A question I posted in response to someone else's blog per yet another "Khareji Gone Wild!" story: why do so many journalists come to Kabul for a few days, cheery pick a story about a party at L'Atmosphere or wherever, write about it as a big debauchery by Westerners, and then fly out, smug that they've exposed foreigners in Kabul as all drunken louts? Most of the international workers that I know here in Kabul *aren't* living the life that's portrayed in these articles. Out of work, most of the aid workers I know are watching movies on their laptops or trying to connect to loved ones on Skype, reading, sitting in their guest house gardens talking with others, working out, or even holding private religious services for fellow non-Muslims. One of my Afghan workers, after hearing what I'd done on my day off, remarked, "Wow, you people are boring." I've been to "L'Atmo" many times - mostly, it's just people sitting around talking or working on playing on their computers. Even most Thursday nights aren't really *that* crazy. But I guess that's too boring for people to write about. Perception is everything - and *writing* about Westerners here as constant party animals is what might breed resentment among the locals. The reality is much different.
The author also had a big issue with some restaurants that "keep locals out." Well, dude, that's the law. In Afghanistan, by their own law, Afghan nationals are prohibited from drinking alcohol. Period. Hence why, in restaurants that serve alcohol, Afghan nationals do NOT go (unless they have a passport for another country - then they are oh-so-there). There are many, many restaurants that don't serve alcohol and where locals and internationals both go. I go to two such places - neither of which are approved by UN security, but I go anyway, because I like the food and the mixed company very much. I would love to go to more places to interact with Afghans, but *I* am prohibited from doing so by my employer (if something happens to me while I am violating our security policy, health or life insurance does not apply). I don't resent Afghans because I can't go to those places, by the way... but according to the author's way of thinking, I should.
But I guess there will be no stories of debauchery from L'Atmo for a long, long time... the government claims the restaurant owes $500,000 in back taxes, the owner says he's paid taxes every year, the government says he has to pay these new taxes and THEN appeal, he's said no way and has closed the restaurant and is now on hunger strike.
Well, at least I have radio shows to listen to in the evenings if any more restaurants get closed or the Internet isn't working. I finished all of "The Haunting Hour" and Fred Allen radio shows - thanks again, Jerry! Some of HH were just *awful* -- I think a lot of people who long for the days of radio drama forget just how badly written some of them were. But, still, I loved listening to all the sound effects and what not. And sometimes... okay, I was spooked. Unfortunately, the Inner Sanctum episodes have a lot of interference in the recordings - I hear some other show happening at the same time. So I've gotten through just one of them. Next, I'll try all the science fiction stuff. All in all, these radio shows are awesome - perfect to listen to when I'm trying to sleep but my eyes are too tired to read. Or when I'm packing to go home...
Why I love fark.com: here's how it linked to a story on sky.com: "Most women would rather eat chocolate than have sex because chocolate 'never disappoints.' Unlike, well, you."
Why I love my friends: they send me hilarious things (thanks Lis)
I guess no journalist is going to do a story about Westerners in Afghanistan sitting at home in their guest houses listening to old radio shows or reading fark.com.
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