Ticketless Traveler

Dhobi - Ticketless TravelerThe Shivaratri Festival in Kathmandu is the destination of pilgrims throughout North India. What better way to spend “Lord Shiva’s Night” than by blasting chillum after chillum in honor of the blue-throated god of the high Himalayans. Bom Shankar! Dhobi spent two days camped on the railway station platform in preparation for the trip.  A sign in the depot warned “Ticketless Travel is a Social Evil.”  Dhobi purchased a ticket and watched the comings and goings of travelers at the station.  He wanted to be extra sure of the procedure before striking out on his own.  Third Class Unreserved was in theory “first come first served.”  In actual practice, however, those who pushed hardest managed to get inside the railway car.  All others had to hang onto the outside.

When the express train pulled in, Dhobi was prepared.  As planned he was among the first to crowd into the car — but at what expense!  No sooner had he sat down when he realized something was missing–his wallet.  A thief had picked his pocket in the stampede to climb aboard.

What a dilemma!  If he left to get a new ticket, he’d lose his seat on the train.  If he stayed without a ticket, he’d risk eviction from the car.  Then Dhobi remembered, his money too was stolen.  That settled matters; there was no way to procure a ticket before the conductor came through the car.  Dhobi sat still and rehearsed his appeal as the miles clacked by.

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BUSTED! - The Comic Book Legal Defence Fund.

Well! BUSTED! This ten part series & a prequel is great. So here we are: http://theflowerraj.org/ . We promote the stories of our small band of  travellers. Nine years since we began.We want to collect & collate these lives before we are all gone, those who made the long journeys overland in the 50s & 60s, those who flew out from California with Owsley LSD dripping from their pockets, We are all old & have not much time left.

 

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“BUSTED!” – PART VI

Front entrance to Zendan Vakilabad, the 1970s prison at Vakilabad, west of Meshed, Khorasan, Iran, before its partial destruction by the prisoners (including the author) in 1978/79 at the end of this series. (A still from a BBC documentary on the prison, made by Adam Curtis in 1977)

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“BUSTED!” – PART V

Front entrance to Zendan Vakilabad, the 1970s prison at Vakilabad, west of Meshed, Khorasan, Iran, before its partial destruction by the prisoners (including the author) in 1978/79 at the end of this series. (A still from a BBC documentary on the prison, made by Adam Curtis in 1977)

Continue reading ‘“BUSTED!” – PART V’

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“BUSTED!” – PART IV

Front entrance to Zendan Vakilabad, the 1970s prison at Vakilabad, west of Meshed, Khorasan, Iran, before its partial destruction by the prisoners (including the author) in 1978/79 at the end of this series. (A still from a BBC documentary on the prison, made by Adam Curtis in 1977)

DEEP IN THE DUNGEON, SOMETHING STIRRED

Down the Rabbit Hole…

I was making progress in the Zendan. My unforeseen stay at Vakilabad prison, out in the Khorasan desert to the west of the ancient, holy city of Meshed was taking off quite agreeably. After two nights inside the imposing, modern fortress I sat on my top bunk, waiting impatiently for the sun to rise and my new life to begin.

My personal bunk in the prison’s prestige ‘block one’ was the top one of three in the cell of the prison’s main dealer in black-market fresh eggs, a middle-aged and mild-mannered murderer by the name of Rehman Mohammed. The middle bunk was unoccupied, which put a bit of space between us.

I sat on a new foam-rubber mattress wrapped in its white cotton sheet, looking through a wide window high up in the cell’s eastern wall. The first grey light of dawn was already pushing at the starlight. My life had just changed forever. Circumstances beyond my control were conspiring to free me from my aimless lifestyle so I had to review the situation.

The forced release from old ways and habits opened new options since I no longer had the distraction of having to provide for my physical requirements. After escaping the west for India ten years before as an aspiring idealist in search of spirituality, I felt perhaps I’d lost my way. Here and now was an opportunity to get back on track. To kick-start my reformation there was a library of 3,000 books left behind by previous occupants who’d done their time and then moved on. I would ‘catch up on my reading’.

On day one, I’d listened to the advice and opinions of ‘senior’ western prisoners who were allocated to this prestige block thanks to Iranian sensitivities to international criticism of SAVAK’s treatment of political prisoners. They’d offered various views about the best kind of attitude to adopt here. Their attitudes ranged from antagonism based on aggressive ideas of racial superiority that called for endless struggle against our captors, to more positive and tolerant attitudes positing Iranians as our colleagues, allies and equals with whom good relations should be nurtured so that we could all pass a more peaceful time while detained. For me, the latter approach was a no-brainer.

I sipped black tea thoughtfully as the sun came up and my new friends in block one stirred themselves from their beds and performed ablutions. The foreign contingent to whom I belonged had formed an early morning runners club. As soon as the sun was up and the external door was unlocked, they gathered in their joggers and set off in a pack, with me joining in at the rear. The air was fresh and clean as the field opened up with the fittest striding easily out in front and the less fit, including me, puffing along behind.

After twenty circuits of the yard a halt was called and the runners group broke up, some going to the gym to do more fitness training, some to shower and others, like me, just to collapse on their bunks and recover! After a good rest I took a hot shower, by which time Giorgio and Anker were at the samovar to fill their teapots. They seemed in a good mood and invited me to follow them for tea together. I brought the bread and the several bits of butter and jam that I’d grabbed from my 5 AM visit to the mess for subhana and we sat on the floor and in the bottom bunk for a kind of picnic.

“How did you slip, rosbif?” asks the Italian to start a conversation. I replied that I slept very well, woke up early, went to subhana and “made a few plans”.

“What plans, you stupid rosbif?” asked Giorgio mockingly, “there ain’t nothin’ to plan here, it’s a bloody fuckin’ prison, you idiot! All you can plan to do here is to go for a sheet.”

“You speak for yourself, stronso di merda,” I shot back with a laugh, “that’s just for Italians; it’s all you can do ’cause all Italians have shit for brains.” (‘Shit for brains’ was a phrase in constant use here, I’d noted the previous day). Giorgio and Anker smiled, surprised, and exchanged a glance. Giorgio didn’t know yet that I’d worked four years in Pakistan for a big Italian contractor from Milano and had learned a few choice Milanese expressions from my colleagues there.

“I’ve already completed most of those plans!” I continued. “I planned to get up early, go for a run, take a hot shower, bring you guys all my food for your fuckin’ breakfast, then listen to your stupid talk so I can have a good laugh while I drink your chai. That’s already done. Now, I was also planning to ask you a question, but maybe that plan’s fucked-up ’cause you’re just too dumb to answer. So anyway, just give me some more chai and shaddap!” They both laughed.

