Saturday, September 30, 2006

MoI & thyroid update

Ministry of Interior bombing. Ugh, it's heartbreaking.

So, they're going to zap my hyperthyroid with some such or the other. I'm here for another week as a result but duuuude, I'm way over it. I'll be happy to stop breaking out in rashes though. I'm not taking the other medicine right now and I'm slowly feeling the trembling come back. Sigh.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Did he lose his damn mind?

I would like to formally say: AAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.

At what point does sending thexy emails to a 16 year old make sense?

This sounds about right

When Hamid Met Pervez

New York Times - Editorial

It will take more than a shared dinner at the White House to get Presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to think and say nice things about each other. Their quarrel is no mere war of words in competing press interviews. It is about the real war being waged on Afghan soil by a revitalized Taliban, which recruits fighters in Pakistan and sends them almost unimpeded across a shared border.

General Musharraf says he is doing his best to stop this infiltration. But his best has been strikingly ineffective, considering the powers he wields as a military dictator, accountable only to his fellow Pakistani generals.

His latest move on the Taliban front was discouraging, to say the very least. This month he agreed to a cease-fire deal with tribal allies of the Taliban in North Waziristan, the border region of Pakistan where Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are thought to be holed up.

The agreement grants such foreign fighters the right to remain so long as local Taliban forces do not attack Pakistani soldiers and promise they will not cross into Afghanistan. As part of this understanding, Pakistani military checkpoints in the area are being dismantled.

President Karzai is understandably unhappy about this. President Bush should be too. Those Taliban fighters crossing into Afghanistan are not just killing Afghans. They are also killing American and NATO troops in growing numbers. This isn’t the first time General Musharraf has put domestic concerns ahead of the larger fight against international terrorism. He is still a useful American ally in that fight, but a dangerously selective one.

It would be overly simplistic to blame General Musharraf alone for Afghanistan’s increasingly perilous situation. In its hurry to move on to Iraq, the Bush administration never committed enough troops to establish the security needed for redevelopment and democracy to take root. And it has been too stingy with the kind of long-term development aid required to consolidate popular support.

Mr. Karzai, for his part, has been far too indulgent of corruption and drug trafficking. And, in the hope of extending his authority beyond Kabul, he has made damaging deals with brutal warlords.

Now that the dinner is over, Mr. Bush needs to focus on the real problems of Afghan security and reconstruction. And he needs to remind General Musharraf that the very minimum America expects of its allies is that they not concede any form of sanctuary to such sworn enemies of the United States as the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The power of the voice

In Afghanistan, where so much power is based on guns and violence, reading about Stephen Biko's life was a reminder of how strong one man's voice can be:

He was banned during the height of apartheid in March 1973, meaning that he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time, was restricted to certain areas, and could not make speeches in public. It was also forbidden to quote anything he said, including speeches or simple conversations.
Thanks Wikepedia
The Taliban know the strength of one person's voice. The impact that one person can have on the rest of the people.

So they kill that one person.

The loss of Amma jan is yet another heartbreak for Afghanistan. We have so many people in Afghanistan, working hard to keep their families together and sometimes even branching out to help others outside of their families. But Afghanistan needs help. More help. The Taliban are methodically killing off the people who spoke for us. The people who eloquently stood with their people and said, "We'll fix this if you give us a chance." I don't know what else to do other than to cry. Like Taniwal, like countless unknown ones before them - I can't help but feel hopeless.

My mom asked when are you moving back from Afghanistan? I don't know. It just doesn't seem like the right thing to do right now.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

Steve Biko
I don't feel like doing anything right now.

I think, after this, I will keep my laptop closed today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Listening Dinner

I had dinner with my friend and his wife recently. He and I are both suffering from health problems and while I bitch and complain more – he is suffering more but is more patient. I just have never been one for silently dealing with things.

The minute I have an issue, my first thought is, “Which friend can I call?” Shukur, I have a lot of good friends and when I call, they are there to support me.

I think I did a bad job of supporting them though. I was so caught up in trying to fix all of his health problems (yoga – and no, I don’t do yoga myself) that I don’t know if I listened.

