Oslo Dec. 14, 2001
Afghanistan and the loss of two cars
As you are reading this e-mail, I’m preparing a trip to Afghanistan. I’m
not sure I’m going to be able to move into Afghanistan. There are a couple
of reasons for that. First of all, I’m working as a freelance journalist,
and I have no organization to give me financial support to move into a war
torn area. The big news organizations spend quite a lot of money, way more
than I can afford.
My beloved Audi 90 from 1985 has died, despite heroic efforts from this car electric. He saved the car from a fire, but that was not enough.
a lot of people in Afghanistan who want to make a profit from the war, and
everything is quite expensive. The other thing is that I have no organization
to take care of me if something goes wrong. However, even if I know that
eight of my colleagues have been killed, that is not what is stopping me.
The financial constraints are more important.
I’m not immune to the risk. Today I was attending a seminar in Oslo for journalists
working in war areas. I was able to hear the eyewitness account of the photographer
of the Swedish TV4 who was executed on Nov. 26 in Afghanistan. The reporter
of TV4 told us how he tried to save the life of his colleague after he got
a bullet from an automatic rifle in the chest.
A story like
this makes a big impression, but it would not prevent me from entering Afghanistan
if I have the money for it. I want to find out what is going on in this region
and try to make some sense of it.
What I will
do is to get to the Pakistani border city Peshawar. This is where the international
journalists gather, and I’ll see if there is a possibility to move in with
some of them. Under any circumstance, it is very important to travel with
colleagues, and you also need a good fixer who can be a translator and local
guide. I’ll update you on that story later on.
And now let
me give you the story how I lost two cars the last couple of months.
Earlier this fall, I purchased a bright yellow Yugoslav mini car in Belgrade,
and my project was to drive it from Belgrade to Oslo. The car only had 24
horsepowers, and my friends in Belgrade were mocking me. They did not believe
that I would be able to make it to Oslo in this car. Read the full story
of The Journey and
Technical control in Belgrade. My Yugoslav mini-car is in perfect shape. It made it to Norway, but then it had a sudden death when I missed a turn at the entry of a tunnel. Read more here.
that car, but I also lost my beloved Audi 90 from 1985. I just called it
Hero because it has been though a lot. In the six months I owned the
car, Hero took me over 30,000 kilometers all over the former Yugoslavia.
However, with such an old car you are bound to have problems.
ago I was heading to Montenegro on a job, and 100 kilometers from the Montegrin
capital Podgorica, the gas pump decided to fall off. I’ve lost count of all
the times my car has been in the shop. So, my Serbian friend Bojan who came
with me helped me getting a tow truck, and I was taking the last leg to Podgorica
on the back of a tow truck.
I was finally able to get my car fixed, but at that point I was quite sick
of my car, even if we’ve had a good relationship. Back in Belgrade I left
my car with my Serbian friends when I went back to Oslo.
But the death
had to come to Hero as well. One day I got a phone call. One of my
Serbian friends had been involved in an accident, and Hero is now totally
wrecked. My stupid Serb friend didn’t use seatbelts, and he had to spend
some days in the hospital. Of course, the most important is that he’s OK
now. I also have to tell you that when I’m driving, I’m forcing my Serb friends
to wear seatbelts. They hate me for that :-)
My life seems to be all about cars at the moment. The job I did in Montenegro
was about stolen cars from Western Europe. Montenegro is known as the capital
for stolen cars in Europe. A famous joke down there is, "Holiday in Montenegro:
Your car is already there waiting for you."
A nice Mercedes C200, Kompressor in downtown Podgorica. No plates on the car. Probably stolen. About 95 percent of all the new cars in Montenegro are stolen.
going deep, and I’ve talked to the dealers down here and also to corrupt
police officers. Now I have a pretty good understanding of how this trade
works. Many times it is more pure insurance fraud instead of classical theft
of cars. The dealers I’ve talked to down here tells me that it is almost
impossible to steal a new car. This seems to be a game where the original
owners are just as guilty as the people selling the cars.
But I still
have some investigation left on this story before it’s ready to go. I’ll
take care of that when I’m back from Talibanistan. I’ll update you on that
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