“Go ahead, rosbif” conceded Giorgio, pouring, “ask your dumb stupid questions, I’m surprised you can talk, you just look like such a fuckin’ stupid idiot with no hair.”

“What do you want to know?” said Anker. “Don’t ask Giorgio, you waste your time. He only knows how to talk shit and beat people up.” We all laughed.

“OK. This is the thing. I want to get some stuff from my bags and bring it to the block. How can I do that?”

“It depends,” said Giorgio. “Whatcha wanna get? You forget your special fancy ’airbrush?” We laughed again, since my head had been shaved.

“No, I want a book, my I Ching. It got me busted here. So it will have to get me out.”

“Whassat, I Ching?”

I explained a bit about the I Ching. Giorgio had heard of it, having studied Kung-fu and knowing a little of classic Chinese culture. They were interested.

“Maybe, you can show us how it works, rosbif” said Giorgio. “Then I give you some Kung-fu training. If you behave yourself.”

“OK, Giorgio” I said with a grin, “it’s a deal.”

“Vabene,” said Giorgio. “OK. So. You ask the guard at the block gate here that you wanna go to the Negabani to see Captain Farriman. He will let you out.”

“The Negabani is that big glass office in the middle of the corridor where the cops sit.” said Anker.

“Farriman is there at the Negabani after nine o’clock” continued Giorgio. “Explain him what you want. Ask him nicely and he will send you with some stupid cop to the Basrassi where they keep all our bags. What you take, they’ll check it in the Negabani and OK, if it’s just a book, they’ll look inside and let you take it to the block. No problem. But don’t try any funny business, because if you do they will stop all of us going out the block for one week at least.”

I did as Giorgio said. All my belongings had been recuperated from my camper and stored in the store-room, the Basrassi, in suitcases and bags. Nothing was missing. I got my I Ching, plus a pen and paper and another book.

I had money and bought candles, matches, notebooks and aerogrammes from the shop and started setting up my cell. Mr Rehman only came there to sleep as he was hustling all around the prison all day long, so I had the whole place more or less to myself all day, which was fine with him. I made the unused middle bunk into my desk, it was just the right height to stand up to and rest my elbows on while writing or reading. There were no such things as chairs in the Zendan.

To prevent feeling isolated I decided it would be good to have contact with people outside by letter writing. I bought a dozen prepaid aerogrammes at the shop and started writing letters to friends around the world.

To avoid worrying my parents, I told them a tale that my car’s engine had blown up here, in Iran, causing a major holdup, so I’d taken a local job teaching English. So my return postal address was “Hotel Zendan Vakilabad”, Meshed.

At noon ‘nahar’ came – another unappetising lunch. I dunked the bread in the gruel and examined the gristle on the bones for shreds of edible meat, with little success. After pausing to let us find a place and eat at the heavy metal tables in the noisy room the guards barked an order, “Buddho Bandar yek!” and we all shuffled off back to the block after wiping our greasy bowls under a tap.

Everyone was busy and doing their own thing as days started sliding by. I tried getting up early and lighting a candle to study, read and think while everyone slept. I even tried to meditate in the peaceful silence, as I’d learned in India, first with the Hindus by the Ganges, then later with the Tibetan Buddhists in Dharamsala. It seemed like a good opportunity to work on a bit of mind-training.

To familiarise myself with the ‘I Ching’ I took a reading every morning, studying all the aspects in depth and writing down my own thoughts and analysis in a school-type exercise book dedicated to this subject.

When the yard door opened I’d run for 20 minutes with the others, shower and breakfast, then read and study all day with frequent breaks for walking, discussion with my new friends or further exercise; or dozing on my bunk. I slowly got to know people and they all helped to show me the ropes of how things worked. But of course, it was also a constant battle against the depression of imprisonment.

I tried to focus on philosophical questions and metaphysical matters. How did I get here? What is the ultimate reality of my situation? It was hard to do this in isolation. Giorgio, Anker and some others were interested in discussing such things and slowly a loose group formed, working on themselves and exchanging views and ideas. Everything took time. It was something we had plenty of.

When the library was open, I went to check it out. It was a small room, jammed with shelves and piles of books on all sides, up to the ceiling. Entering, my eye lighted at once on the spine of a book amongst all these books that was familiar, although I had not looked inside it. It was in the middle of the middle shelf facing the door. It was the same paperback edition of a book that I’d seen my elder sister Grania offering to our Dad as a Christmas present when I’d been home in England the year before, following my brother Paddy’s sudden death in Pakistan.

The title was “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.” With a sense of fate at work on me, or karma, I pulled the slim paperback out of the row and looked at the cover. It was a biography of C. G. Jung written by his secretary of many years, Anelia Jaffé. I knew nothing about psychology, or about Jung, except that he had worked with Sigmund Freud in the early days of psychological research. On the basis that my sister who has a PhD had given this same book to my dad who had three science degrees, I decided on the spot that ‘catching up with my reading’ would start there and then, here and now, with this particular volume.

I took it back to my cell and started to read. As the journey commenced, fixed in my cell, I was sucked in. My entire world shrank quickly to the walls of this institution, then to the block, then to the cell, then to my own head and I could hardly believe my luck as I discovered an entire parallel universe was there.

Why had I not felt free outside like I do now in here, I pondered. Prison was prison, after all. When I’d been supposedly free to be anywhere else and do anything else, I’d somehow contrived to get myself locked up here, in this prison conundrum, a trap of my own device. Now, to solve the riddle all I had to do was reorganise the contents of my own head.

Jung’s account of his early life and his professional partnership with Freud before they went their separate ways, following Freud’s ‘discovery’ of the unconscious mind, fascinated me. Their epic split launched Jung into a journey of visions. These commenced with a dream of crossing an expansive, grassy plain and then finding a mysterious hole in it, down which he could climb. There was a sense that in this pit he would discover all that he was in search of. Drawn in by the allure of the potential, the content of this enigmatic hole, the dreamer leaves the outer world behind and descends into it.

This whole image resonated with my own current situation. I had arrived at this pitfall of a prison while wandering about the world as I had done for fifteen years and I was embarking on my own internal journey of exploration the unknown. Spellbound now, I shut out the external world and read on.

Jung then quits the conventional, conscious world and delves into an alternative reality representing the unconscious mind. He finds a parallel and complementary universe which, though unconscious and thus inaccessible, normally ‘off limits’, is brimful with fascinating contents that correspond with those of the material world. I was sucked in, and could not put this book down. The days passed like a dream while I ploughed through it, determined to extract every drop of meaning, which fuelled my personal odyssey here.

