but the rest of them wanted to see you as soon as possible. You think it wise to put an embassy man on him?»
Sharaf appears indecisive for a moment.
«"No, I'll just have someone see that he arrives safely."»
Sharaf walks a little way away and pulls out a mobile, making a short call in quiet Uzbeki and returns. He continues in English: "It would be better if in future, the sensitivities of the situation were considered. It would help prevent misunderstandings."
Mattias gives Sharaf an exhasperated look,
"I think dr Lowell is difficult to misunderstand. He's a boorish, abrasive person and comes across as such very clearly. Not that it helps…" He glances at his watch. "They were wrapping up as I left, they should be finished in there by now. I wonder what's taking then so long…"
SA Nordman and Officer Lien exit the conference room on their way to the Supply and Motor Pool SA Nordman nods to the two men as he passes, all the while giving them a methodical, hands-chest-hips-thighs assessment.
Mattias is just about to start making introductions when he realizes that they are not going to stop. He returns the nod and says quietly to Sharaf in Uzbek:
«"That was the head of the team, SA Nordman, all business and protocol, that one. The woman with him is an apparently very highly skilled police from the states, Ms Lien. Don't treat her with anything but respect,or she will get angry. I guess they are too busy to see you right now… Let's have another one of these repulsive cups of coffee and you can tell me more about your family, remind me: how old has your son become?"»