There was a time when Aravan, a bazaar town in a dusty corner of Kyrgyzstan’s Osh province, was awash in booze.
Shamil Iminov, a 40-year-old owner of a shop trading in alcohol, recalls those days fondly. From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, “vodka, beer and wine were sold on almost every street corner,” Iminov told EurasiaNet.org. “Vodka was poured by bucket-loads at public festivities and wedding feasts. We were making a lot of money then.”
It has been years since it was so easy to get a drink. A surge of Islamic piety in the town has made indulging a taboo, and many once-busy purveyors of alcohol have been strongly encouraged — by various means — into giving up this lucrative business.
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Alisher Khamidov is a writer based in Bishkek. Danil Usmanov is a photographer based in Bishkek.