Red tape nightmare

25 April 2011

JPEG - 63.7 kb
Aurel’s new brothers
JPEG - 34.9 kb

We’ve found it: The camera obscura we’ve been looking for a week is finally materializing itself.
We had an appointment at Nabi Zada photography to see it, and after having carefully analyzed it, and made sure it had all the accessories we needed, Aurel settled on a price with Nabi. It’s a camera that has never been used and was made shortly before the digital cameras invaded the market, therefore making it obsolete when it arrived in the store.
It’s made out of wood and covered with green imitation leather. The camera is in a fairly good shape, and a bit of work on it to make it totally light proof should do the job.
Now, having some photo paper we brought from Turkey, the only thing we need to find are the chemicals to develop the pictures. None of the photo stores sell it anymore, so our best bet is to go to the last photographer in town that uses this type of camera. After having our photos taken, he hooks us up with some developer and fixative that he gets through Pakistan. Now, we’re ready to start across town to take portraits of people.

JPEG - 68.6 kb

We’ve also started doing some work on the bus. Aurel fixed some mechanical flaws, and we laid a new floor made out of plywood inside the cabin of the bus. The only tools we have are a tape measure printed ribbon, a Leatherman, some screwdrivers, and a couple of power tools a friend lent to us. It makes the work quite challenging so we won’t be too picky on the finished product.

JPEG - 45.7 kb
One of the many office’s we’ve been through at the Ministry of Traffic.
JPEG - 49.5 kb

We’ve spent a huge amount of time dealing with paperwork. The road pass (the passport for the bus which allows to cross borders) is still in the hands of the Afghan administration, and without it, the bus can’t get out of the country. You need to understand that it’s not a common piece of paper. We were told that it’s the second road pass being made in Afghanistan since 1978!!! It’s now been ten days of bouncing from department to department, going from the ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Department of Traffic, trying to understand what’s going on in Dari (the language spoken in Aghanistan, that Aurel speaks quite well, thank god!). So, we wait in line among a lot of other men (women are not allowed), finally accessing some office to be told that we need to go somewhere else. An amazing maze, the most Kafkaesque situation we’ve ever been in. It’s a very frustrating experience, where Aurel has to deploy his humor in Dari to make the officials laugh and try to get what we need. And it works almost every time… They laugh and they like us, but without any results for our road pass. We’re hopeful though, that our efforts will lead somewhere. As soon as we get it (if we do), we’ll get the bus shipped to Herat (city close to the border of Iran), from where Aurel will start driving and try to cross the Iranian border.

JPEG - 54.8 kb
Lonely Aurel facing the Afghan administration

Also in this section