Trans Eurasia travel

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Behind this complex of buildings a village sprawled; and right beside the fortress earthworks, across the highway from the caravanserai, stood that other stand-by of the traveller ever since people and animals began humping goods about, a chai-khana, the Central Asian equivalent of a transport cafe. This tea-house could not have been there for more than a year or two, but it had been fashioned in faithful imitation of the traditional style, with a series of very low tables at which each customer squatted cross-legged upon a padded bench. In one corner of the room, piled high against the wall, was a stack of multi-coloured quilts. The clientele when we went in consisted wholly of the hard men of the road: stocky fellows in shaggy fur caps and heavy coats who looked quite brigandish themselves, as they slurped up a greasy mutton and noodle soup, which they ate with thick discs of doughy bread.

"Apples in the Snow" by Geoffrey Moorhouse