Afghanistan: Snow, rain, mud, conflict


Afghanistan: Snow, rain, mud, conflict
by bppopkin

Week four
In a land of snow, rain, mud, conflict, Afghanistan – Saturday, 6 March 2010

Okay, you Fibonacci stock speculators. What do the numbers 90 98 99 100 101 103 104 105 106 108 109 110 111 112 114 115 116 199 200 201 202 203 210 211 212 215 216 250 251 252 253 254 300 301 308 313 317 318 323 351 401 408… 3730 3740 3750 3780 have in common?

Give up? The sequence of dishtv in my Kabul Guest House suite. Sounds good? Actually, really, 99.9999 percent of these stations broadcast in Hindi, a language of many with which I am unfamiliar. Plus, for each brownout, the TV resets so I need to search for BBC Global, CNN and the Cartoon Channel.

Intriguing delays, lock-downs, staff turnovers, brown outs, rescheduling… just the normal stuff. In my extra hours, I learned much for free online. Through Montana State University (Stewardship of Small Acreages), University of Illinois (Crop Production, Fruits and Vegetables, Irrigation), University of Minnesota (Introduction to Animal Agriculture), University of Missouri (Military Geology), USAID (Agricultural Partners Workshop), and US EPA (Agriculture 101).

There are unruly horses to ride here, but not broken in well. I was told that earlier in the program, a bright Afghan-American from Georgia, USA, came for an interview and was to be hired. But he went off and rented a horse, was thrown, and died. Not good.

What is the difference between Afghan paper currency and used toilet paper? Not much. I can see why the commode hose is so popular. Of course, if you fail to turn off the control valve, your bathroom floor floods. And does not drain.
Sadly, upcoming assignments I thought sound are flimsy, and flimsy opportunities may be sound. I may have to resign a temporary appointment from Boston without assignments to take another short-term technical assistance assignment in Afghanistan. An upcoming US assignment I thought solid, evaporated when the client wanted someone this week for six months. Another upcoming 12-month Middle East assignment evaporated when the contractor said they had little funding to meet my humble requirements based on AID fees. My Purchase Order agreement is going nowhere. Few are called; many are snookered.

Friday, weekly Moslem holiday. Cook’s day off. Self-cooking. Box-cereal breakfast. Cream-cheese crêpes and marinated stuffed olives lunch. Tuna sandwich dinner. Flying out to Helmand on Saturday to teach two, three-days crop-pest-disease training-of-trainers sessions to Afghans. Yahoo! I wonder if the plumbing and electrical fixtures will come apart in my hands as in Kabul? Seems if there is a way to poorly fabricate, install or maintain a fixture, Afghan providers will find it - wall mirrors, door handles, toilet-paper holders, towel racks, shower trays, soap racks, wall and floor switches, water and room heaters, drains… Not that I complain. The ongoing terror outside my plush Kabul suite has unaffected me, so far. Gave me a lock-down chance for more online refreshers. Need to get some pens; every time I meet with an official, he brings a team, I pass around a sign-in sheet, and my pen disappears!


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Thank You for all that you do for Afghan people!

by Q on

A poem for you and other invited guests of that needy country:

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.