Through a series of such dreams, mythically representing his own life Jung describes this underworld with ever more evocative archetypal imagery and momentous sequences, ‘manifestations of the spirit of nature’. These lead him on progressively to realisations about mechanics and the development of the human mind from its prehistoric origins. He discovers what he calls ‘the collective unconscious’, a limitless, living ocean of the spirit containing or made up of all human experience since beginningless time. He theorises this as a primeval resource that we all tap into in our life’s journey, for example, when asleep and dreaming, or through inspiration and intuition, reason or emotions. It is the beginning of his own epic, experiential trip through mind and time which gradually coalesces into the reflections and rationalisations that emerge from this biography.

All this whisked me away into a new world of the mind, Jung’s mind, archetypal mind. By following Jung’s dream down that hole in the ground I had escaped from the idea of being in a prison after just a few days. Without anything to distract me, I had discovered a parallel universe, the world of unconscious mind and was revelling in it just as Jung himself must have done. It was intriguing.

I also got the idea that this new trip was a conclusion of my own epic journey of discovery to India that I had set out on a dozen years before. All my random experiences and the stuff that I had accumulated en route, that had formed a seemingly inchoate, jumbled heap in my mind, began to fall into perspective, prompted by reading of Jung’s hypothesis of individuation, representing the development of the individual’s psyche through growth and experience into maturity and completion.

It all echoed in my own mind like nothing I’d read or experienced before. Had I been thrown in prison, or had I passed through a portal into a new world? Or fallen down a magic rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland? No. But the residual trauma of being imprisoned fell away as I saw it was all just an essential component of my life’s journey that was absolutely necessary; a continuation of my adventures another level, rather than any cessation of my progress.

I was sucked right in by the vivid, archetypal imagery and the descriptions of the sequence of dreams that followed, or resulted. I was riveted to read how he analysed and decoded the ancient metaphorical science of alchemy; I was thrilled to learn how he merged his findings seamlessly with his travels, discoveries and adventures in the realm of the unconscious; and I was blown away when he came to his final conclusions. And this was just his secretary’s brief biography.

It was just an appetising morsel. At the end of the biography was an index listing all Jung’s major works, twenty heavy textbooks on his particular brand of analytical psychology with titles like “Psychology and Alchemy”, “Symbols of Transformation”, “The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious”, “Psychology and Religion: East and West”, “Alchemical Studies” and “Mysterium Coniunctionis”. Each title pulled me in just as Jung had felt drawn to enter the pit in the ground in his initial vivid dream. This was it! I knew I had to get them!

Having tasted the tempter and found it so spellbinding, I had to figure a way to order, consume and digest the whole meal in its entirety, to attain full satisfaction. But how to get hold of these specialist text books in this godforsaken hole of a dungeon in Khorasan?

I decided to write immediately to my dear younger sister Trevena in London to tell her all about the fix I was in and asking her to help me out. Could she possibly buy me the title I wanted to get started with, Volume 9 part one, ‘The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious’ and post it to me? Very kindly she did so without hesitation and within a week the book was on its way.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, I’d already got a letter back from my lifelong friend from teenager days in Preston, Peter Duce. “Dear Convict” he wrote, “Congratulations. It’s only rock and roll. … Food parcel follows.” A large package arrived just a few days later, full of English groceries, including a two-litre can of orange juice. I had a hunch and opened it carefully and tasted it. It was very strong cocktail of vodka and orange. Peter had steamed off the label, made a small hole, poured most of the orange juice out, refilled it with vodka, sealed the hole with a soldering iron and glued the label back on. Well done and very thoughtful of him, indeed!

Zendan Vakilabad’s small community of imprisoned European hash smugglers and smokers had a tradition of sharing such bonuses, letting everyone enjoy, if there was enough to go round. With this, we could have a party! I confided in Anker as the senior prisoner in whom I had confidence and asked him what he thought would be a good way to go about it.

He thought about it a little, then exclaimed “I know! Let’s organise a little chess tournament!” Chess and backgammon were played everywhere in the prison. Chess was played every day, in the cells and in the yards, with players everywhere focussing on their game. I’d played a few games already to get to know people and help pass the time. Anker was the reigning chess champion of the foreign contingent; he was so good that he sometimes beat Iranians, which is saying a lot.

We recruited all sixteen foreigners, excluding poor Richard and Vince who remained always aloof in their ivory tower, and had a draw. I was lucky to be drawn against the weakest players and somehow managed to win three games one after another to find myself facing Anker, who else, in the final. By that time we’d all had a few drinks and it was getting hilarious and we were getting euphoric. We filled our glasses up with ‘orange juice’ for the final match. Anker, unused to drinking for a couple of years managed to make a couple of silly mistakes, lost his queen and as a result and to everyone’s amazement, to raucous cheers and applause I, the new kid on the block, was crowned the new chess champion!

I hadn’t felt comfortable with all the Iran-bashing that went on, it was a negative and depressing habit that created bad vibes all round. People vented their frustrations by railing against Iran and Iranians. Pouring scorn, disdain and sarcastic ridicule was a common pastime that began to grate on my ears. Whilst merry on the vodka I boasted jokingly that I was ready to take on the Iranian champion. Slurring my words inadvertently, I called out “bring on the Iranimals!”

In defence of our hosts against the Iran-baiting that went on, like a winning beauty queen who dedicates herself to saving orphans, amidst laughter from the drunken chess competitors I launched a ‘block-wide’ mock campaign amongst westerners to “be kind to Iranimals”. I made an impromptu speech, declaring a “Be Kind to Iranimals Week”, the theme of which would be to counter the negative, racist mockery that so many indulged in, mostly due to bad example and the constant, unopposed scorn and put-down.

“Be kind, talk nicely with Iranians and praise their good qualities, starting now” I instructed, wagging my finger, to general bemusement. I even made some lapel buttons saying “Be Kind to Iranimals”. It faded away to nothing after very few days but the point was inoffensive and well made, in good humour. I hoped it made people more conscious about their racist behaviour. The atmosphere improved, as did relations in general, except, of course, for where Richard was concerned. He continued to play the brave and innocent victim taking a stand for justice against his vindictive and evil oppressors.

I spent my mealtimes and spare time with Anker and the easy-going, laid-back Italians, French and Germans. Richard and I remained on cordial terms and always spoke if necessary. His influence as self-appointed leader and spokesman for the Europeans waned and he became a bit isolated. The general atmosphere improved, however, as group activities were organised like Giorgio’s Kung Fu classes and Bernard’s Karate classes, which they started giving daily at fixed times. These were strenuous, enjoyable and free of course and attracted over a dozen participants. Iranian friends were welcome to join us and some of them did.

