Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4, 2011

It's 4th of July and I'm back in the USA.

I drank tea and ate breakfast cake with a local stranger at the Kabul airport while I was waiting for the plane. I managed to ask him "Were are you going"  in Dari. He said "Mazar E Sharif". We had some other small conversation in a mix of Dari and english while eating and drinking. I was nearly detained when boarding the plane. There was a problem with the entry stamp on my Visa. Fortunately the guard let me board when I told him where I was working in Kabul.

My time in Afghanistan was awesome, challenging, difficult, rewarding, and eye-opening. I felt like I used everything I had ever learned in my life to accomplish my work and live there. It was very fulfilling. I am looking for another opportunity to go back.

The first few weeks at home were pretty weird. I was able to completely understand the language spoken by the people around me. I was able to read all of the signs and advertisements on walls and billboards. No more Bollywood movies until midnight on Indian TV. No more goospan, liver and gizzards for dinner. No more dust, dirt and mud. Back to the land of Silky Highways, Hotels, American hamburgers and Seafood.

I enjoy visting with my family and friends more than ever.

Unlimited running water, electricity, perfect highways and roads, abundant variety and selection of literally anything we can afford. Life, freedom and opportunity in USA is something unique.

 I will miss my new friends in Kabul. I want Afghanistan to become a country of free people. Because a free country really is all about the people.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The world that I see - May 8th, 2011

I woke up this morning with taste of diesel fuel in my mouth. The power has been out on our street for two days. This happens frequently. The generator continues to generate.

We went to the mall last Friday. It is a huge building, five floors with an underground parking lot. I looked around a lot. I'm amazed at the selection of fine jewels and metals. I bought a bracelet. My house mates bought some clothes and shoes. We ate lunch on the bottom floor in a dimly lit food court. We sat on large couches. People stared at us like we were little green men leaving our spaceships.

There are almost no bald men in Kabul. It seems like everyone is walking around will a nice full head of hair. It is a regular occurrence to see a mini van packed so full of people that two guys are riding along standing on the bumper. I have seen an entire family on one motorcycle. There are many horse and donkey drawn carts on the streets. There are often people so poor and alone that they are sitting and sometimes even laying in the middle of the street.

Found another spot to unwind in Kabul. It's a Restaurant and Salon. We were there for the grand opening dinner. There was a small buffet. My house mates and I sat at a table outside in the courtyard and listened to the local guys play their instruments. It was another priceless experience to add to the many I have had in this city.

Work. I have been assigned to a second compound. I am splitting my time between the two. It is still rewarding and interesting. I am enjoying it. Life is good.

Terror - April 9, 2011

People scare me more than ghosts. Things were pretty violent here last week. There were two attacks only days apart at the United Nations in Mazar-E-Sharif and Camp Phoenix in Kabul. Mazar-E-Sharif is eight hours by car from here. Camp Phoenix is about twenty minutes away from our house. I visit the PX at Camp Phoenix fequently.

Things at work are going good. We are making progress on getting the software, hardware and labor we need to build the network. New buildings are being constructed and landscaping is being done. The network is finally at baseline. The next few weeks we will be busy installing new operating systems on all of the computers in the compound and proofing all of the network connections.

I'm getting settled into a schedule of working, walking, eating, working out, watching a movie and sleeping. Life at the Kabul house is good.

Paranormal - March 17, 2011.

Here is another ghost story from Kabul. I walked towards the door to my room. It was open just enough that I could see inside. The light in my room was off. I opened the door and the light in my room came on by itself. It was weird and I was really suprised but I picked up what I came to get and walked out of the room. The light in my room was on when I left it. I spent a few minutes down stairs then went back up towards my room. The door was open a little and I could see that the light was now off. I have to tell you, as I pushed the door open I was wondering if it would happen again. I though, if the light comes on again when I open this door that would be crazy. I dared it to happen again. I pushed the door open, the light came on. I didn't freak out but it was really wierd. The Kabul house is definately haunted.

Work has been interesting. There have been some big problem with the network. We installed blazing fast internet at the compound. The plan is finally coming together. Our network Doctor has been busy sending out probes and configuring devices.

I had some tasty Indian food for luch last weekend. Fried fish, rice and few other unkown dishes.

Things are going good here. Hope to see you soon.

Boss - February 26th, 2011

I need to dial back the Stress O' Meter a notch or two. I have been working late and for many days now. Friday is my only day off from work.

There has been some drama on the compund where I work. We have been busy setting up new equipment to meet our contract deadline.

We made a brief trip to Finest Grocery Store on Friday. I bought some potato chips, fruit juice and an Orange Crush. Also got a toothbrush. My bank card does not work at the cash machines here. It's difficult to get a haircut with a plastic card. 

I'm shopping for an enduro motor cycle so it will be easier and faster to get around Kabul and to work. 

The weather has been really nice the last few days. Lots of sun. Two of the long walls in my room are all windows so it is really bright inside.

The big boss is in town so everyone is working a lot.

Our evening security guard Abdula is getting some more Mixed Martial equipment for the Kabul House. We are working out almost ever other night.

I spoke to my Grandmom on Valentines day. I've been chatting or Skyping with Daniel and Emily every night.

Paranormal - February 15, 2011

Kabul house is haunted. I woke up to use the bathroom tonight. I
closed the door and I'm sure it latched. I was in there and I saw the
lever on the door move quickly up and down, the door slowly opened. My
bed at night squeaks, but only if it dislikes the way I am laying in
it. Irene says she has heard people making noise upstairs when
everyone was downstairs. Abdula has been slapped in the face while he
was sleeping. Only to wake up and find no one around. I hope the
ghosts don't bug me tonight.

It's snowed three inches here this week. The surrounding mountains
looked beautiful. I worked in the snow for a bit and I enjoyed it.

There are a several people that sell balloons in the street. They
usually have gigantic bunches that are brightly colored. People also
sell phone cards, fruit, candy, soda, nuts and cigarettes. The street
vendors will have a cart to move their wares. Sometimes they transport
it on a board strapped to their back. There are little shops that
repair bikes, sell auto parts, make bread, sell computer parts,
doctors, and grocerys.

Tommorow is a big Holiday in Islam and Afghanistan. It is the birthday
of the Prophet Mohammed. Most stores will be closed and many people
will have the day off from work.

Learning - February 3, 2011

It has been raining for the past three days and the temperature
outside has been about 45 degrees. I have been working until after
5:00pm on most nights so we have been driving home in the dark.

My work at the compound has been challenging. The police officers
there have been patient and friendly. Many people at the compound have
guns. I got another badge yesterday that will make it easier for me to
move around on the compound. My new badge says D.E.A. on it. How cool
is that?

I heard that some bombs went off around the American embassy in Kabul.
It messed up traffic for a few hours.

Being driven to and from work work is the highlight of my day. Getting
anywhere on the roads in Kabul is like being in a car race. There are
people walking, riding bikes, standing, talking on cell phones,
pushing carts in the middle of the street when traffic is going fast.
People frequently will drive the wrong way on a street to get where
they want to go. I really enjoy it.

I've been working out with Abdula. He is our security guard. He is a
local Afghani. He trains in MMA at a local gym. He has been teaching
me Persian.

The operation may be moving to a bigger and better house soon. Shuib
and Massy have been looking for houses this week.