So I left for the U.S. and am thinking that perhaps I should have done less. Listened more. Sometimes I go into overdrive, trying to make people laugh. When maybe I should sit and listen instead. I just so desperately wanted to fix everything.

Or maybe I listened enough? I don’t know. I did the best I could. I also loved, loved his wife and his daughter. So happy to have finally met them, what a blessing they all are, shukur. Do y’all ever have that? Meet people and then think, wow, they’re so cool. But not in an intimidating too cool for school way. More in a “wanna be my best friend way and can I make you a friendship bracelet” way. I should go get some thread - I bet I can still make those bracelets.

And his wife and I are both obsessed with Atiq Rahimi – check out his new book. They bought it for me and I love love love his writing. His first book, “Earth and Ashes” haunts me still.

Did y'all notice that I know how to hyperlink now?

Monday, September 25, 2006

The first day of Ramazan

Well, my first day of Ramazan didn’t go so well. Well, I fasted and prayed but I lied 3 times and got violently angry. I decided to fast even though I was traveling because the Ariana flight was leaving at 5 pm and Iftar would be around 5:45 or so. I assumed that the flight would be super late.

As a tangent, I’m writing this at 8:17 in Georgia and I was wondering what was weird. And you know what it is? The fact that we have electricity on at 8:18 am.

Anyway, I just assumed that the flight would be late. I didn’t have any waseta* so I couldn’t roll through VIP as I sometimes do (my aunt’s nephew works in VIP and sometimes I get the hook-up, along with the diplomats who get it b/c they are diplomats and businesspeople who have the VIP folks on their payroll). So I went there early with my driver and went through the various checks.

I got asked how much my salary was by the women checking my bags (who are notorious for asking for money and harassment). And without thinking, I just lied. I said 1,000 Afs. In other instances, I’ve actually told the truth. I didn’t even realize that I lied until later.

I then got into a SCREAMING match with the head of visa. Some guy at Ariana took me and three other girls out of line to go through customs because we were female. It was nice of him but then the head of visa wouldn’t allow us through. I started yelling at the guards and then yelled at the head of visa.

I yelled, “Are you Muslim? Harassing us in Ramadan?” That was a bit much for him. I knew it was going to far when I said it. But I seem to be moving on instinct these days.

He got in my face and said, “Where were you in line?”

I yelled back, “I’m not going back, I shouldn’t have been taken out of line in the first place and now I’m not going back. You’re very rude. Why are you harassing me? I’m sick and I am going to Dubai for treatment (total lie)."

I yelled, “I have cancer!” (again, a total lie and where did it come from?).

He and I yelled a little more and then he let me by. I said thank you and then one other soldier came up and said – sister, you should complain. He’s a complete cow. His name is Najib and he’s the head of visa. I said, who’s his boss? Which ministry?

If I remember, I’ll complain about him. I actually don’t feel bad about yelling at him. A local can’t do it and I have no problem telling people when they’re rude. Besides, you have to be a bitch to get through the airport. But telling him that I had cancer? Now, that was a new one. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have felt bad about the lie if it wasn’t Ramazan. I did feel embaressed when I remembered that I met a woman in line who knew my uncle in Australia and what if she tells him that I have cancer or realized that I lied? Especially after we complained about Muslims not being nice in Afghanistan (note my self-righteousness).

Later, as I was relating the story over the phone, I noticed this man staring at me while I was on the phone. He was sitting over at the prayer section, picking at his feet with another group of men.

Every woman who has been to Afghanistan is sadly familiar with the uncomfortable, piercing stare that some Afghan men inflict on women. These men are probably the same that cloak their women in chadaris (burqas) and are the men that sometimes make me wish I had a chadari on.

Again, without thinking, I met his gaze for about 10 seconds, making my displeasure known and then turned to him, mid-conversation and said, “Do you need something? Don’t look at me if you don’t need anything.” I loudly said over the phone. “This cow is looked at me like he has no manners. It’s RAMAZAN.” He blushed and then said something to his neighbor and smiled.

