You are still not fully aware of last Saturday’s exasperation and my need for Valiums. You see the night before the laissez-passer A-38 drama. My friend had come over for a visit. We were still on lockdown (can’t leave your house) as the treat level was still high.
I like my freedom and when she told me there was a little gathering for a birthday party I kind of wanted to go but I was well aware of the fact it could be an issue, since there are many police checkpoints in the city and most people let them invade your privacy by opening your doors (giving them access-which is a no, no in my world). I fit in the contractor’s category and my friend is a tree hugger. Most of my friends are tree huggers- they are more fun and intellectual, but they never believe there is a treat or security issues in Afghanistan or the whole world that is. Everyone is nice and as long as you respect each other nothing bad will ever happen to you.
Before we left my compound on Friday I had a ‘hugh’ moment where I realized I had forgotten my passport in my room, we were at the gate and she said ”who cares just say it’s at the Ministry of Finance because you need to renew your visa. We always provide them with the same bullshit excuse and it’s never caused us problems. Besides we never get stopped at check points.” I had organized to sleep at her villa and thought that during the day you rarely get profiled by the police.
Why did I listen to her?
En route to her place, we were confident that all would go well. First, check point they stop us I tell my friend that she has a bottle of Vodka in her purse, she panics and tries to take it out of her purse. ‘‘It’s too late put it back in your purse. Act normal.’’ I was fuming inside, because three to four scenarios could happen. I could go to jail because I was not carrying a passport with a valid visa or because we had alcohol or they were going to demand a whole lot of back shish money(bribe) or best case scenario they keep the bottle and we go.
They asked for passports, demanded to know why I didn’t have mine. I flashed a military badge I possess (thank you laisser-passez A-38 that worked) and it seemed to calm them. So they let us go. Three minutes later we arrive to another check point where we are stopped again. They were the corrupted ones I could tell and one spoke English and asked me where I was from. I said Jamaica, non-related western country and flashed my badge again. He asked me one thousand questions as to why I didn’t have my passport. He then took my friends passport and contemplated it and saw her purse. Shit! He wanted to look inside. Big mistake. We were told later to say no, we are requesting that a woman look inside our purse as they are not allowed to search women. Sneaky bastard!
He found what he was looking for the Smirnoff. ” You are not allowed, it is illegal. Where did you get this bottle?’’ he said in Dari. I don’t know how I understood but I told my friend (I’ll call her Jenifer it’s annoying to write friend all the time) ”Dubai, say Dubai,” which she did. He still said it was illegal.
I was going to say it makes no sense, as we just arrived from the airport and the police over there scan your bags as you exit the airport and when they see liquor they steal the alcohol of their choice by stating this is an Islamic country it is against the law crap and leave you with the rest or none. They usually go for whiskey. If they say it is acceptable, why are the police in the streets always trying to confiscate them or send you to jail for not reason? It’s money or personal consumption. They can sell these bottles at a hefty price. Islamic Republic of Afghanistan??! Bullshit! Actually, the law state that you are allowed to bring a reasonable amount of alcohol in the country. But who is going to dispute that with a riffle pointed at your head.
I was seething inside, but my friend kept it cool and told him she would pour the bottle in the street. The malicious cop disagreed he wanted her to walk over by the bush and empty the bottle, here in the middle of the road it would smell. Sure, she’s going to get out of the car so you can shoot her in the back. We know what you guys do. She said ”no” and poured the bottle. They had no recourse, seemed extremely put out they didn’t gain anything from this event, I slammed the car door in their faces and told the drivers to leave.
They left. We just stared at each other knowing we had edged over a precipice. I knew I should have stayed home. I asked her why her afghan drivers didn’t even try to speak or help us. She said that for an Afghan if they are found with alcohol it’s an automatic go to jail card or they get beaten in the street and then thrown in jail. I also later learned one of her friends was caught in the same situation and when she went to pour the alcohol the cop stopped. He preferred someone would enjoy instead of none. Well, that was not our case.
This is why I prefer traveling in armoured vehicles. None of that stopping at check points. When the cops hail you, you just continue. What are they going to do? Shoot, sure. Waste of time and they know it.
The worst part of this story is the Mofo kept her passport. He never handed it back. Jennifer went back to the check point twice where one cop seemed genuinely concerned and the other was smug and arrogant but told her to come back at 8pm that night. I thought she was crazy, she said she came ready with her back shish money. Yes, more reasons for them to throw you in jail. Jennifer is fine, but never received her passport. He did gain something from that evening. Jerk. He did it in spite.