the dancing rat
August 10, 2007

 
11 days to go... and the rat is running across the roof of my room in celebration. No, really. He/she can be REALLY loud in his/her scuttling. He/she must be huge. Maybe I don't want to think about that...

You do realize, don't you, that there is soooooooooooo much I do not blog? I may not blog everything - often the juiciest bits. Buy me drinks and I shall tell all... but not in writing. In fact, I think my blogs from the last eight weeks will have to be SEVERELY censored before putting them up on my web site.

I shall not censor my laundry habits: I think I have just one more underwear-washing that I will have to do before I leave this country. I'm so tired of my little apartment smelling of bleach and water... but I guess it's better than sewage (which it has smelled like a couple of times).

Come to Afghanistan! It's fab!

A certain NGO consultant who shall remain nameless but who is completely addicted to coffee and who I've had an almost standing date every Friday for brunch tried to strong-arm me to do a consultancy in Bamiyan when I'm done with my current contract. And while the idea of going to Bamiyan is something I've had for many months, ain't nothin' keepin' me from going home to my husband in 11 days (and I think, with the grammar in that sentence, I just disqualified myself for the job anyway). The Taliban better stay out of my freakin' way on August 21 or their will be HELL to pay. The person who was supposed to do said consultancy fled the country after just a few days. Which I was certainly ready to do shortly after arriving myself... I really sympathize. This person, by the way, was from a developing country himself, so that should tell you what it's like here.

Which brings to mind something I've been meaning to say for a while: for all you who want to do aid work, there are, among other things, four things your CV should strongly imply - if not state outright -- that will greatly improve your chances of getting a job:

I'm not kidding - if you have those things on your CV, and you *mean* it when you write it, you will greatly improve your chances of working in development. Those are all HIGHLY desirable skills.

Recently, I met with one of our organization's community facilitators, an Afghan who lived most of his life in the USA. And we're talking away, and I start to hear something. And finally, he finishes telling me something about his approach to some community problem and how he handled it, and I say, "So, what part of the American South were you living in?" His eyes got wide. It turned out to be Texas. You have not heard anything until you have heard a guy speak with BOTH an Afghan and Texas accent.

From a security report: "On 6 August, Badghis Province, Muqur District Center, during the dark hours, information indicates that an AGE attack on Muqur District Centre was thwarted with the immediate intervention of community elders."

For some reason, I found this amusing. What do you think "the immediate intervention of community elders" in Afghanistan looks like? What do you picture in your mind at that description?

I found out that most kidnappings of internationals here are criminal, non-Taliban acts, and that the kidnappers then sell the hostages to the Taliban. And the Taliban demand money, to pay for the money they spend on buying hostages and more arms. And the circle continues...

I want to get back to a country that has its priorities straight. From the news wires:

Mon Aug 6, 9:53 PM ET
BERLIN - Germany's national railway wasn't about to risk sending a trainload of soccer fans to a German Cup match without beer. Federal police said Monday that the beer tap failed aboard a special train carrying Bayer Leverkusen fans to Hamburg on Saturday. The fault was discovered half an hour into the journey. "In order not to endanger the good mood" of the passengers, railway officials halted the train in Wuppertal for 25 minutes and had a replacement part delivered by taxi, a police statement said. It added that there was no trouble among the fans.
Sigh... Germany is so civilized... can't wait to get back!

We have gone a couple of times to a restaurant that's not MOSS approved - there's no guards, the front is covered in glass (though it's reflective and you can't see in), and I doubt UN security even knows where it is. We probably can't go again - having now been two times, our movements could be tracked by the bad guys. But it was fun the two times it lasted. They had good roasted chicken, killer spinach spread, and very tasty soup. And the staff was happy - and amused - to see us. The stares from the other patrons got a little old, but we just ignored them. Quite frankly, my African colleagues had it the worst - Afghans stare at them like they are waiting for the black to melt off. But Afghans are so happy to see international people visit their places of business - it's both because we have money, but also, because they want to show off, to say, "Hey, my establishment is worthy of your being here. I am proud of it." When all is said and done, I guess I'm a true capitalist - I really do like seeing small businesses make it, and I want to support them here in any way I can.

Wow... even with all the bad grammar in this blog, I wrote this at an eighth grade reading level (according to the grammar check). I was usually writing at a sixth grade level. I need to lower my standards more.

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