Some sobering stats, as reported at RAWA news (which further references IRIN News, March 8, 2007)
I have realized that I really have no right to complain about my security restrictions. According to a blurb on July 17 in US News and World Report, called "Survivor: Kabul Embassy Style": The cabin fever at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul apparently is so bad that one official compares it with the TV show Survivor: "Everyone there is on edge, tired of seeing the same people." A few dozen U.S. staffers are restricted to two small compounds, connected by a tunnel. Baghdad may be more treacherous, but the problem in Kabul is that U.S. diplomats are allowed out only with full security escorts. Troubling when you consider most of those escort teams have been sent to Iraq. One recent visitor met a U.S. diplomat who hadn't left the embassy in over six months.
I've never been to the Embassy. I was terribly hurt not to have gotten an invitation to the July 4th celebration that I'm *sure* happened there...
In a few stories in the media on 26 July, Mansour Dadullah, the senior Taliban commander in southern Afghanistan was quoted as saying; "Of course, kidnapping is a very successful policy and I order all my Mujahidin to kidnap foreigners of any nationality wherever they find them."
Time to go! This comment, plus what's happened to the Koreans, has meant a increased restrictions on the movement of ALL foreigners - so much for Bamiyan. ALL road travel outside of Kabul is now prohibited. Altogether, this is why so many posts to the Thorn Tree on Lonely Planet make me crazy: "Hi, me and my girlfriend are going to backpack around Afghanistan. Is it safe? Would anyone like to share a ride?"
I have, at last, had Super Cola, Afghanistan's own cola that competes with Coke and Pepsi. I don't like it as much as either, but have vowed to drink it instead of either of the better known brands for the rest of my time in Afghanistan, to support the local economy. Unless it makes me sick.
My fellow staff members laugh at me because, if you visit my office and say you are hungry I reach into my desk drawer and pull out four different kinds of granola bars or two different kinds of cup-a-soup, and if you voice some other need, I reach into my desk drawer and pull out some cast-off product from the company where Stefan's dad works (fly swatter, tissue, pen, soap, hand sanitizer, mosquito repellant...). In other words, I have The Desk Of Magic. Ask and Ye Shall Receive. It's like something J.K. Rowling would put in one of her books.
Speaking of Bible quotations, I went to church with Anne. There's a Catholic Church service here - I'm not going to say where, but if you are in Kabul and you don't know, email me, and I'll tell you. There's at least one Protestant service somewhere in Kabul, but I don't know where... though I'm sure my Embassy knows. I should find out, 'cause their music has just GOT to be better than the Catholics... The chapel was PACKED. Some people were standing, due to lack of seats. My favorite moment was when a German Shepard dog came strolling into the service, walked up the aisle, looked at the priest a bit in front of the alter, then headed into the priest's quarters off to the side. And no one cared. Apparently, he's a regular. Gotta love a church that allows dogs. I thought it was very nice that the service paid tribute to the former Shah, lauding his tolerance of all religions.
I can't remember if I've talked about this before... but being in Afghanistan and working for the UN, I am supposed to have a 15 kg bag packed at all times, the only thing I'm allowed to take with me if things get hairy; we're supposed to take it with us into the bunker, and with us on the plane heading out of here. I don't have that bag packed, but I know exactly what to throw into it, and I expect it to take me less than 10 minutes. Hope I have that long if the worst comes.
I'm watching a man mow the thick carpet of Iranian grass that now covers about half the compound. I so miss the compound dogs that were here in winter, frolicking in the empty, snow-covered grounds. I so wonder what happened to them. I expect the worst. I just hope it was a quick death. (if you want to help regarding the stray dog situation in Afghanistan, please make a donation to the Mayhew Animal Home and Humane Education Centre, and tell them you want your gift to go to their efforts in Afghanistan. They are working to help spay and neuter dogs there, to train Afghans regarding veterinary medicine, and to change Afghans' cultural practices regarding dogs, which have no basis in the Koran. I have spoken numerous times with a representative of this organization; they ARE making a difference, and your support will help them do even more!)
And now there are a group of women going by in stylish outfits - long coats and long skirts, high heels, and headscarves, ofcourse. They also usually carry umbrellas - the sun is harsh here, and Afghans *hate* to tan.
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The personal opinions expressed on this page are solely those of Ms. Cravens, unless otherwise noted.