I'm ready to leave NOW
April 20, 2007

"Salad that's topped with a dressing that zings."

That is the subject line for a piece of junk email I got this week. Clearly, junk emailers are running out of ideas. Who opens that email, thinking, "Why, zingy salad dressing is JUST what I've been looking for, and at last, this email is going to tell me where to find it!"

I've been packed to go back to Germany for more than a week: I'm taking home winter clothes and a few gifts. I'll be bringing back more summer things (that still provide enough skin coverage - what a balancing act that is) and all the things I wish I had brought (like a sink stopper and clothes pins).

I'm struggling with finding things to do as I prepare to post this last update before departure. I went to lunch today with two people from a Nordic NGO, both of them British, and the three hours we spent together was just NOT enough!! Rachel, my new friend, lives in her own apartment. BY HERSELF. And here I was dreaming of just having my own bedroom in a shared apartment...I'm so sick of Assa II I could scream. Graham, my other new friend, just arrived and brought his brand new Macintosh... so pretty... so shiny...

But NOW what do I do?! I've got more than 17 hours to worry myself into a frenzy about weather and terrorism ruining my R & R.... that's not healthy.

For the SECOND time since coming to Kabul, I saw an Afghan guy wearing a Kentucky sweatshirt. He was a guy sitting outside a barber shop near my guest house, and the shirt said "Kentucky Wildcats" in huge letters (is there any other kind?). As I was passing him in a UN van at the time, and the van was full of fellow employees anxious to get home, and I would have been in violation of my security guidelines, I couldn't stop. And, no, I didn't have my camera out. My camera isn't fast enough for a shot like that anyway. Reb soon-to-be-of-Mexico said of these moments, "Kind of makes me want to donate some weird yet practical items to charity, like all my marathon shirts, like the XL hot pink one with a giant artichoke from Pescadero." Now if I ever see THAT being worn in the streets of Kabul, well... well, then I think our job is done.

Twice I've seen a woman in a burka riding side-saddle on the back of a little motorcycle. That's a picture I soooooooooo want as well. I'm still working on how I can get a photo of me standing in front of "Afghan Fried Chicken." And, ofcourse, purchase a bucket for myself. Wonder if they have mashed 'tators?

While my regular office mate has been gone, I've had several guest office mates. Most recently, it was Nika, the twix-throwing Iranian woman who is our gender specialist. She was locked out of her office accidentally, so worked in my office one day. And she had a very Alexandra moment: she looked over at me, pouted, and said, "I vant my coffee." Her coffee-maker was in the locked office. I pointed to the instant coffee in our office, and she pouted more, and said, "Offering me that is like if I say I want husband and you give me baby instead." I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I told her I was going to blawg it. And now, I have. Oh, Alex, you would love Nika, and vice versa....

So, I finally hear from my friend Ben, via MySpace, of all things. He wrote a comment to my MySpace page. And what did he say? "Jayne -- Is your primary image on MySpace supposed to be you peeking out from behind your burka? Or are you knee-deep in a field of poppies?" All of my friends are comedians. ALL OF THEM.

We had a major sand storm on the 14th. Walter (the Flemish guy who shared my office for a while) and I saw it coming. We thought it was rain. It wasn't. It was SCARY. This big wall of sand just hit our building, BOOM! We rushed to close the window, but still got a layer of dust all over everything. I still taste it in my mouth. Pthhhht. You don't want to know what is in the dust of Kabul, you really don't.

I had another a major adventure in Kabul recently: I... I... I walked around the corner from my guest house!!!! I did!!! I went 20 meters outside my 150 meter perimeter of safety!!!! Call me reckless, call me crazy, call me so hard up for a large bottle of Coca Cola I would have joined the Taliban. Two international male colleagues escorted me - the official rule is that I have to walk with at least one international male colleague or two Afghan colleagues, and only within 150 meters of my guest house. And it felt weird in that it felt completely normal - I'm passing all these other women, as well as men who don't even give me a glance, and thinking, WHY can't I do this more often?!?!? I know why... 'cause it just takes one hard up heroin junkie with a gun to make it a bad day.

I've talked to drivers and an Afghan guy who is visiting here for the first time in 20 years (he lives near Walnut Creek now, and got married in Kentucky!), and they tell me how Kabul used to be: paved roads, women not wearing burkas, trees *everywhere*, and no dust storms.

Sometimes, when we drive over or around a huge crater, I wonder when it was made, by whom...

This week, a colleague and I went from work to the bank, which is way far away. After we passed the zoo, near the river, there were lots of people on the street looking anxiously at a cluster of cars, a TV crew just arriving, police trying to get their act together, etc. Three hours later, we saw this email in our in-boxes: "An old UXO went off while city municipality was cleaning a sewage near to the City Zoo in PD3. There are no casualties reported." and, as I mentioned to some of you earlier, a colleague was just in front of it when the explosion happened, and saw a car flip. Shocking that's there were no casualties.

You know, they still have this problem in Germany as well, with ordinance leftover from WWII...

I found a GREAT blog via aidworkers.net (my current favorite online community). It's by a guy in Southern Sudan. A must read for anyone who wants to go into international development work.



If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing --
without comments, I start to think I'm talking to cyberair.

A Broad Abroad - Afghanistan | A Broad Abroad - Main Menu | contact me

This is a personal non-business-related page

The personal opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ms. Cravens, unless otherwise noted.