As the top ISI man in Russia, one of Hussain’s main responsibilities was to recruit agents from inside the Federal’naya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii (FSB), the principal security agency of Russia and the main successor to the KGB.
It required formidable experience and skills, as well as a lot of charm, to recruit an agent from another country’s spy agency and to turn her or him into a double agent for your own country, and Hussain had had quite a few successes under his belt. In his earlier postings at Dubai and Muscat, he had turned RAW agents into double agents for ISI. Some of them had turned out to be pretty useful, and this had resulted in his getting posted to Russia – India’s best friend. Even at Moscow, apart from looking for FSB agents to turn, he was always on the lookout for RAW agents as well.
He started frequenting bars that his predecessors had told him were spy favourites, especially FSB’s women officers who themselves were looking at doing to foreign spies precisely what Hussain wanted to do to them – ‘turning’ them or making them ‘double agents’. FSB employed hundreds of ravishing females who could easily honey-trap foreign spies. Hussain was too good to fall for something like this – he had put in seventeen long years with the ISI and had ‘been there, done that’.
On this particular Friday evening, the Brigadier left his office to visit Papa’s Bar & Grill to get a drink and catch some light dinner. He entered the bar and hung his knitted beanie and insulated waterproof winter coat on the coat pole near the entrance. Underneath he was wearing a dark-grey two-piece suit, made by a cheap roadside tailor in his hometown, Karachi. As he turned to move towards the bar counter to try and find a vacant barstool, he saw her.
Thirty-six-year-old Katya Petrov had been an FSB officer for nine years. She was a dark-ash-blonde beauty with hazel-green eyes, high cheekbones, and full, sensual lips. Her beauty was accentuated by her long, slender legs and fantastic natural assets that she did almost nothing to hide, wearing low-cut mini dresses even in Moscow’s inclement cold October weather. Russian women are arguably considered the most beautiful in the world, and Katya would definitely put a full stop to any such argument among men.
Hussain made himself a regular visitor at Papa’s Bar & Grill, but was careful to see that she noticed him at least four to five times before he first approached her. This was his way to ensure that she did not think he was chasing her for any reason – personal or official. He had not become an ace spy without practising the best tricks of the trade.
This Saturday evening, she was wearing a short, black bandeau dress with a side slit, and looked absolutely stunning. Hussain just could not stop staring at her before finally deciding that today was going to be the day.
He was dressed casually in a green sweatshirt and black jeans, as it was his day off. He walked through the overcrowded bar and introduced himself.
“Hello, myself Farooq Hussain. I am new in your city…that is, if you are belonging to Moscow.”
“Hello Mr. Hussain, yes, I’m a Muscovite, and pleased to meet such a handsome man. Where do you come from?” She was hoping he would say India, but the name and the accent sounded Pakistani.
“I am belonging to Pakistan. May I have the pleasure of buying you a drink?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“What is your poison, a Vodka shot maybe?”
“I will have a Gorki, thank you.”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know that drink.”
“It’s a cocktail made with Khortytsa Platinum vodka, Cointreau, Benedictine, and a touch of milk.”
“So every cocktail in Russia has some vodka?” Hussain asked, while requesting the barman for two Gorkis.
“That may be true for most people, but I also drink champagne, and champagne-mixed cocktails, although that’s usually in the summers.”
“You have summers in Moscow?”
She told him that June, July and August are summer. He wondered what summer in Moscow meant, he was only posted there in September, and it was already quite cold.
“I don’t know your name yet, beautiful lady.”
“I’m Katya Petrov,” she said, offering her petite hand forward. Instead of shaking her hand, he kissed the back of the palm.
“You are so much like a true gentleman. Do you know that Russian women like such men?”
“Thank you, I’m very flattered with all your praises tonight. What is it you do, Katya, and how do you speak such good English?”
“I work in our ministry of foreign affairs and I speak five languages. In fact, that’s how I got the job, for my… how do they say…linguistic skills.”
“Any specific role in the foreign ministry?”
Katya was not interested in revealing that in their very first meeting. “Let’s have another Gorki,” she said.
They had two more Gorkis each, while talking about varying subjects: places to see in Moscow, other good bars and restaurants including ones Hussain had already visited, Moscow weather compared to Karachi’s in different months, and other general stuff.
After the three Gorkis and long conversation, they downed ‘one for the road’ – a customary vodka shot – exchanged phone numbers, and left the bar, separately, promising to meet soon. She was not just hot, but interesting to talk with, also.
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