Every time he looked, I met his gaze and furiously stared back. After a while, he stopped even glancing over at me. I know, because I was keeping an eye on him.

Just think of it as my way to help better the manners of our people.

I’m so self-righteous.

Every year, Ramazan is very different for me. Sometimes it’s unbearably hard; it passes in a fog of sleeplessness and hunger. Then, everything after Ramazan is much easier, and I realize how much stronger and more compassionate it makes me. Only later do I realize that I could have handled the lack of hunger and sleeplessness more graciously.

I think this Ramazan, I should work on getting back to being more gentle, more thoughtful, more patient, I’ll try to think before I speak (I told someone I had cancer? God forbid) and I’ll try to be touch less self-righteous.

I wish everyone a loving, peaceful and blessed Ramazan (and afterwards too!).


*Waseta is roughly translated as special connections or relations with someone powerful. I am often surprised when non-Afghans living in Afghanistan don’t understand or know this word because everything in Afghanistan is run on waseta. Everything.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I'm home, well, in my other home! I surprised my mom and now I'm sitting on the couch, waiting for dinner.


Monday, September 18, 2006

I've officially decided to suck it up

I'm so tired of myself and my hive-ridden body. I'm on anti-histamines and while they haven't solved it completely, it's bearable. When I'm done being irritated, I'll write about the healthcare system in Afghanistan and how even the most expensive place (German Clinic, where they take $100 deposit)...still says, so, 'You're going to the U.S. soon, to get checked out, right?"

We heard two shots outside of our office and my two co-workers ran to the window to check it out, while I yelled at them. I then gave up, sent a chat message to my cousin, "BRB - shooting" and looked out the window with them. We saw some running soldiers but nothing else. Nothing to the scale of the bombing 2 months ago. Or maybe I'm just getting used to it.

Poland gave 1,000 troops, which is positive - they didn't mention whether they Polish troops are allowed to go down south. And the U.S. army has started an offensive down south. Lots of flying helicopters in Kabul.

I'm working on a bullshit report right now. Donors give lots of money, require hiring expensive experts (usually from their country/organization). Donors then require time-consuming reports so said experts will write reports rather than work on actual reform. I am not the expensive expert, btw. Our expensive experts are out of town. Eye roll and dramatic sighing ensues.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Your friday update

I heart Fridays. I love family and new friends that invite me over for brunch and let me sprawl out in their house all day long.

And I love dancing in my chair while at work. The thought that someone will walk in makes me giggle.

I've diagnosed myself with hives but am going to a real doctor tomorrow. What if I'm allergic to nutella? Ack!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

oh no

So, I started itching again. I popped in two allergy pills and this morning realized that:

1) I’m severely allergic to the cat
2) I’m allergic to the allergy medicine.

What do I do with the cat? And, in much more positive news, I'm looking forward to my Friday. Yay, day off!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Missed opportunity - I hope not


For some Western observers, the past four years feel like a missed opportunity. "US and international attention veered from Afghanistan in mid-2002, and focused on Iraq," says a senior Western diplomat in Kabul. "There was a feeling they had got rid of the Taliban, and left a good man [Karzai], and that things would settle down."
Doubts Intensify Over Afghanistan's Future


NATO members have refused to increase troops to Afghanistan. After these past weeks of rocket attacks and bombings in Kabul and the months of warfare in the south of Afghanistan, I am disgusted and depressed.

We (Afghans) are trying to clean up, rebuild and start new lives here but we need help. There’s so much going wrong here and I’m just angry and sad. Nato States Ignore Afghan Call

They’re asking for 2,500 extra people. That doesn’t seem that much to me.

Oh, and there was a suicide bomber at the funeral of Governor Taniwal (Khoda bobakhshesh).
The funeral of an Afghan provincial governor, the most senior official to be killed in the country this year, was attacked today by a suicide bomber, who killed six people, including a 12-year-old boy.
Bloodshed at Afghan funeral of politician

Medicine Debacle

K, this may be horrifying to some but I’m fine. I think this demonstrates the state of medical care in Afghanistan.

