The hero Renat is no ordinary young man. He has a resourceful mind, extraordinary language skills and many friends and contacts throughout Russia and the world. He pulls all kinds of strings, a (tragi)comic saga, until Fate smiles upon him and sends him off on a scientific journey to Hargeisa. His task is to explore the intricate, non-standard economic system called “Hawala”, which can be found from India to the Middle East and North Africa. The system operates beside or outside the ordinary banking system and is based on a huge, complex network of money brokers who cooperate through honour code.
Arriving on the spot in eastern Africa, the young man in love finds it far easier to dedicate himself to ethnographic research than to find the girl. She is called Hawa – one of the many twinkles in the eye of the author – and in spite of the modern world full of technology, she remains in hiding and does not answer her phone or even check her e-mails. Instead of marrying the girl of his dreams, Renat gets to know the country and the people with the help of local friends of friends-and-acquaintances. He travels and visits banks and directors and clerics involved in unofficial money transactions. He dives into the Hawala system, which is as elusive as the girl, but present in a wide range of social, economic and political relationships. Between his frequent and frustrated phone calls to Hawa’s number he talks openly about his observations and experiences, both good and bad, and explains the history of the country.