Anker was deeply into his music. We would listen to audio tapes with him to decipher and the lyrics and he wrote reams of songs, talking about them and composing. Morale, bonhomie and cheerfulness rose appreciably and everyone found themselves keeping busy and having a good time. For a change.

Then poor Richard lost his temper and smacked a guard hard in the face. He was taken away, roughed up but not too badly and put in Bandar Panch for a week. Somewhat chastened he calmed down after this and kept more to himself but carried on fighting his case and railing as usual to anyone willing to listen. He asserted his innocence, spoke of friends in high places and pressured British Embassy representatives, who did come to see him, to release him by pulling strings. He was a bit of an enigma. We could never figure out if he was telling the truth and was the victim of a sting, or if he belonged to MI6, or if he was just a genuine, failed dope runner who got caught like everyone else and became paranoid, believing his own made-up story. I felt sorry for him but grateful in a way because he helped me see how to make the best of things. Why make enemies when for the same effort we can make friends and get along with people?

Giorgio’s cell was the preferred gathering venue for discussions and passing the time, a good place to hang out. I had long conversations there, especially with Anker and Giorgio. Anker talked about his life in Copenhagen as lead guitar with a rock band called the Vikings that played in clubs all around the region. Giorgio described his hardly believable Kung Fu feats as a performer on the Italian night club circuit. His act included leaping high across the stage in a single bound and breaking an empty Coke bottle, thrown up by an assistant, in two, in midair, with his fingertips.

One day I asked Giorgio to tell me about ‘Crazy Hans’, the German freak that Richard had alluded to on my first day, being the only European who was ever released before serving his sentence.

“Crazy Hans!” exclaimed Giorgio, and proceeded to describe him in his best English. “Crazy Hans was a tall, thin, freaked-out German hippie and drug addict. He had entered Iran from Afghanistan, like all the foreigners held in this prison. He passed through customs with a kilo and a half of henna disguised as hash which he’d been sold by some cheating Afghans, concealed in his bag. Then he sat down right on step of the customs shed to roll a joint out of this henna. Even though he was only smoking henna, they still arrested him for hash. He got 2 years sentence and a $15,000 fine. He lived in a complete fantasy world of his own, never washed himself and got absolutely physically filthy with his legs and feet all covered in sores and scabs. When I was busted, after Bandar Panch they put me in his cell in the lower bunk. He was on the top. When I woke up next morning I heard these little noises. After a while I stuck my head to see what it was. Crazy Hans was sitting on the edge of his bunk, picking at the scabs on his legs. The noise was the scabs off his legs, falling down on the plastic floor covering, one by one.” We groaned in disgust.

“Hans had this fetish for hiding things,” he continued, “disgusting things like a half-chewed piece of meat, in a match box, wrapped up, first in silver foil, then in a piece of tissue paper, then in ordinary paper, and the small matchbox was put inside another bigger matchbox, then that was tied up with some string and then wrapped in a piece of dirty rag. He’d then kept this packet in one of his pockets, or hidden in the corner of his bed. He’d also sit on the floor of his cell tracing mountains and valleys and rivers with his finger on the mat and talking to himself. “There’s another mountain here, big, with a lot of rocks, and – hey, wait, from where is this river coming now?” He made himself so dirty, so utterly filthy that we sometimes used to force him into the shower room, strip him down and gave him a good soaping and scrubbing. At the same time others went through his cell cleaning it up. He was thin as a rake, sick, wouldn’t talk to anyone but muttered away talking nonsense to himself all the time. Totally mad. In the end they actually threw him out of the prison just to get rid of him! That was before he finished his sentence! Poor guy.”

We talked about many things but inevitably the subject came round to how we’d tried to fool the customs and how we all got busted. They told their stories first, and then I had to tell mine. When I told them how I’d the petrol tank of my camper van, which was supposed to be foolproof, but the customs officer at Taybad had just gone straight to it as if he had information, they groaned and swore. Anker banged his forehead; Giorgio put his hands over his face. I was puzzled.

“What’s the matter with you two?” I asked them.

“We know why you got busted!” said Anker. “You were a month too late. You know that Pakistani, Iqbal, with his servant, acting superior, over there across the block? You know how he got busted? They used the same system. It was still cast iron, till they came along. Ach, Gott in Himmel! Giorgio, tell him.”

“Ah, shit, I do not fuckin’ believe it!” said Giorgio taking his hands off his face. “Iqbal told the customs about the place, himself! This is the story, it’s one of the dumbest smuggling stories you’ll ever hear. He was living in England and someone told him about this place. He bought himself a camper and drove it all the way to Pakistan like you did and bought some hash and loaded it up. But there were a couple of kilos left over that wouldn’t fit in. What did the stupid bastard do? Instead of leaving it he hid the two kilos under the driver’s seat in a plastic bag! When they got to Taybad, the customs found the two kilos in five minutes and busted them. When they found they couldn’t bribe their way out, and would have to go to prison, Iqbal thought it was like Pakistan and he could make a deal with the customs. He asked for a secret meeting with the customs inspector and he told him there was another twelve kilos hidden inside the van in a place they that they would never find. So, said Iqbal, if he, the inspector, would promise Iqbal that he would drop his case, and let him off, he would tell him where the other twelve kilos was. He suggested they could take it out and sell it and keep the money because nobody needed to know, they didn’t have to declare it. Iqbal told us all this himself, while he was trying to negotiate his way out. And probably, he also told them that they could also bust the next people coming along with stuff in that place.”

“What! You are joking! I’ll kill him! What a swine! Bastard!” I spluttered, clutching my head, doing face palms and banging my fist on my thigh.

“Yes” said Anker, nearly falling over laughing with Giorgio. “And what do you think the inspector did? They said ‘yes, Iqbal, yes, sure, we promise, we’ll let you off; just tell us where the place is’. So he told them: ‘it’s all inside the petrol tank’!”

I was speechless. This was just a month ago. If I had come a few weeks earlier, before Iqbal, the customs would never have known and I would have passed straight through. So that’s how he knew as soon as I arrived!

“Do you think the customs let them off?” asked Giorgio with a snort. “Of course not. They drained the tank, dropped the engine, cut through the separating steel plate, cut into the petrol tank, opened it up and found all the stuff, just as Iqbal said. And then they busted him for the twelve kilos as well! Boy, was he sick. He should have just shut up. Then you would have passed.”

“Serves them right!” I said. “Stupid idiots!”

“That’s right” said Anker, “Iqbal says to the Inspector ‘but you promised to let me go, that’s not fair!’ The guys just laughed at him. They just laughed their heads off.”

