More random thoughts:
I've posted a list of my favorite places to shop in Kabul on the Thorn Tree, the Lonely Planet message boards. I want to help shops that are selling Afghanistan hand-made products, and I thought this might be a good way. I'll do a web page as well... but unfortunately, I can't upload this information to my web site, nor any new travelogues, because the ever-oppressive firewall prevents me from using FTP.
Have I mentioned lately how much I hate firewalls? I'm getting so tired of trying to access gender-related information for work and getting blocked by the stupid firewall here at the guest house or at work. Yes, I've tried talking to the work IT guys. They changed some things, but not enough.
Latest stupid thing it's done: blocked everything after the "Rear Window" entry on Edith Head's Internet Movie Database Page and half of the page listing Clark Gable's movies. Why?!?!? Firewalls are STUPID.
I got a nice surprise at work recently: I found out today that six of our initiatives photos, which were on a CD of hundreds of photos I gave to the UNDP office, made it into the UNDP Afghanistan annual report, including one full page photo. And I even took one of the photos! I think we had more photos in the report than any other UNDP initiative, though we aren't credited. That's unfortunate. Still, I did what I wanted to do -- get this initiative seen as a good resource by UNDP for photos and information. I also wrote the quote of the minister in the report. Hurrah for me. This is the payoff from having spent my first two weeks just going through all of this initiative's photos!
I lost my cell phone one day, and that makes it really rough, because we don't have land lines here - my cell phone is my work phone as well as my home phone. The last time I had used it was that same morning - one of the two women I ride in with every morning calls me from the truck or SUV when they pull onto my street, so I can meet the car at the gate and they don't have to wait, both because it's annoying AND dangerous to idle on the street. So I surmised that it had to be in the vehicle... but couldn't remember which one we had taken (they are ALL white with "UN" on them). So one of the HR guys took his cell phone outside and we went round opening cars and calling my phone. And on the third try, he found it! I'm a doofus...
I went to the Carwan Sarai restaurant recently. It's *lovely* It's at the end of a long, walled alley, away from the busy street. It has a massive garden surrounded by very colonial-British-looking houses, at least one of which is an Italian cafe. I was ready to wear an Out-of-Africa-esque outfit and drink tea as I sat there in the shade, surrounded by roses and colonial architecture. Instead, I ate pizza and drank a Pepsi (they didn't have Coke).
BBC radio continues to be my Friday ritual, outside of brunch or shopping. Recently, I listened to a BBC story about the 1980s, when AIDS started emerging in the gay communities there. The interviews were mixed with music from the era. It brought back so many memories, from my senior year of high school, through my four years at Western Kentucky University, then past graduation and up through my time in Hartford. AIDS paranoia was an underlying theme of all those years. Other than old age, I've lost more friends to AIDS than anything else. The biggest shock to me is, more than 20 years later, there are still all these continuing myths and misunderstandings about it. How can it be that government ministers in some countries, some of them in charge of their citizens' health information, can say things like that you should take a shower after sex to prevent AIDS? How can things like that still be out there? I just don't understand.
AIDS in Afghanistan? Yes, but no one knows how much.
Having fallen in love with "X-Men", seeing it for the first time on the plane ride over from Dubai to Germany on my last R & R, I was so happy that the sequel was shown on the way back (okay, but overall disappointing; favorite scene was the boy "coming out" to his parents. Classic. And Alan Cumming stole the movie). And recently, I watched the third installment here in Kabul on my work laptop, which I am oh-so-happy that I can bring home every day. The first movie is, by far, the best. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it. And I knew *exactly* which line was Joss Whedon's - all of his writing was thrown out except that one line. I was pleased to find out later that the part of the storyline from the third movie that I enjoyed so much (which I think is second-best of the three) was also Joss Whedon's, from when he wrote a story for the actual comic series. Oh, wait, I guess we call them graphic novels now. Anyway, while I was home, I read Tales of the Slayers, by Mr. Whedon and friends. Yes, at 41, I'm becoming a comic book fan. Scary.
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