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Hiding place

May 18, 2009

I’ve been avoiding calls from my father for over a week now. The guy is nuts. And when I say nuts, what I really think is crazy. It mostly has to do with some new age religion thing he has been taking far too seriously for far too long now.

Since we are on the subject of my father and hiding, here is a little socialist-era gem. In Yugoslavia, smuggling was a vernacular activity. Everybody did it, hiding coffee in spare tires, stuffing margarine under the car seats, fire crackers under the lining, stereos in bags with dirty laundry, alarm clocks, whiskey, computers, chocolate, you name it. People would be exiting the country looking like a bunch of rifrafs only to cross the same border hours later wearing brand new jeans and sneakers since customs would not confiscate your clothes no matter how brand new they were. A true people’s sport. In those days, the worst (i.e. the best) bunch of smugglers I knew were students of Orthodox theology from Belgrade.

Art or...? Remembering a certain Swiss medschen?
Art or…? Remembering a certain Swiss medschen?

During 1960’s my father was working for some time in Switzerland and when the time came for him to return, he was faced with a challenge of how to bring back all the money he saved without having it heavily taxed. Similarly as the jeans smugglers, he hid the money into one thing he was sure the customs officers won’t open.

Home made Eldorado.

Home made Eldorado.

I more or less forgot about the smuggling thing till we found ourselves crossing the border between Syria and Turkey a few years ago. By bus. Then it all came back to me, as people started changing seats, rearranging bags, whispering and negotiating, Turkish customs officers poking randomly into black plastic bags, cutting them open and pointing the random hits to the big waste bins. And the big relief that hit the bus once the doors were closed and we took of. But the best part was when a few minutes before we reached Aleppo, the bus steward would come and ask us to lift our feet. As the guy in the front was rolling his brand new Mercedes bus carpet from under our feet, exposing the rather worn out original. Simplicity works best, I guess :))

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2009 6:34 pm

    My mom was into new age stuff as well for a while. My mom, my brother, and my sister! Buying crystals and having “therapy” with a guruguy who charged 20 euros for a 2 hour session. You wonder where you’ve gone wrong educating your parents sometimes. Sigh.

  2. May 28, 2009 12:19 am

    Back before we all got stupid paranoid with security, whenever I was out of the U.S. I’d stock up on cigars from a certain caribbean nation. I’d pop off the bands and stick them in a Nalgene water container. Those things are super water tight, the right length and have a wide mouth. Then I’d wash the container well using stinky hand soap. In the checked bags they went. Later, on the front porch of my home, I’d enjoy them. Nowadays, it’s just too risky and I’ll have to hope that soon, I can finally get them here.

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