“And you, Rosbif” said Giorgio, “you were the next stupid person coming along with that kind of camper. So you can thank Iqbal. It was the best place ever, totally foolproof, true, but Iqbal gave it away. Just before you arrived. Dio Madonna, porca miseria!”

It was my turn to put my head in my hands and swear. Unless the customs had the information, they could never have found me out in a million years. I’d always known there were a million ways anyone could get busted; this was mine, this was where my luck ran out. I should have listened to my gut, the previous time I did a scam, five years before: I’d been so lucky, I knew I’d get caught the next time. And this was it.

Then I remembered how my trip this time had been delayed for two months by another set of completely unexpected circumstances which prevented me leaving Pakistan on schedule [see “Prelude to BUSTED!” blog for the full story].

“You know what?” I told them. “I was all set up and ready to go in early July, well before Iqbal did his trip, and I’d have gone through, but I was delayed for three months, by pure chance, just on the day I was supposed to be leaving.”

“What?” said Anker and Giorgio, together, “How come?”

“Actually, it all happened because of one word, one stupid word that I used, that cause a huge misunderstanding. I was in Swat, and someone asked what I had in my saddlebags, and I used the word for luggage, which has another meaning – cargo, illegal cargo. It’s a long story.”

“I’ll get some chai” said Anker, “we’ve got all day. We want to hear it, the full story, all the details.”

“And we’ve got tomorrow, too!” Giorgio said and settled back. “Tell us about it.”

“Where to begin?” I wondered aloud. “The story of the horses company goes back five years to Afghanistan. OK, we’ll start at the very end of the horses story, when I said goodbye to my horses.”

“What, you had horses in Afghanistan? What were you doing with them?” asked Anker, bringing a big pot of hot chai from the samovar and settling down with Giorgio to listen.

“Actually, to tell you the horses story, I’ll have to go back ten years, to the time I first got to India, in 1967!”

“Sounds very, very innaresting!” said Giorgio, “go on, Rosbif, we’ll try not to interrupt you anymore. Anker, shaddap! Listen to the rosbif now.”

And so my tale began.

“It was 1965, I sat in a house in Preston one summer evening, smoking a joint with my friend Kevin Rigby when he started talking about how wonderful life would be in India. He described the scene, as he imagined it, and it sounded so appealing that I just said, out of the blue ‘well let’s go there, then.’ He looked round at me a moment and just said ‘OK. Let’s go.’ And so, just like that, off we went…”

__________________________________________________________________________________

End of part IV. Do not miss the next half a dozen (or so) thrilling instalments.

Prison sketch-map by the author. Prison entrance (see photo at top of blog) is at top/middle; “Bandar Yek” (Europeans’ Block One) is marked as “B 1” and the exercise yard and Block Two are to its left. Library is opposite top of Block 1.(bottom, right).

________________________________________________________________________________

WARNING NOTICE AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER: this entire story despite its total lack of probability and redibility is certified by the author as being fully factual and true in all its essential elements and furthermore all and any resemblance of any character described or appearing herein to any actual persons either living or dead, is fully intended, true to life and more or less as described in the text. Furthermore, if any statement, allegation or detail is claimed to be or can be shown or demonstrated to be fictional, false, untrue or made up this is due simply to possible bad memory, poetic licence, writer’s embroidery, coincidence or plain inaccuracy on the part of the author who apologises in advance for any such erroneous representation.

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“BUSTED!” – PART III

Front entrance to Zendan Vakilabad, the 1970s prison at Vakilabad, west of Meshed, Khorasan, Iran, before its partial destruction by the prisoners (including the author) in 1978/79 at the end of this series. (A still from a BBC documentary on the prison, made by Adam Curtis in 1977)

BANDAR YEK (Block One) INDUCTION, Cont’d – FIRST NIGHT

“I was FREE!”

Back in block one after my initial “nahar” (lunch, so-called) I was subjected to further indoctrination by my new mentor. Richard Savin, still relishing having a fresh audience, resumed his detailed, critical discourse on the background and intricacies of his court case, interspersed with frank and unflattering appraisals of Iranian prison conditions and food arrangements.

The lecture was interrupted only by the occasional round of refreshing chai with a plate of ‘Bourbon’ chocolate biscuits.

Those few prisoners who responded to the call for breakfast, explained Savin, had to drag themselves out of their beds when “subhana” was called about five o’clock in the morning, long before first light. Donning their rough serge jackets or wrapping a blanket around them they would trudge off blearily down the dank, cold corridor in a line to the mess. There they would gather the meagre and loathsome substances that purported to be nourishment and trudged back clutching their measly haul of dry bread, a tiny pat of semi-rancid butter, a portion of antique ‘donkey’s dick’ jam and a bowlful of strong black tea. The rest, who were understandably not inspired to undertake such a joyless exercise, they simply snuggled down in their bunks when they heard the call for “subhana” and pulled their blanket a bit closer around them.

He was just getting into gear when Anker, the tall, curly ginger-haired Dane whom I’d seen going to the library in the morning took pity on me. Deciding this hapless newcomer needed to be rescued from Richard’s clutches and treated to a second opinion he knocked on the bars and interrupted us on the pretext of inviting me out for a bit of fresh air around the prison yards. Like most Scandinavians, he spoke good English. I thanked Richard again for all the invaluable information he had so helpfully supplied and excused myself. I never sat in his cell again.

The door at the end of the block led into an unattended shop area where shelves were stacked with basic prison necessities like pens, paper and notebooks, tea, sugar and glasses, tins of ‘real’ Nescafé, decorative tins of Iranian halva and packets of chocolate biscuits, dried fruit and nuts, large cardboard boxes of dates, matches – and genuine American packets of Winston cigarettes.

Opposite these shelves, under an open window a decorative, polished copper samovar, with puffs of steam rising from the vents as it bubbled gently away on its low table. A saucer full of coins was on the table.

“Whenever you feel like some chai, you just take boiling water from this tap and leave a coin on the saucer for the guy who runs it” said Anker, pointing. “He keeps it clean, fills it up and heats it every day. When it boils, you’ll hear him shout ‘ab joosh!’ and people bring their teapots or glasses to make chai. The shop opens irregularly, you have to catch the shopkeeper when he’s here; otherwise he lives in cell number 22. We don’t take anything without paying for it first.”

“Ha, ha,” I said, “it’s funny that in a prison full of Iranian criminals, not one of whom according to Richard can be trusted, he always leaves his shop unattended without fear of theft.”

“That’s their society” said Anker, “and anyway, if you trust in people they usually respond positively.”

