Two months later, as we had agreed, we met in Tiflis, and went from there to the Transcaspian region intending to go to Bukhara; but on reaching the ruins of Old Merv, we stayed there for about a year. First of all, to explain why this happened, it must be said that long before our decision to go to Bukhara together, the professor and I had had many talks and made many plans for somehow getting into Kafiristan, the very country which it was then quite impossible for a European to enter at will.
We wished to go there chiefly because, according to all the information we obtained from conversations with various people, we had come to the conclusion that in that country we might find answers to a great many questions which interested us, both psychological and archaeological.
In Tiflis, we had begun to supply ourselves with everything necessary for our journey to Bukhara, including letters of introduction, and we happened to meet and have conversations with various people who knew those regions. As a result of these conversations and our own discussions afterwards, our desire to enter Kafiristan, inaccessible as it was to Europeans, became so intense that we decided to do everything possible to go there immediately after Bukhara.
All our previous interests seemed to disappear, and the whole way to Turkestan we thought and talked only about what measures we would have to take to carry out this daring project of ours. But a definite plan for getting into Kafiristan happened to take shape in the following circumstances:
When our train stopped at the station of New Merv on the Central Asiatic Railway, I went to the buffet to get some hot water for tea, and as I was returning to our carriage I was suddenly embraced by a man in Tekinian clothes.
This man turned out to be my good old Greek friend Vasiliaki, a tailor by profession, who had been living in the town of Merv for a long time. On hearing that I was passing through on my way to Bukhara, he implored me to wait until the next day’s train and come to the big family festivities which were to take place that very evening on the occasion of the christening of his first child.