Thursday, March 20, 2008

थे The Omen

There has been a lot that has happened the past few days.

I have gotten several job offers for jobs I don’t even remember applying. It seems that when you don’t really care to find a new position, they are all over, but when you really need or want a different contract, forget about it. So I don’t know what I will do. I really like it where I am and am not too keen on getting back in the mud.

Well the other day we got a new car with tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal in Afghanistan without a proper license. PSDs and military can get away with it, but otherwise it is generally reserved for politicians. Well we were going to head out for some looking around for stuff. I always use the excuse of needing to go look at stuff to get out of the office. When I noticed the windows were tinted I made a joke and said we were going to end up in the jail in Pol E Sharki. They said we would be fine. Famous last words right? As we were entering a traffic circle, out of nowhere comes this traffic police pointing his AK at us. I have to admit it caught me off guard and startled me. Well he pulls us over and asks to see the permit for our AK, which we have, and the permit for the tint, which we don’t have. So there we are sitting on the side of the road and all these people are walking round us. Not a huge deal but after about 20 minutes, it starts to suck.

Well of course I tried to bribe the cop. Didn’t work. Then I asked why we don’t just leave the car and get a cab. They kept saying 5 more minutes. Well I finally got in touch with the Afghan Army Commander that works for us and he showed up. They were threatening to take the car and all this stuff. I said to take the bloody car. Well they worked it out and we got out of there.

That should have been an omen. I guess I am not so good at omens.

Yesterday I managed a resupply of Jim Beam is how the story starts and it just gets worse. I also managed to get us some more beer. The “us” in this case are my fellow American co-workers. W, T, J and F for short. After performing my Class VI re-supply I proceeded to issue the replenishments to my fellow coworkers. Then I left them for a few hours.

At around 2000 we decided it was time to start heading out for dinner. We decided to try a restaurant that we had previously not been to, a Mexican food restaurant called La Cantina. The reviews stated that the food was not that great but there were some hot chicks working at the bar and that large numbers of expat females frequented the place. A good enough reason alone to go there. Well as we were all gathering and proceeding to head out, T, decided it would great if we brought one of our local staff with us, F. After much protesting by F, T managed to talk him into coming with us.

Remember the omen? Well because there were now 5 of us, and because the big Toyota was out of the question, we decided to take a van. You know, like a minivan. Well we all piled in and it soon became apparent by the volume of speech by W and T, that maybe they had already started to imbibe. Heavily.

The restaurant is located down a few side streets 3 blocks from the main drag in a dark alley. We arrived, got out and told the driver to leave, that we would call him when we needed to be picked up. Me, T, and J entered the small security booth to be scanned and proceeded into the courtyard. (Only 3 can fit at a time). W and F, our local, then proceeded to enter. When they observed that F was a local, they refused to let him in. You see, in many restaurants that serve alcohol, locals are not allowed to enter. So we tried to bribe them but they were not having any of it. Not just a few bucks either, we had 100$ for the guy. He probably only makes 150$ in a month and yet he refused to accept our gift. F decided he would just leave and get a Taxi, after some protesting on our part we reluctantly agreed to let him leave. Well then we decided that it would be wrong to do that and decided to take him to another restaurant that we know allows locals. The problem was that by the time we made our decision, F had disappeared into the alley way in search of a cab.

Not to be deterred by the fact that the guy was gone, T decided to take his country ass out into the alley and start bellowing out for him to come back. Well he was about 2 blocks away before I could convince him that what he was doing was not a good thing to be doing at night, unarmed and on a back alley way in downtown Kabul. Finally he stopped hollering and we came back to the restaurant. We called F on the phone and told him to come back, that were going to take him somewhere else. And we called our van to come back and get us.

Here is where the omen really comes into play. The van showed up and into we all piled. Ready to head on over to Red Hots and do some drinking. The show was back on the road and we had a plan!

Literally about 3 seconds later, as the van began to rumble down the dirty road, the entire front right tire assembly… fell off! This is when the mistakes really started to begin getting made. The 2 heavily intoxicated guys were hell bent on getting F to the restaurant. They decided to get a cab. Now in all of this, I was sort of playing it quiet. Partly because I was not happy to be standing in a dark alley in Kabul without a gun, and partly because the rest of them were making so much noise that I could lurk back in the shadows, next to a door, leading to an open courtyard and a nice strong wall, so that when the bullets started raining down on them, I could bolt.

The decision was made to relocate to the main drag because our replacement driver did not know where we were. This consisted of walking about a mile and a half down these dark alley ways to get back to the main drag. Fortunately nothing happened despite T’s best attempts at waking up the entire city. It was now about 2130. Our curfew is 2200. Well finally our replacement vehicle finally arrived. A Toyota Hilux. You know the Hilux, it is the white pickup truck you always see insurgents fighting out of in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yeah, that one. Well, the drunks, W and T, decided they would ride in the bed of the truck. Keep in mind they both have gray hair, big fancy white shirts on and the exact opposite complexion as saaaay, an Afghani. Well I wasn’t going to fight with them to sit in the bed, I just jumped in the cab and let their dumb asses sit in the back.

That might not have actually been a good idea either. You see, Kabul, like many cities in the Middle East, comes alive after dark. (Not where we were initially, but downtown, on the main drag). And there are many sights and smells and lights and commotion. And somewhere between the restaurant and the main drag, W and T must have concluded that we had walked to Tijuana. There they were yelling and waving and saying hi to everyone. Shouting “wooooo!!!” to any large group of people. Fortunately most of those groups wooo’d back. I was waiting for the AK rounds to begin impacting my flesh and bones.

Well they didn’t. We made it safely to Red Hots which was about 5 clicks away, got loaded and had a great time, and then at around 2300 or so, we called our driver and he came and got us. This time they brought 2 cars, which I thought was a good omen.



Blogger The Phantom said...

Walt... you guys must have balls the size of grapefruit to be out running around like that at night. LOL. Great read though!

The Phantom

Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 11:02:00 PM GMT+3  
Blogger Walt said...

Bro, we had a great time!

Monday, April 21, 2008 at 3:55:00 PM GMT+3  

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