Beyond the shop space was a door to the staircase at the end of the building on the left and an external door to the yard on the right. The stairs leading up to the political section had been blocked off. We stepped out into the corner of the main exercise yard. It was large and sunny, full of hundreds of men like a busy square in a city. Block one formed one side of the square, while the equally long and tall block two formed the opposite side, sixty or seventy yards in length. The third side was where the main corridor ran, connecting the two blocks. The level of the corridor was a couple of metres higher that the yard and it had a flat top and a few square windows that opened. It stretched maybe fifty yards in width between the two blocks.

Opposite the corridor, across the square, or I should say at the other end of the rectangle, was a sheer, featureless thirty-foot high brick wall with copious barbed wire and broken glass set in concrete along the top. It ran in a straight line past all the ends of all the blocks, several hundred yards in length. Beyond that wall, looking up from the middle of the yard, two high watch-towers could be seen, rising up to a height of fifty or sixty feet, one to the left and one to the right. A plate-glass-fronted observation post was perched high up on the top of each of these threatening watch-towers.

“They have searchlights and machine guns” said Anker, squinting up at the platforms, “and they watch us all twenty four hours a day. There are at least six of these towers surrounding the prison. Outside of this inner wall, which we see here, there’s a bare gap of thirty metres or so and then another, even higher wall, from which these watch-towers rise. That marks the outer limit of the prison. Beyond that, it’s the empty desert, stretching all the way to the Afghan border.”

The high walls and their watch-towers were towards the south so the yard was full of afternoon sunshine. The corridor, and beyond it the administrative buildings were to the north. Block one was to the east and block two was to the west.

“Let’s stroll,” said Anker, after I’d taken in this scene and got my bearings. “It’s sunny for most of the year here. Just great weather for us northern Europeans.” Indeed, some who liked sunbathing were stretched out, working on their tans. We meandered between men sitting on cloths, on carpets and cushions or leaning against the walls in the sun. Some were dozing, others read books, others had little stalls set up, trying to sell stuff. Yet more men walked up and down, back and forth from end to end, parallel with the blocks, alone or in pairs, fingering their worry beads, talking away. But the whole middle area of the rectangle was taken up by two volleyball pitches side by side and the noise of thwacking and slamming the ball reverberated round the yard. A line of interested spectators stood along the sides of the matches, shouting and applauding the teams as the players, some stripped to the waist, leapt and jumped and hit the ball energetically back and forth over the net with power and ferocity.

“So,” I said to Anker, “what do you do in Denmark, then?”

“Ah, like Richard said this morning, I play guitar in a Copenhagen rock band” he said in his slightly lilting Scandinavian accent, “The Vikings. I hope to rejoin them, when I go back.”

“Hey, by the way,” he confided, “listen. I saw that Richard Savin was laying his trip on you all morning. I want to say, don’t take too much notice. He talks a lot, he thinks he knows everything. He’s obsessed with his own stupid case and proving his innocence and proving everyone else is wrong. He’s got this huge superiority complex. You might have noticed! But believe me, Iran and Iranians are not as bad as he says. I’d say, be good with people and they’ll be good with you. I made a lot of good friends here, they are good people. But the more you rock the boat, the worse it will be for you. And the guards, he complains about all the guards, he mocks them, but they are just family people, doing their job. It’s not their fault we got ourselves busted. So there’s no point to make their job difficult, and anyway, they have all the power here.”

“I’m glad hear this, Anker. I agree. I was thinking the same already. But a lot of what Richard told me about how things work here was interesting to learn. But then, he does go on a bit, especially about how innocent he is!” I rolled my eyes and Anker laughed. “If he really knew all the people he says he does, he’d have been out of here long ago.”

“Yeah,” said Anker, “here, in this prison, we Europeans, we’re just a bunch of freaks and smokers, so he’s the odd one out. Look man, the guy’s a fuckin’ arms dealer, and proud of it – as if profiteering from death and destruction by pushing lethal weapons is respectable, while we aren’t. He boasts what a wonderful person he is, as if everyone should respect him and support him. Anyway, he’s not that bad, I just wanted to tell you, don’t take too much notice of him.”

“Don’t you worry, Anker, I won’t. I know how these bloody expat types are. I worked on a civil engineering project in Pakistan, for an Italian consortium, I know all about those guys. We even had some British subcontractors! But I’m just an old hippie head who went off to India in the sixties. I’ve spent ten years there. I’ll tell you about it some time.”

“That’s interesting. Look! That’s Giorgio. He’s a real character,” said Anker as we walked past the volleyball game in the centre of the yard, ringed by spectators. Giorgio was stripped to the waist playing volleyball and raced off the pitch to say hi again, a shortish, thickset dark-haired young fellow with a fine physique and a big grin. He stretched out his hand.

“Hey! Too many bloody-fuckin’ rosbif man, what you doin’ here, get back to Bandar Panch!” he laughed, “how many kilos? Dio cane! Sorry man, I gotta go.” His team called him back into the game, he leapt high in the air and banged the ball back powerfully over the net.

“He’s a genuine kung-fu artist and a real showman,” said Anker. “Giorgio is great, he’s a clown, he never stops fooling around and making people laugh. Twenty kilos. Been here about nine months. And this is Bernard, who’s a karate black-belt, come and say hello.” The relaxed, smiling Frenchman was reading a book and shook my hand warmly. “He’s a smoker, got caught with his stash, only six months, he’s already done three. He’s really cool. OK, come on, let’s go through there and I’ll show you the gym.”

We passed through the gap between the end of block two and the thirty-foot high wall and entered another yard that was much narrower, maybe twenty yards wide. Cemented pathways ran around the edges and some small trees were growing in the compacted earth in the middle. Plus, there was a good amount of open-air gymnastic equipment, some of it Iranian style: sloping boards, pull-ups, bars, benches for pressing weights, sets of weights for lifting and pairs of clubs for whirling. Some men were standing around, others were doing body-building exercises.

“Come and see this Iranian club-whirling exercise that we do” said Anker, indicating the pairs of wooden clubs of various shapes and sizes standing on the ground down at the end. “Watch me!” he said taking a middle-sized pair and demonstrating how to use them, grasping the handles, inverting them with a flick and holding them both upright against his chest. Then he started pushing them one by one, back over his shoulders, dropping his hands and bringing the clubs back up and round to the front of his chest again with a twist of his forearms and shoulders, going on with both arms alternately in one smooth movement. “It’s an old, traditional Iranian exercise for strengthening shoulders and arms for fighting with swords and sabres” he explained. “Try it.”

