Kathmandu, Nepal. 2011
I was doing some work at a local restaurant when I thought I recognized the back of this guys head.
He's taking the kids who we work with out for day trips, to the zoo, local temples on holidays, picnics things like that. I've met him afew times, and he's a really cool guy.
Three days ago, he was kidnapped.
We heard about it from the boys, and it was in the paper yesterday.
I walked over to his table, and using the most appropriate name for an anonymous missing tourist, asked if it was him.
"Hey Eric, how's it going?" He replied with a wide grin.
"What the Fuck man!? Didn't you just get kidnapped!?"
"Yeah man, actually I'm on the news at 9:30."
"Shit. Let my buy you a beer mate." I said to him.
We chilled out together and he told me the story.
While the majority of the police force was guarding major government sites in lieu of the recent political unrest, two men flashed some forged credentials to the night guard at Johns hotel and barged in. They stormed into Johns room and demanded to know where the hash was.
"I told them it was on the dresser man, it was pretty funny. I thought they were cops, so the whole time I was just thinking ok, I'll just bribe them or whatever. It wasn't worth the trouble. They were saying to me that I would go to prison, for like 25 years for having it. That's pretty much when I decided to go along with it. I mean I thought they were cops."
They tied his hands up with his gym shorts, "they didn't do a good job", he said. And put him in a cab.
They drove him around to ATM's to withdraw money, but he hit his withdrawal limit.
"I told 'em man. I said that it I wouldn't be able to take out more than 300 bucks. But we kept driving around to different ATM's. Eventually, I think it was because one of them was on zanex or something, one of them fell asleep on my shoulder in the car."
We sat in the restaurant eating and drinking and at 9:30 Johns news piece came on. It was the kind of resplendent reporting that has made Today Tonight so popular, complete with a heavily narrated recreation.
"I wonder who's going to play me" he said with a smile. It turned out to be a tall Nepali guy (John is a tall, white, brown haired American).
"They took me to the casino" he says in his television interview. "I had a great time watching them spend all my money." We burst into laughter while we watch.
"That sucks man" I say.
"Yeah dude, and you know it took a lot of discipline not to run away when they took me back to some shitty hostel room and passed out with the door open. I ended up just waking them up and telling them that I wouldn't be able to get anymore cash until six."
"What? Why didn't you just bail?"
"Well they had my passport, and I still thought they where cops. I did think about just locking them in the room and getting other policemen. But then I thought that I'd just have to pay two bribes because they left some of the hash in my room."
"Actually, later they asked me if I wanted to buy some of my hash back from them." He said laughing.
"What did you say?" I asked.
"Well I told them that they'd already took all my money, so how was I supposed to pay for it. Dickheads."
We laugh to at this for a while and John says,
"The most fucked up thing was that one of them asked me to sponsor him for a visa to the states after I told them I was an American. I just laughed in his face. What a fucking moron."
The whole thing was so ridiculous. I bought John dinner and a beer, I figured it was the least I could do for the poor guy. I'm meeting up with him in a few days to take a portrait, he was heading off to a bar after we had dinner.