Three Weeks Here
March 23, 2007

I've been thinking about the UN drivers. You hear about some Westerner getting kidnapped in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever, and his or her driver is almost always executed. The drivers do so much more than chauffer. They make sure we get from point a to point b safely, they remind us to lock our doors, they try to accommodate our frequent travel demands, they put up with my concern about every dog we pass...there's a couple I'm particularly fond of, because they are so focused on being helpful. I would so hate for anything to happen to one of them...they really are the unsung heroes of these post-conflict countries.

On the two week anniversary of my arrival, I attended my first project managers meeting. About 11 of us altogether. At one point, we started talking about security, and it felt surreal, talking about getting our staff protocol together for an evacuation. I'm supposed to have a 15 kilo bag ready to go with at any time, leaving all else behind. But how much would that be, really? I have no idea... Kabul is flourishing as the weather gets warmer and drier, with more and more people on the streets, more items in the shack and stores, more and more construction going on every day... but if the Taliban launches the offensive they are threatening, it could all come crashing down. Even just a couple of bombs would drag this city far back from where it is now. The Westerners feel so incredibly entrenched and invested here, and so many institutions, businesses and even local people rely on them so much...what a nightmare it would be to get all those thousands and thousands of people out of the country... and what a sadness to leave millions behind... let's hope that doesn't happen.

I've been happy to hear so much of what I learned for my Master's Degree repeated again and again by people I work with, people who are definitely on the front lines in a very unstable environment. You wonder when you are studying if what you are learning is really going to be true in the real-world, and if it's really going to help you in your future work. I'm glad to say that it has turned out to be really helpful here. People are really shocked when they find out after talking to me a while that I've never been to Afghanistan before. Most don't know I've never lived in a developing country either. I'm glad I don't broadcast that. But I'm sure it's possible to tell if you REALLY scrutinized me.

I forgot to say earlier -- I went to a St. Patrick's Day party at a UN guest house on my second Friday in the country. It was nice. I met lots of UN Volunteers, which is always great. I had my first alcohol in Afghanistan -- a Guinness, ofcourse. But I stuck with Pepsi (yuck) for most of the evening; I just feel like having a really clear head while I'm here. Several people said they would email me -- and didn't. Sigh. It sure is hard to make friends here.

What I'm reading: The Three Musketeers. At least I'm trying to. Most nights, I'm just too tired to read. Really glad I brought my head lamp though -- it's great for reading in bed.


If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing --
without comments, I start to think I'm talking to cyberair.

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