I hesitated but tried it and after a wobbly start one club banged me on the head and the other on my bum; it felt like my shoulder was being dislocated by one then I lost my balance and dropped the other which nearly crushed my toes.

Along came Giorgio, having a break from his volley-ball game and laughing at my attempts. “Ha, ha!” he said, “Nice first try! Keep going, man! Like this, feel the rhythm.” He gave a demo and made me watch as Anker continued with another pair.

I tried again for a few whirls or so before my unpractised arm muscles flagged and I had to stop and whack the clubs back down on the ground. “I can’t do it, Giorgio, they’re too heavy” but he insisted on coaching me on to make me get it.

“It’s easy enough, try now with this really light pair, it’s for beginners. Some of these Iranians can do one hundred whirls of the heaviest clubs, without stopping.”

I had another go while Giorgio corrected my grip and posture, showing how to place my feet, move my chin and balance my trunk; “look, up, down, round” he said as he moved the clubs smoothly, “both together, alternately, left and right, you see, up, down, round.” Soon I was doing a few turns in sync and getting the rhythm.

“Well done, you got it, far out! The other rosbifs don’t never do this because it’s an Iranian exerise, but it’s a good way to get a strong whole body, arms, shoulders, back and legs all working together. Bernard, the French guy, he does it, he does karate, he’s really strong, man, and he’s a cool guy too. He’s real Zen.”

“We run, too, a few of us get up early and run around the yard for twenty minutes or half an hour first thing in the morning, before the showers. Even the rosbif, Richard and Vince, they come and run, too. You can join us, if you like. It’s good for your morale, to keep fit and strong in this fuckin’ place, you know. Or else you can be a junkie and hide in your cell like some people do.”

“Hmm” I say, “sounds good, I like to keep fit and strong if I can, that’s great. Where you from Giorgio, Milano?”

“Near Milano. You know Milano?”

“Sure, I have many friends from Milano” I told him, “I was there a few times. How long have you been in the Zendan, Giorgio?”

“I’ve been in the Zendan, nearly one frickin’ year already. I have to go bak for another game. Let’s talk, later, in the block, OK?”

“Sure, any time.”

We turned back to the other yard and Giorgio went back to his game. I thought of all the people I knew, family and friends outside the prison. “What about letters?” I asked Anker as we strolled along, “what’s the situation for sending letters out of the prison?”

“Yep” said Anker, “In theory, we’re only allowed to send two letters a week, but in practice we can write more. Captain Farriman lets them go, he’s cool. He’s in charge to supervise all the foreigners, the Europeans.”

“Captain Farriman?” I asked. “I think he was the one who processed me into the prison, and sent me to Bandar Panch the other day.”

“That’s the one, he’s cool,” said Anker. “If you have any problem, ask for him, talk to him nicely. He’s a family man. He speaks reasonable English and it’s his job to censor the mail, in and out. You have to give him your letters, unsealed, at the Negabani. He’s supposed to check what we write, about Iran and about the prison, but probably, he only bothers to check Richard and Vince’s letters, what they write, because they are seen as trouble-makers. We aren’t supposed to complain about anything. He also opens and checks any incoming mail. If we complain, and bother him, he can get upset, then he delays things, he holds up mail and stops the parcels and keeps things for days in the Negabani. For sending letters, it’s simplest to buy stamped aerogrammes at the shop for two rials.”

“Did you say ‘parcels’?” I asked, “can we get parcels?”

“Yes, of course, lucky people often get parcels, and Farriman opens them and checks there’s nothing illegal in them. But sometimes friends hide a little smoke inside things in a parcel, then if it gets past Farriman we have a little party and we can all get high!”

“How’s the mail service, between here and Europe?”

“It’s good, it takes maybe a week to get a parcel and a few days for letters. Generally, everything gets through quite fast. I heard it’s much better than in India for example. Things don’t get stolen here.”

This was heartening. I would correspond with friends and family, it would be good for morale.

We stopped to watch Giorgo’s volleyball match. The athleticism of the players was phenomenal. They obviously practised a lot and played hard. These games seemed to go on all day, continuously, one after the other. Then we continued strolling up and down the yard, back and forth, chatting away.

It was mid-afternoon and the rectangle was alive with prisoners walking up and down, eating sunflower seeds, making things, spinning threads and stitching stuff. It was convivial and peaceful. Nobody took any notice of me, the new foreigner, everyone respected everyone else and there was no aggression or bullying. It was live and let live, people just did their own thing, relaxing and enjoying in the perfect weather. What was out of sight was out of mind.

Anker said: ‘let’s walk and talk’. He’s phlegmatic and philosophical but fed up after being here so long. I invite him to tell me about himself.

“Well, it’ll be two and a half years I’ve been stuck here in this crazy hole by Christmas” he says in his soft Danish brogue, “I’m really, really sick of it. I miss my baby, man, she’s been waiting for me, waiting and waiting; we’ve got two small kids but she still sends me a bit of money when she can get some. It’s OK for you if you’ve no family, no baby out there, but when you got kids like me, man, it’s hard sometimes, it’s hell, but there’s nothing you can do, just go on facing it, up and down, up and down, every single day, day after fuckin’ day.”

I chanced the common question that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue: “How many kilos?”

“Forty, man. Our band really needed a complete set of new equipment and there was no other way we could raise the money. There was a chance to do a run, and I volunteered to do it, to bring back forty kilos. A dealer gave me all the contacts and set it all up perfectly. I just had to drive the vehicle back to Denmark. But it all went wrong on this godforsaken Iran border and I’ve been stuck here in this hole for the last two years now.”

“Yeah,” I intervened, “I heard Nixon set the DEA up to come and close up this border here for all the smugglers. They trained the Iranian customs in all the tricks the hippies used to get stuff out of Afghanistan and back to Europe. Before that, it was easy enough, but since then, it’s been the worst.”

“I got caught, so what the hell,” said Anker, “I walked right into it so here I am, so fucked up man, there’s nothing I can do except write songs and music, play chess and walk up and down, up and down, sleep, eat, shit, sleep, eat, shit …”

He moaned on in a pleasant, matter-of-fact and placid way, resigned to his fate but obviously missing his family and not a happy bunny. Meanwhile we were walking up and down the exercise yard from end to end, alongside the volleyball courts. Walk, talk, turn, talk, walk, turn.

Anker being thoughtful and reflective, I thought I’d pick his brains about how he kept so sane.

“I try to be creative. I’m a musician,” said Anker, “and my music’s my life, so what’s kept me sane here most of all is song-writing. I spend a lot of time and effort in writing songs and music. Most of it is crappy, but some is are good. It’s the effort, it lifts me up so I forget where I am. Being creative can be transformative.”

