December 31, 2001

# 003

THERE WAS THIS OTHER GROUP of Afghan tribesman armed with Russian guns and three photographers with them, two of them working for a NY newspaper and the other one for a news agency in Tokyo. When I arrived they were trying not to give them his discs containing digital photographs.

I am not sure what those tribesman -- I should call them tribeskids -- wanted. It seemed they had to ransack someone to have a story to tell when they got home. They were very young, perhaps the oldest one was 16 or 17 years old, and quite nervous. If there is one thing that scares me is being assaulted by a non-professional, and those high-graders who fled before they were taken to a kindergarten were not professionals at all! They were too young to know how to count up to "three" before shooting. They would do it in the "two" or even in the "one"!

After about 45 minutes the American soldiers came. Not like in those movies, when the cavalry arrives and the enemy runs away, I am afraid to say. The dead soldier in my cave would have had a greater influence on them. They just looked at what the kids were doing at us and one of them said, "Uh?" and the other answered "Uh, Uh". And walked away. Not of much help, considering the photographers had already given their discs with the digital photos that were in them.

It seemed I would be next and I didn't want to loose the pictures I had for nothing in this world. I still had my GPS in my hand and did the best I could to look at it as it was the most precious thing I had. It worked. They made a circle around me and had to point their guns up or down to come closer and see that little tech wonder.

The techniques from Dale Carnegie's book 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' I had just read -- ok, I confess I read those books, specially old ones -- would save the day. With the help of one of them as an interpreter, I explained in Arabic how you can find your enemy using a GPS. If I had taken a handful of that, they would gladly exchange their guns for them.

Because I had just one, they started arguing at who should keep it, 'I am the oldest' and 'Do you know who my father is?' and that kind of stuff. And now they had walked back widening the circle around me and were pointing their guns to each other and yelling like crazy. Guess who was in the midst of the circle? You guessed right, I was! I closed my eyes and expected for the worst. But don't be afraid. If I am writing this in the last day of the year, it means that was not the last day of my life. How I escaped? Next year I tell you. Which I hope, for you and for myself, will be better than this one that ends.