Post details: Good Cops (Driving in Pakistan pt 3)

2006-05-15

//Permalink 04:00:22 pm, Categories: Pakistan, 1805 words  

Good Cops (Driving in Pakistan pt 3)

So, I've got my very own police escort. Who da Man? What was to follow was my worst day and my greatest evening in Pakistan.

The police car finally arrives, basically your average pick up truck with a couple of uniformed police men on benches in the back with semi automatic guns. Nothing to worry about.

[More:]

I am like the travelling road show. Wherever I turn up, huge crowds gather around. I'm not selling tickets or potions, but if I did - there would be plenty of customers present. I have no idea if these people have jobs or not, families waiting for them at home, Schools, homework? Kids and grown up men alike, stop in their tracks and ....stare. Hang around. For as long as it takes. Waiting for something to happen.

And it does. I'm outside the hotel, having just ridden my motorcycle down the flight of stairs, supported by policemen with heavy guns. I'd feel safer if they supported me WITHOUT the guns, but HEY! who speaks english? One policeman has to shoo! away the crowds so that I don't run over someone on my way down. It's only about 08:30 in the morning but it is already very very hot outside.

The officer in charge is getting impatient (he is comfortably waiting in the cool front seat of the car) and starts honking the horn as to explain that we need to get going - his number one priority of the day is not escorting foreign motorcyclists through desert landscapes. I have been waiting on them for an hour, so I'm not arguing - I'm ready to GO! So I put on my gloves and helmet, and kick start the engine. It runs for a little while then starts to sputter and eventually dies on me. Hmmm. I remove the soot covered spark plug, clean it and put it back. Kickstart, and the motor is running. We're off!

Just outside of town and it starts giving me trouble again. Sputter, jerks, sputter and then the engine dies once more. I pull over to the side of the road. The police escort stops and waits. Watch me while I remove the plug a second time, clean it again and put it back. We're off.

The third time. I've realized that it's my carburettor acting up, and that that's what causing my spark plug to soot up so quickly. I dissassemble my carburrettor and clean it out, blow the passages and remount it. New spak plug this time. We're off.

I can almost see the chief in front rolling his eyes and hitting his head against the dash board the next time I stop. I walk over to them and explain that I need a mechanic wallah to check out my bike. We get going again and I eventually get my bike to the nearest mechanic.

You wouldn't believe these guys. It's like when you are a kid and you've put on a cowboy hat and gunbelt and say; I'm a cowboy, I'm a cowboy! This is how it works with the local mechanics. Get some tools and a sidewalk to dismantle things on, and that's all the qualifications you'll need to be a mechanic. If someone knows more about it than you, chances are they will be next door with their very own signs saying 'Next Door Mechanic Wallah'.

First of all. If he's done it before, he can do it again. If he's never seen the likes of your bike - then he has little or no clue and may end up causing more harm than good. In my case I didn't have a choice, so I had to stick it out. The problem is that as a crowd gathers, he sitting there and doesn't really know what to do. He does what I've done - removes and cleans the spark plug, justifies his opening of the carburettor by taking out a pair of plyers and start tapping and bending stuff inside. I'm thinking, DOES he or DOES he NOT know what he's doing?? Hard to tell (not being a mechanic myself). It's now about noon and burning hot outside. When he starts to 'fix' things that are not at all related to the engine, I have to stop him - just get the bike running please!

We fire it up and it is actually running. Wow! 'Max the sceptic' once again proven wrong! A little mending and bending in the carburettor was all it took...? I gratefully pay the man, and wake up my police escort: Time to go!

No need to say, I'm getting tired of writing this. After a few kilometers; Sputter, Throttle, Sputter, Stop, Kick, Start, run, sputter, throttle, run, throttle, run, sputter, throttle, sputter, Stop, Clean, Kick, run, Sputter, Throttle, Sputter, Stop - so on and so forth. Turns out the Mechanic didn't have a clue afterall. On top, his bending and mending of the float in my carburettor was causing fuel to overflow (as I noticed by a puddle of gasoline underneith my bike couple of days later).

If you try you can see me there before your eyes; roadside on a dusty desolate landscape in Pakistan, a crew of heavily armed and extremely bored policemen in a blue pickup truck. My hands are covered in oil, I'm drenced in Sweat in my thick leather outfit, as one of (my newly arrived) spectators politely informs me in english (he's a teacher) that: "Oh yes, Jacobabad is in fact the hottest city on earth!" Just the place you'd want to get stranded. And Kicking alive a dead enfield is a HARD job as anywone who's ever been near one will tell you.

