Let's face it, when the world ticks along nicely, when life is treating everyone well, something that happens infrequently I'll grant you, there's fuck all for us to blog about. Wikileaks, or the recent cablegate thing has given us all endless possibilities, with the promise of even more to come for Julian knows how long.
And, while we're on the subject, isn't it annoying that anything big these days gets the word "gate" bunged on the end of it. I hope there isn't some big event to do with Bill Gates in the future or the copywriters will have a field day.
The stories of espionage, of bumbling British Princes who should really keep their mouth shut, of Politicians exchanging favours for votes and votes for favours are seriously interesting and will almost definitely change the way many view the world of international relations.
But so far there's been one story, and one story alone, that has caught the RD imagination and is trapped, like a fart in a colander, in my head.
It's about Ahmad Zia Massoud the former Afghan vice President. You've probably heard it anyhow but it's about the fact that, in 2009, when visiting the UAE, he was caught carrying $52 million in cash. The fuss in the media relates to the probability that he was money laundering and that US and UAE officials stopped him then let him go with his cash and no explanation of where it came from.
I guess it's bad, bad that he was let off and all. But the simple fact is that this chap was carrying $52,000,000 in CASH, yes CASH. I mean how does a chap actually do that?
I've put quite a lot of thought into this, even doing a mind map which you can see here in front of me. When I began to think about it I couldn't comprehend $52 mill in cash. Would it be a suitcase full of sponds or a huge fleet of suitcases? Perhaps it would be a small bag containing a mere 52 of those 1 million dollar notes.
And how exactly does a chap go about carrying this on a flight? If it was just the one big bag I suppose old Ahmad would have bought himself a really good one, like one of the medium range Samsonites or perhaps even some top of the range Balrin Parris (sic) ones from the Pettah. If he could afford it of course. I've been wanting to write a sentence with (sic) in it for quite some time you know.
He would have faced the issue all of us have to face at times. Do you buy a hard case, giving more sturdiness, security and protection but also more weight, or a soft one, with less of everything including weight?
Would he have got one with a combination lock or a proper padlock with a key. When carrying around $52 million I think a combination lock is probably better and it's a good idea to use a number that no one will think of, like one of his kids' birthdays or perhaps his wife's. Had he gone for a soft case then I'm told anyone can open one by poking the zip with a biro. He'd have to hope none of the baggage handlers knew that cunning trick.
Then, once the luggage choice is sorted out, how would he have checked it in? It's probably fair to assume he went business or maybe even first class but it must have still been a nervewracking episode to check it in and watch it disappear along the belt at the desk. As you probably know I lost a case once when I went to Barcelona so I know how it feels.
My case only contained pants (Odel ones) and some clothes. I can only imagine the hassle in trying to fill out the lost bag form when you have to write "$52 million in cold hard dodgy cash" in the appropriate box. I hope Ahmad hadn't put his pants in the same bag as the cash. I had to wear the same pants for two days in a row.
All blokes know that it's perfectly normal and acceptable to wear pants for several days in a row when there's no woman around, but I was with C at the time so had to pretend it was something unusual, making that face as if I hated doing it. Had I also lost $52 million at the time I reckon things could have been a lot worse.
All the permutations and comedic possibilities were driving me mad so I did some googling and wikipediaing.
I found out that there has never been a $1 million dollar note that has been legal tender. Though there were some $100,000 notes that are not legal tender anymore, the highest in circulation now is the $100 note.
So old Ahmad would have had to use $100 bills and the weight of one of these is about 1 gramme. Therefore $52 million would have weighed about 520 Kg. That's a fair bit of weight and I reckon, allowing for 20 kg a suitcase, it would have meant 26 suitcases. Let's round things up a bit and say that he may have taken 25-30 suitcases.
Well that's a lot of excess luggage, even taking into account the extra baggage allowance (about 10kg) you get on business class.
It's all been kept quiet, even on Wikileaks.
I don't think we should accept it.
I demand to know who paid his excess luggage bill. I bet you it was the Americans.