Another thing to check out: The Foreign Policy Association (FPA) is a non-profit organization "dedicated to inspiring the American public to learn more about the world." FPA has published a two part series "Examining Afghanistan" by Marco Vicenzino. It's an overview of the situation here.
Part I: Internal Dynamics and Challenges
Part II: External Factors and Obstacles to Success
(IMO, this is the more interesting of the two articles)
Some facts for you: as of Thursday, July 26, 2007, at least 346 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. The department last updated its figures July 21, 2007. Of those, the military reports 225 were killed by hostile action.
Just wanted you to know that I do pay attention to those numbers, and you should too.
To mourn the former Shah of Afghanistan, I went for a massage at a salon called Nova, down the street from L' Atmosphere. The next day, I had bruises. Not kidding. Not going back. But I didn't want to complain, because it was my treat for helping a co-worker with an application to the UNDP leadership programme. And another friend, Sonia, wrote to say she has an interview next week, and wants to take me out for a drink for helping her with her CV and cover letter. I like getting free stuff.
One of the things I won't miss when I leave Afghanistan is the phone calls I get from strange Afghan men. I have no idea how they get my number. I answer the phone and they say, in English, "Hello! Hello! What's your name! Are you married?" Often there's someone in the background trying to coach the caller in what to say. I immediately hang up. I seriously doubt male aid workers ever have this problem.
Cell phones, text messaging and IM are hugely important to the Kabul social scene; since men aren't allowed to socialize with women outside of their families, they constantly seek cell phone numbers of women they can talk with. They also prowl the Internet for people who have in their IM or Skype profile that they live in Kabul, and then they email those people, trying to find out if they are young and single. And once an Afghan man gets hold of a woman's cell phone number, the calls will just keep coming. There's at least one Afghan woman at work who is getting harassed by some guy who got her number, and she doesn't dare tell her parents, for fear that they will think she met this person at some point. An Iranian friend once thought she was calling a duty driver, and when he answered, she started saying, in Farsi, that she needed to be picked up. He asked her where she was. She said she was home. He asked where her home was. And then she got suspicious... and she asked him who he was. He replied that he would pick her up, and he needed to know where to pick her up. She realized she'd dialed the wrong number and hung up. The guy kept calling her for days, asking her to tell him where she was so he could pick her up.
Have I mentioned that I'm ready to leave? Everyone told me the last eight weeks here would be the fastest, that they would fly by. So far, they are the s-l-o-w-e-s-t. Days crawl by. Once my office mate is back, I'll be running out of things to do at work. Tensions are also pretty high there - a lot of short fuses lately. I'm just trying to keep my head down and stay out of everyone's way.
By the way: PUBLIC STORAGE IS EVIL. They are the WORST. Do NOT use them! Unfortunately, I have all my possessions in the world in a unit in Austin, Texas. They used to be Shurgard Storage, and their service was great - they even gave me a month free for my first two years. That all changed when Public Storage bought the company out (as *always* happens with buyouts - the customers *always* lose). They raised my rent hugely. And then, earlier this year, they insisted a friend of mine pay for a month's rent I had already paid and then refused to refund the money to her when she brought the attention to their error, saying they would forward the balance to the next month. That means I had to pay her back and try to re-arrange my payments via the Internet so that I wouldn't be out an extra month's rent. Did they apologize? No. Did they offer any sort of discount for the tremendous amount of trouble they caused? No. In fact, the first customer service representative I worked with just stopped writing after saying she would help. It has taken I don't know how many emails, at least two faxes and phone calls on my part to try to resolve this. And what has Public Storage offered for all this tremendous amount of trouble and time on my part? Nothing. Not one thing. So DO NOT USE PUBLIC STORAGE. Tell your friends.
Steve in Santa Barbara says, per my recent giddy-nine-year-old-girl
antics reported world wide, "I really enjoy my friends who can geek out in public. Uber geek out. In the best way!
I am an uber geek. I have been since I was 12 year old. Some things just don't change.
If you are ever bored, go to flickr.com and look up photos featuring Sharron Rush. She doesn't have a Flickr account herself but, geesh, she sure is all over the place. I've also been reviewing all of *your* photos and making comments. BECAUSE I'M BORED.
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The personal opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ms. Cravens, unless otherwise noted.