Go Fly a Kite
August 6, 2007

 
15 days to go... Per my recent post with the subject line "Please Don't Let This Happen to Me," I got this from my good friend Rebecca, formerly of Corydon, Kentucky, who also now works in the fabulous, glamorous world of international development:
"Here I am sitting in Rumbek while my passport is currently in Khartoum with the UNFPA who are trying to get me a year-long multiple entry visa for Sudan. I can understand the uncomfortable feeling of not getting caught."
How did two Henderson County girls ever end up as we have? I still shake my head...

Doing a keyword search on the word "kite" on my yahoogroup generated four different blogs that referred to such. Well, here's a fifth:

Yes, there are kites in Kabul. If there's not too much dust in the air, you can pick a point in the sky and stare at it for a few minutes and, sooner or later, you will see at least one kite. Keep looking, and you will see more. Most are quite small. I've seen a lot of kites made from plastic grocery bags - pink seems to be particularly popular. You see more kites than kids flying them, because the kids are often behind walled yards. But you will see kids on the street, obviously poor, obviously not going to school, who have some how find time between their work and home obligations to make and fly a kite. I stare at them, near and far, as we drive home on Darulaman Road every day. One day when I came out of my room into the garden at the guest house, there were two errant kites, one plastered against the barbed wire of the outer wall, one swinging from kite-eating tree.

When I see kites, I will think of Afghanistan.

The Taliban banned kite flying as un-Islamic. Yet another reason to say: The Taliban are Wankers. I'm trademarking that statement.

I read this in a recent security report: "On 4 August, Zabul Province, Qalat District; at 1700hrs, a RCIED exploded in front of GAIN Nursery Project Center, an all-females tree planting NGO initiative. No casualties were reported." When they start bombing all-women tree-planting NGOs, it's time for me to leave.

Most people at UNDP wait until their last day to tell people they are leaving. What is up with that? I've already started. I wrote the guys over at the ministry press office to tell them I was going soon. Here are the first two reactions:

  1. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leaving????????
  2. Uffffffffffffffffffffff Ms. Jayne, Today I heard that you will be leaving, honestly; that was not good news for me because I am missing an active, hard worker and good colleagues. Anyway this is life, sometime happens like this, today we are here, god knows where will be our tomorrow. If you want me to be in touch with you for the future, or want to be aware from every small change of situation in this country, then let me have your personal address.
I love my media-relations colleagues at the Ministry, I really do. They work so hard. They are always professional. They want to do better than yesterday. If this whole country was like them, Afghanistan would be the most prosperous, peaceful country of the region. They inspire me to do better. They make me glad I came. I should have just packed up my office and worked over there my month here.

Excerpt from a recent article:

"Drive around this capital known for its modesty, and the massive homemade billboards of a shirtless Arnold Schwarzenegger are impossible to miss. Ditto for the waxed chests of young Afghan men sweating inside makeshift gyms. Six years ago, the simple act of flying a kite here was illegal and the soccer stadium was an execution venue. Today, the seeds of democracy are turning up in some funny places -- places that seem oblivious to a reconstruction hamstrung by official corruption and a resurgent Taliban. Welcome to Gold's Gym, Kabul style, where Afghans are getting pumped. "Bodybuilding is fashion today," said Yasar Ahmedzai, 20, a local journalist and recent devotee. "Life is so much better when you look strong and are in good shape." While there are more than 100 gyms in the city, none is as famous as Gold's Gym, Kabul's first. Ask for directions and everyone - from traffic cops to fruit merchants - knows the place... Step inside the sour-smelling space at Gold's now and you'll rub deltoids with a throng of muscle-bound Afghans, ages 15 to 50, using imported, if rusty equipment, along with requisite wall-to-wall mirrors. The sight of a journalist's camera incited a frenzy of flexing and shouting beneath yellowed posters of present-day favorites Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman. And, of course, Arnold."
It's all so true. I've seen as many paintings and posters of Arnie as I have Karzai.

Some of us here have been pestering procurement at our office (all Afghan staff) to buy things for the office *locally* whenever possible. Like desks: there are furniture makers here in Kabul who could quickly make decent desks for our offices, but procurement keeps buying imported desks instead. Or dried fruits and nuts for visitors: plenty is produced here in Afghanistan, but often, procurement buys those produced in other countries instead -- even from the USA! We've even been asking our guests house managers to buy Afghan eggs instead of Iranian or Pakistan eggs. But we get either very confused looks or out-and-out resistance ("but it's *easier* to buy such-and-such from Turkey..."). One of us suggested doing a resource map of the area regarding goods and services readily available in the neighborhood, for quick reference. All of these efforts have been for naught, and one senior manager even said, "Why are we talking about these little things? We have much bigger things to be concerned with." Are these *really* "little" things?

Internet works at the guest house again. HURRAH!

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