But fate has it that Jacobabad (besides VERY LIKELY being the worlds hottest city) - also had something else going for it; a decent mechanic! This one opened my carburettor, got out some high pressured air and blew open all the passages. Dismanteled all the small pieces inside, cleaned them and remanteled it all. Another helpful spectator was shaking his head and pulling at my jacket. He was very eager to inform me that "These guys can't fix anything, they have NO idea what they're doing. You go by bus to Quetta!". Thanx alot, just what I needed to hear! Hmmm. I've got 3 months left of my trip and a one month visa for Pakistan. No problem! Plenty of time to get stranded in the middle of nowhere!

But what is this.....? Problem fixed! Bike runs clean as a whistle! My police escort can't believe their luck, I finish off my cup of tea and put my outfit back on. It's already afternoon and there is no way I'll get to Quetta now.

We drive across dusty plains on cracked and crooked roads. We have left the indus valley, vegetation is getting scarse and turning brown. Traffic is light and consists mainly of heavily decorated and (often extremely) overloaded - pakistani truks. We reach a police check post where my ecort leaves my before heading back to Sukkur. There are a few police men sitting around and they motion me to wait as they bring me a cup of chai. Next police escort will arrive shortly!

As they arrive a half an hour later, they are asking me about my destination. I say that I'm going to Quetta, but that I realize that it's too far to drive as the sun is already setting. They suggest that I go to their headquarters to stay the night - Sibi it is! Go with the flow.

As it is getting darker the police escort becomes more of a beacon. I just follow the tail lights that lead me straight into Sibi. A small town in the middle of nowhere, brown mud houses all around - faces in the dark, no street lights. I'm led to the police station, a High walled fortress with iron gates in the labyrinth network of streets. I get to meet (and be questioned by) the Chief of Police who has no clue as to what I'm saying (and vice versa). A younger officer is called and helpfully acts as a translator.

Him: Do you want sex or security?

Me: WHAT?! Him: Do you want sex or security? Do you want to stay in hotel or in police station? We finally agreed that security would be best option for me on that particular evening so I got to sleep at the police station!

The Chief of police took some telephone calls, talked some more to his interpretor then jerked his thumb at the back. I was told that I could sleep on the floor in his office, he'd be working till about two o'clock in the morning. Then I could crash on the floor and sleep there if I wanted to. The room was scarsely furnished and there wasn't much there really, but all I needed was a place to sleep.

I parked my motorcycle, no need to lock it up - armed watchmen would be up all night. I was led by my new found friend to their sleeping quarters, some simple huts outside the police station to pass the time. We sat on great carpets on the floor and watched pakistani tv. Being the polite hosts, they found a tv channel with an american movie on it - but I was so embarrased by bad actors acting a bad plot - so I told them I prefered pakistani programs.

I was brought tea and dinner. I shared their meal with them, a paste of lenses and Roti (pakistani bread), eating it with our hands. We ate and talked - a few other officers had joined us - they bombarded me with questions and more tea. Did I have a wife? Oh, how beautiful hair! What religion did I have? Did I believe in Love marriage? (a few of the officers were strong supporters of Love marriages, having girlfriends they were not 'allowed' to marry by their respective families)

We had a great time, and when time came I wasn't allowed to sleep in the Police Chief's office afterall - I must of course sleep in their sleeping quarters! I was given a bed while it's owner insisted on him sleeping on the floor. I was handed sleeping pants to change into, that would easily have fitted me and a couple of friends inside. They wanted me to take some pictures of them, so I got out my camera to everyones joy and excitement; First me! First me! Now ME! Like this! And like this! Now me and YOU! Now him and YOU! Every possible combination you can think of. I felt I'd known these guys for years, and YES - I really will send them a copy of the pictures as I'd promised.

Turns out security was not such a bad option. Although I'm still curious about the sex.

Comments:

Comment from: Sølve [Visitor]
hirr hirr... der var du heldig, den sex'en kunne vel fort blitt en runde med the Chief tenker jeg... ;-)
Permalink 06/01/06 @ 19:09
Comment from: Astrid [Visitor]
wow
litt av en opplevelse
Permalink 06/02/06 @ 22:57

Comments are closed for this post.

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