Friday, August 19, 2016


I hired a taxi to take me to a Thanksgiving party.

 I thought it was in Kart-e-Char, the part of Kabul where I first lived, and close to the University of Kabul.

I usually rode my bicycle to get to Kabul University, and I got around fine, but at night I was totally lost.

My taxi driver had been driving for about five minutes. I told him to stop at one particular house and I would ask for directions.
 I saw a large American car in the garage, and I hoped that Americans lived in the house, but before I could find out I had to pay my taxi driver.
 He wanted more than we had agreed on, and so I paid a higher amount. 
But he wanted even more afghanis. I told him to forget it, and I walked to the house and knocked.
 A man (an American!) greeted me and asked what I needed. 
I told him my problem.  
He said, "Don't worry about him, just come with us. We're on our way to the movies." 

His wife and son were walking down the stairs, joined by a friend of the family, a minister.
The husband directed me through a door and into the garage, and told me to get into the large car.
 We were on our way, but so was the taxi driver, right on our tail.
Finally, we stopped and paid the taxi driver even more afghanis, but it was still not enough for the taxi driver! 
The husband sped off, and the taxi driver followed.
 It was now a car chase.

The minister in the back seat was praying.
The little boy said, “This is just like in the movies."
 I was getting nervous.
 I was sorry that I had gotten an innocent family involved.

We finally arrived back in Shar-i-Naw where I lived. The big car stopped in front of the United States Information Service building where the movie was being shown. 
I told my friends that I would get out before they parked and handle the situation. 
I thanked them, apologized, and got out of their large luxury car.
The taxi driver stopped his car and got out.
He started yelling at me, and I said in Farsi that he was crazy. 
This was the wrong thing to say. 
Before I knew it he was running after me.

I had on my over-sized Italian hiking boots and my usual three or four pairs of socks on. 
I kept just ahead of the taxi driver, turned a corner, and ducked into the entrance of a German restaurant that was on the third floor.
 I ran up the stairs and into the restaurant.

I sat down. 
I waited.
 For about five minutes I kept my eyes glued to the curtained entrance door.
 Ten minutes. Nobody entered. 
I bought some cigarettes. I started smoking again. I had quit two weeks earlier. 
As I was lighting up I knocked over the salt shaker when a couple entered. 
But it was not the taxi driver. 
He apparently had given up on finding me.

I stayed in the restaurant for two hours. 
I finally mustered up the mettle to leave.
 I cautiously looked up and down the streets, and found another taxi driver. 
This time I knew exactly where I was going: to my own house. 

I got out of the taxi a few blocks away from my house, and lo-and-behold, I walked right into the Thanksgiving party. 
I stayed long enough to tell a couple playing pool what had just happened.
 I wanted to go home and relax.


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