It was another beautiful night in Kabul. I was on the terrace, watching the bats flit around a neighboring floodlight and thinking over a few things. Earlier in the evening, in a kind and thoughtful gesture from the government of Afghanistan, a Colonel with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) stopped by and informed me they had received intelligence that I was the target of a kidnapping plot. Unfortunately I wasn’t noteworthy enough to be a political kidnapping; this one was going to be for financial purposes. These would-be kidnappers obviously hadn’t seen my 2009 income tax returns.
A kidnapping would be a big fiasco for me personally. Maybe if it had happened earlier in my stay, I would have had the energy for that sort of thing, but I had been living and working in Kabul for months already. I was tired and frayed around the edges. Besides, I had led the majority of my loved ones to believe I was in India and it seemed hurtful for them to learn the truth from a Yahoo! news brief.
What to do? Well, Kabul Conference was coming up, which meant lockdown was at hand in a few days and movement around the city would become nearly impossible. The Colonel from NDS had suggested I disappear for a week, possibly take up residence in another hotel such as the Serena or the InterContinental. Both seemed unlikely options, as they were not within the budget of a civil servant such as yours truly and would soon be loaded with guests who were political kidnapping worthy. Besides, I already knew the risks at my current site: it was haunted by freaky ghosts and people were trying to kidnap me. Who knew what I would face at the new location?
My visa expiration was rapidly approaching anyway, and my departure from Afghanistan was imminent—less than a week away. Although I was going to miss my Central Asian home, it was time for a vacation.