This sounded good, it gave me a clue. I liked his idea of transformation, negative into positive. Transforming things into their opposites. Anything was possible, but also easier said than done.

When we returned to the block at sunset, Savin made himself useful by offering to help me find a place to sleep.

“Come on,” he said, “let’s see if the Dump Nigger will take you in, Ali says he has a cell all to himself at the moment”. We went to negotiate my place in a cell just a few doors down the row from Richard.

The so-called Dump Nigger was a round, avuncular, middle-aged Iranian with a humble, smiling and deferential air, a bit like a plump, Iranian Uriah Heep. His name was Rehman and unsurprisingly he was no millionaire; after serving 27 years in prison he’d somehow survived to reach the dizzy heights of block one through a combination of great seniority, good behaviour and subservience, plus he must have called in a significant favour from someone at some point. He obligingly accepted Savin’s suggestion that I should share his cell and kindly offered me in good humour the choice of the middle bunk or the top. He used the lowest.

“Well, I´ll take the top” I said, and it was a done deal. The middle bunk was empty, but it would come in useful as a stand-up desk, being just the right height to lean my elbows on.

This self-deprecating old Iranian was the prime dealer in fresh eggs on the prison black market and he acted as a gofer and agent for some well-off Iranians in the block. He was no trouble at all; very kind and easy-going, in fact. I heard he was a convicted murderer, in for life, but he didn’t seem capable of harming a fly.

“Ix?” said Rehman to me raising his eyebrows, once Savin had gone on his way.

“Ix?” I asked, puzzled.

“Ix!” said Rehman, slipping two eggs out of his jacket pocket in his hand. “Yek tuman.” He is offering to sell me fresh eggs, otherwise not available, for ten rials apiece.

“Oh, eggs! Maybe later,” I tell him with a smile.

That night I climbed up and lay on my new bunk under the ceiling, on my foam rubber mattress and its clean white sheet. It was the first time in a week that I owned my own private, personal space. The last time before that had been at the Green Hotel in Kabul. That, I now recalled, was where I’d taken that ‘I Ching’ reading to divine my fate in this disastrous venture, when it had so accurately predicted my fall at the first hurdle; not only “The stupid fox gets his tail wet crossing over the water” but also “The bird is flying too high: disaster!”

I had to remind myself that the changed hexagram’s indication of the longer-term outcome had declared the final judgment that “It is favourable to cross the great water; the laughter is heard for a hundred miles around. Perseverance Brings Sublime Success!” This memory made me feel much better, for surely, the worst was over, and without the slightest shadow of a doubt my luck was due to change, right now. With that positive thought in mind, I fell asleep.

Waking in early the morning, I lay on my bunk ruminating with a fresh mind while the whole block was still fast asleep. I realised that to create the conditions for my luck to change, I’d have to make an effort. I would take my father’s advice to my elder brother, Paddy, a brilliant individual, larger than life, who a couple of years before had been busted in a London dope deal, jumped bail, gone on the run and got completely stuck on a dodgy passport. Our Dad had told him to give himself up and spend his prison time studying something useful to refine himself and realise the infinite potentiality of his mind. That was eighteen months earlier, but my brother hadn’t taken the advice. Instead, he’d gone and done ‘a Jimi Hendrix’ and was buried at Shahbazgarhi, near the Ashoka stone at the crossroads of the anient north-south and east-west silk roads. So, I felt, the onus was now firmly on me to redeem the karmic debt and the circumstances to do that had fallen perfectly into place.

Now, this here prison was a doddle, I thought, just the place to exercise that prerogative. I would start with a visit to the library. As soon that ‘library’ idea popped up in my head, the guard disturbed the peace of night by yelling out loudly in the darkness “subhana!subhana! subhana!” At first, I thought, half awake, that perhaps ‘subhana!’ was Farsi for “hallelujah!”, or maybe “eureka!”

Then, of course, I realised that it simply indicated ‘it’s five o’clock in the morning and breakfast is served’. However, the sign already told me that the library was the key and my new course was set.

Fending off successive waves of depression, despair, remorse and self pity I dragged myself up, climbed down off my bunk and went to collected my first Zendani breakfast, including a bowl of strong black tea that really got me going along this inspirational new line of thought.

In essence, I reflected when back up on my bunk, having been (for whatever reason) well and truly busted, the upside was that I was thereby relieved and exonerated of all responsibility; period. I no longer needed to bother about supporting myself, earning a crust, providing social services, establishing a family, paying rent or tax, feeding and clothing myself or maintaining a roof over my head. All these things were now out of the picture and ‘off the table’ as far as I was concerned, and for the foreseeable future.

On the contrary, thanks to the munificence and generosity of my gracious host – who was none other than the King of Kings himself, the Light of the Aryans, the Shah-in-Shah Aryamehr Reza Pahlavi of Iran – all such bounties would now be complimentary and provided to me gratis, free of charge, on the house, in ample quantity and at the said King’s pleasure; empowering me to do the necessary. I was fully authorised and enabled to freely exercise my personal discretion to do whatever I saw fit, namely to become a perfect example of rehabilitation and reform. In fact, for the first time in my life I was free to do exactly as I liked, without interference from anyone or anything. In a single word, I was free. I was FREE!

Who could possibly have guessed that my eventual restitution better than before and the eventual recovery of my actual physical freedom and the concomitant ‘Sublime Success’ that followed it on would coincide with or even trigger that same great King’s fall to perdition? Involving the fall of the Iranian dynasty? And of the US Democratic Government? And the success of the Ayatollah’s Islamic Revolution? And probably the entire War on Terror for good measure? While I would enjoy sublime success and fulfilment beyond my wildest dreams.

__________________________________________________________________________________

End of part III. Do not miss the next half a dozen (or so) thrilling instalments.

Prison sketch-map by the author. Prison entrance (see photo at top of blog) is at top/middle; “Bandar Yek” (Europeans’ Block One) is marked as “B 1” and the exercise yard and Block Two are to its left.(bottom, right).

WARNING NOTICE AND LEGAL DISCLAIMER: this entire story despite its total lack of probability and credibility is certified by the author as being fully factual and true in all its essential elements and furthermore all and any resemblance of any characters described or appearing herein to any actual persons either living or dead, is fully intended, true to life and more or less as described to the best of my ability in the text. Furthermore, if any statement, allegation or detail is claimed to be or can be shown or demonstrated to be fictional, false, untrue, exaggerated or made up this is due simply to possible bad memory, poetic licence, writer’s embroidery, coincidence or plain inaccuracy on the part of the author who apologises in advance for any such erroneous representation.

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