Foreign Exchange by Nick Hahn, due 2016


Mustafa and Dilara

I lived in an obscure adobe farmhouse perched on the bank of a small stream in the semi-arid landscape outside of Islamabad. The mud walls were thick and smooth blending into the dusty landscape from which they grew. The roof was topped with palm frond thatch indiscernible from surrounding trees. The house belonged to a cousin of my Mother, who had grown cotton here until marijuana replaced fiber as a more profitable cash crop. My cousin and his family had moved to the city while continuing to farm the land as absentee owners.


The house was cool in the summer heat and warm during Pakistan’s mild winters. It had no amenities, water came from the stream, cooking was done with a wood-fired tandoor oven made of clay. There were candles and oil lamps, the bathroom consisted of a latrine and wash basin downstream. Shelter magazines would call it “charming” I called it home, private, secluded and safe. The perfect place for an undercover CIA agent to enjoy rare moments of down time.


The Toyota Landcruiser was on loan from the Turkish consulate; it was better that I didn’t requisition a vehicle from the embassy motor pool. Dilara drove, complaining the whole way about the dirt roads and thick dust. As we approached the house she couldn’t make out the structure, “are you taking me to a love nest or a bivouac my dear Musa, I mean really, this is to much.” She had hiked her dress to mid thigh, her legs alternating between brake and clutch as she maneuvered the big truck around potholes and palm trees indifferent to our progress. Her legs were long and tanned, glistening with sweat, the color of olives just out of the brine. I patted her thigh with a playful squeeze, she slapped my wrist, glancing my way with a knowing grin; this was going to be a perfect weekend.


We stopped at a farm market outside the city, fruits and vegetables were farm fresh as was the homemade lavash, traditional middle eastern bread. There was goat milk cheese, open burlap sacks of loose teas and spices and plump chickens, freshly plucked, hanging by their necks from wires stretched across the stands.



The Turks were good chefs; Dilara was familiar with tandoor cooking and what she didn’t know I taught her. We cooked together, feeding each other bites as we went, sipping Turkish Malbec and dancing around the oven to the sounds of American and French ballads from the 1960’s and 70’s.  Dilara created her own playlists and burned the CD’s which followed her everywhere. I loved her music, the haunting sounds of Gilbert Becaud’s  Et Maintenant one of our favorites; the French understand emotion and passion like no one else.


Sex for us was about the senses, never overt always suggestive. Foreplay started the moment we saw each other, like an orchestra tuning up, each instrument playing a part. Touch, sound, taste, and smell blended into an erotic symphony that only we could hear. Kama Sutra teaches that good sex is more mental than physical, that it’s about the play, not the finale, we stayed on stage all night. I adored this woman, intellectually, emotionally and physically.  Men are not supposed to have feelings like women do, what a foolish notion, we love  and feel the same, with deep emotion. Dilara and I are in tune with each other on every level, anticipating wants and desires intuitively not instructively.


The evening was cool for late August; the freshly ironed percale was tucked into the end corners of the twin bed, our refuge from tensions of the day. Alex was safe in the embassy compound, the tangos had crawled back into their caves, all was right with my world if only for one night.


Dilara turned the music down, lit three scented oil lamps and entered stage left, Act-1.

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