Jane Austen once said, "If adventures do not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad."
As an avid Jane Austen fan, I have always read that quote with a sense of agreeable fondness. I used to take pride in the fact that perhaps I understood who Jane Austen was. After all, hadn't I feverishly read all of her novels multiple times over? Coupled with my love of Jane Austen and the meaning behind the words, acutely written three hundred years ago, I naively thought I understood what that quote meant. That was, up until I moved to Bahrain.
Everyone has their worst case scenario when living overseas. You see, there are definitely certain fears that one learns to live with. For me, it was the fear of being deported or having a run in with the authorities. Anyone who knows me well, understands that I possess a very vivid imagination. It was pretty easy to let my imagination run away with these "worse case scenarios." Even though I was having the adventure of a lifetime, I still knew I was a foreigner walking amidst a foreign land.
So, here we are at the end of my time in Bahrain. I had spent almost two years living in the Middle East. I had established myself in a new location and I felt hesitant about leaving. I was lucky enough to met the most intriguing, loving friends while living there.
I was down to the wire. Only a week left. It was time for packing up and saying my goodbyes. My roommate could tell you that I pretty much failed during that week. My friends would come over "offering" to help me pack, and it would wind up being a long talking session with nothing accomplished. My suitcases remained unpacked until the very last second.
One last night. One last night out with my girlfriend. She used to joke that she brought out my wild side. Well, she was probably right. So, it was supposed to be a goodbye sort of night. You know, where we could go let our hair down, drink a glass of obligatory wine, and say our goodbyes. It was scheduled to be a perfectly normal night. But, isn't that the funny thing about "normal?" It's those normal nights that always creep up on you.
After having a nice dinner, we decided to go dancing, one last time! After all, weren't we the queens of the dance floor? So, yes! We danced. We lived. It was just like old times. That is, up until we got into our car to go home!
My friend Isabella was driving. She's a sassy Dominican who knows how to dance and has a fierce presence about her. Yep, I love her. With my lovely lady friend in the driver's seat, we were simply driving away from our crime scene.
After we made the first turn out of the parking lot, we were intervened by an unmarked vehicle. It was a white car with two men in it. They passed us and started waving and making faces at us. One thing is for certain, as a foreign woman, you learn to ignore these encounters because they are most often just some obnoxious male, trying to get your attention. You can never be overly cautious. So, you learn to be fierce.
They continued to follow us, even when we took the back roads home. We thought that we would take the detour home to maybe ditch them along the way. Sure enough, after every stop light and every turn, it was clear that they were there stalking us. After a mile of this torture that we started to get seriously concerned.
They started getting aggressive. Passing us, yelling out their window. Making gestures and flashing their lights. We couldn't shake them and it was nerving. What were we to do? We had learned not to stop for anyone! It was far too dangerous!
Finally, at a stop light, they swerved in front of us, blocking our ability to turn. Out the man clamored from his vehicle. I cringed as he aggressively ran towards our car!
"This is it," I thought.
"My life is over!" (insert vivid imagination here)He motioned for us to roll down our window. At this point, there was a traffic jam behind us and people were honking their horns!
Through the language barrier, we concluded that he was probably traffic police in an unmarked vehicle. He was off duty though. Well, I guess we had a light that was broken and he claimed that he was trying to inform us of the broken light. Really? Stalking us? Almost running us off the road to tell us this? Nearly killing us! It was clear that his pride had been wounded because we wouldn't stop! His behavior was unconstitutional!
He wanted us to get out of our vehicle. We refused! After all, we were two foreign women not about to jeopardize our lives. He could have been anyone! He could have conned someone into getting a fake ID! My friend Isabella told him this, which escalated the situation as he seemed to drown in rage! Oh man, he was beside himself!
We closed our windows, after telling him we were calling the police ourselves. After we notifed the authorities, we voluntarily drove to the police station. We wanted this situation solved once and for all! He followed us closely the entire way there.
Once there, we waited for what seemed like forever! I ate an apple that I had stashed in my purse. Opps! I like food too much! We watched as the officer on duty issued the man into his office. There were glass doors so we could see the entire, dramatic scene unfold. Arms flailing, fingers pointing, yea the works! We were eventually issued in. By this time, it was 2 in the morning.
"Don't say too much," my friend Isabella said as we went into the office. "Okay," I thought because I was already scared out of my mind. "I'm going to wind up in prison," I thought.
The man in the unmarked vehicle was allowed to stay in the office as we were questioned. We basically explained our situation to the officer on duty. We told him we absolutely didn't know that he was police. His vehicle was unmarked. He didn't have any sirens or lights! My friend Isabella was sure to point out all of his violations! She definitely intimidated the officer on duty. I don't think he was used to a woman speaking so passionately. He was very sweet and understanding. He told us that he wouldn't want his sister to stop for an unmarked vehicle either. He was on our side.
I could only pick up bits and pieces but my friend translated to me in quiet whispers. The man who had followed us earlier was furious! He wanted us to apologize. He ranted "these women have disrespected authority, etc." He said that we owed him an apology. He wouldn't leave until we said that we were sorry! Well, we weren't about to do that!
The story and the questions seemed to last forever. Both parties had to be appeased. Finally, in the very morning hours of daylight, we were released. No consequences. Thankfully! I felt like I had dodged a bullet! Only a few more days and I would be headed home!