Matt Brandon | Jun 20, 2017 | 0
I got a notice in my post box that I had a package to be picked up. It was 1 o’clock, Srinagar, Kashmir on a Friday; that means prayer time and you can forget about getting the package. So, maybe Saturday. Saturday came and went as it was a general strike, aka a hartal. This is when all businesses close their doors in protest of some event. Saturday was protesting a killing of a student earlier in the week. So Monday came. Now you need to understand that I rarely get packages, even when they are sent I rarely get them. My mom sent my daughter an Easter basket in February, we have yet to see it. So off I went, eager to see what lay in waiting for me. Perhaps the long lost Easter basket! I have to drive about 5 miles from my house to get to the the post office. Along the way I have to proceed through several road blocks and check posts. Monday was Pakistan’s independence day, so there was an inordinate number of security personal deployed to keep the Kashmiris from celebrating with their neighbors across the border.
So off I went with my buddy David to the post office. Just as we came to the first check post my wife called me on the cell phone to pick up some eggs. I should have passed the phone to David because as I was zig zagging my way through some very nasty spiked barricades I bumped one. It was at that moment I knew I was in trouble. My tire was punctured by the 9” spike that stuck out the edge of the barricade and in an instant my front left tire was flat. For some strange reason I was not mad. Just bothered. The only thing that crossed my mind was it was late and I hope I can still make it to the post office and get my package, strange, I know. So we got out of my Toyota Qualis (a SUV type of breadbox) and then it hit me, I remembered I had a problem getting the spare out from under the car. Shoot! Sure enough, the crank did not fit into the mechanism that lowers the spare from under the car. It seemed to keep slipping out from the socket it was suppose to be seated in. We cranked, and cranked, and cranked. Then finally, as if a miracle, it caught and slowly we were able to lower the tire. We took off the ruined tire and replaced it with the …flat spare! OK, all is not lost, it had perhaps 15 pounds of air in it. Just enough to slowly creep to a petrol station and get it filled. I made it to the pump station and got it filled. We had 15 minutes to get to the post office before it closed and the next day was India’s independence day and the day after was a national holiday as well. So, I had to make it!
We arrived at the post office with a few minutes to spare. We walk though the security of machine gun toting guards and subject ourselves to body frisks. I walk into the dark, dank “speed post” room to collect the reward of my trouble. I am told to wait. “You sit,” was the command, “Wait 5 minutes… no 10 minutes.” Oh, one thing I have learned over 12 years in India is never upset a postal worker. If you do you may never see your package, or any other packages to come, again. So I sat. To my surprise, a nice man came right away and digs though masses of uncollected parcels. But something is wrong, he is looking at small envelopes not big packages. Then, he pulls it out, a small legal size envelope. I sign for it and look at it. It is from the publisher of my new book. Ok, well maybe it is a check. Even before I leave the post office I tear it open and read it. My heart sank, it is a copy of an email he sent me two weeks back. I have to chuckle, that was an expensive email.
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