Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road

Stories of the Road, Part 1

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Here is a story of my run in with the local traffic police. Some time ago in Bishkek, I was coming home from the language school. Not more than a few yards from my usual parking space near my apartment, I was pulled over. The police in Bishkek wear white shirts, blue slacks, and a goofy looking hat. I got out of the car to meet a couple of these local policemen. I gave the first guy my driving documents and he quickly directed me to the second policeman while he pulled over more cars. The second policeman was, by appearance, the more powerful one of the two. I could tell because he sat in the car while the other guy did the work. He was also a bit chubbier than the other guy. Additionally, he had a firmer handshake, implying that he was not a grunt worker.

Kyrgyz traffic officer

The second policeman called me into his car to “discuss” my offense. I did nothing wrong, but I knew that he would try to find a reason to get a bribe out of me. He told me that I ran the light, but I told him that I never run lights in Bishkek. Calmly, we went back and forth about my crime. In the middle of our negotiation, the first guy interrupted us. This gave me a chance to change the subject of my offense. When the two men finished their discussion, I made a quick announcement that I was from America. He looked at me puzzled. I told him that not only am I American, but I am a “pure” American. He was still a little confused. I kept his attention with my odd statement and kept his mind off the bribe. “You are American? Are you from Mexico, or from India?” he asked. “I am a pure American, I am Apache” I told him. His eyes lit up and he immediately told me that he loves films about the Apache. “You are like my relative” he said. “I agree, we are relatives” I flattered him. After a few more minutes of taking about films, he let me go. My experience ended with no bribe, just a fun story.

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