We got our registration. We got our visas, our work permits, our foreigners registrations cards, our ID cards, our bell-bottomed jazz pants and our three headed monkeys. We can stay here, work, drive, eat and sweat, and no one can tell us not to. Until they do. This is Afghanistan. No guarantees, that’s a promise.
I won’t elaborate on the long final stages. Suffice to say Jalil was involved. Alot. There were trips to the bank. Waiting in queues. $1000 bond was handed over to a nameless man. Signatures were needed. Patience was called for. Tempers flared and were quelled. Elaborate Dari was spoken and thanks were given, repeatedly. Hands were shaken, many times. Men were kissed, sometimes twice, sometimes by accident.
In the long dark corridor of waiting that we slowly traversed, I passed the time by imagining two graveyards out the front of the Ministry of Economy, one for NGO leaders who had grown old and died waiting for registration, another for MOE staff who had been terminated abruptly by NGO leaders who had finally cracked. Fortunately neither of these scenarios eventuated for me, and on Monday afternoon I emerged triumphant, with the Certificate of Registration.
We celebrated by having Qabuli Pilau for lunch, and it tasted all the sweeter for our success. Actually, I made that up. It was not a very good pilau. The meat and the rice were very dry, the sultanas like little mouse poos, and the salad was yellowish. It was hot and foody, that’s about all you can say for it.
I took my camera with me on the many trips into town – some photos below. Some of these I plan to use for Hagar promotion purposes, I have manipulated them a bit in photoshop to bring out the atmospherics. Check out the Humvee – standard transport for the US troops. Ordinary people are required to give them a 50m safety perimeter, or risk getting shot. ‘Lethal force may be used’ as they say. They don’t like people taking their photos either – hence the hurried covert picture. Wouldn’t want to be lethally forced just after we get our registration…