I had some sort of rash on my back. I took a shower, thinking it might be the bug spray that I put on the previous night (water was cold yesterday morning and I just couldn’t bear to take a cold shower in the cool Fall morning). Well, I took the shower, popped in a DVD in my laptop, sprawled out on the bed and started to watch the movie. I took some allergy medicine, thinking it would help.

About an hour into it, I realized that my skin was burning on my arms, upper back. It slowly crept to the right side of my face. After it started to feel unbearable, I walked to the living room where my uncle was watching TV. He was immediately worried and the two 70 year old servants, our family friend who is kind of our bodyguard and my Uncle surrounded me to discuss what is the next step.

Our family friend went to his room and came back with some pink pills, saying that he thought it was allergy medicine. My uncle looked at them and said, oh good, this is Benadryl. Take 2 of these.

They wanted to take me to the hospital but I didn’t want to. The private clinics are closed and I just didn’t have the energy for the hospital’s emergency room.

Then he sent our family friend to get some antihistamines from the pharmacy.

The servants changed my sheets; general consensus was that it was the bug spray that I sprayed on my sheets (and according to them: I work so much, making me tired, which makes me more sensitive).

So, on top of the allergy medicine I took, the pink pills, I took another 10 mg of some sort of antihistamine. Yeah, I know – it made sense at the time.

Our family friend’s sister, my Khala, called to check up on me. My Khala is an angel, she deserves a separate post; I love her so much. She called and asked if I could come to her house so she could keep an eye on me, or did I want her to spend the night at our place? I said not to worry about it, I’m fine. I fell asleep in about 30 minutes.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of a woman’s voice and knocking. It was my Khala! She wanted to take me to the dr. but I didn’t have time and I’m waaay over the dr. scene.

I’m fine now, except for some sinus congestion – which is weird, with all the allergy medicine that I took.

Oh and the pink pills? Not allergy medicine, high blood pressure medicine.

It was funny, don’t say that it isn’t funny. And I'm fine. But think about what its like for other Afghans. Without resources...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sad news

I listened to the radio this morning on my way to work. I don’t have the Volga anymore and the new car has a radio. The radio newscaster was interviewing local Afghans about the recent suicide bombing. Everyone I heard on the radio was against suicide bombings. The real question is, do they think that the suicide bombers are martyrs (and therefore, destined for a place in heaven?)? Some Muslims, unless they are religious scholars, are hesitant to make these pronouncements. But that wasn’t the case here. Everyone on the radio said, “No, the suicide bombers aren’t martyrs. The innocents he killed were martyrs.”

I have been trying to avoid the news regarding the recent attack. It’s just too much to dwell on right now. Unfortunately, things are getting worse. The governor of Paktia, Governor Taniwal, was killed. He was an academic who taught in Australia and moved here to help rebuild Afghanistan. He was a true patriot.

Today is September 11, 2006. Please say a little prayer for all the lives lost, everywhere. My life has changed so much since September 11th, 2001. So many lives lost, yet a re-birth for Afghanistan. I pray that Afghanistan isn’t forgotten again.

I'm sad but still, determined and hopeful. Drop by drop, we make a river.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm fine v. 2

Hey y'all, I'm fine. I wasn't close to the bomb but I did hear the big boom. I didn't realize what a big deal it was until the news reports trickled in. Please say a little prayer for the lives lost.

I didn't post yesterday because I was out and about, celebrating my baby cousin's b-day and then to a work dinner. I guess that sounds weird with the bomb and all, but I can't spend my life on hold. And before I came, I somewhat made my peace with the situation in Kabul. This is where I want to be.

And don't worry O, I always will miss my family and friends in the U.S. And 7-11 Slurpees. And Waffle-House. And...let me just stop now.

On a different tangent, it's such a lovely season in Kabul. Fall, even with its dust, is beautiful. There is a cool air mixed with the hot sun and it makes me feel that something fresh and new is on its way. The security situation isn't very good now but I'm hopeful that it will get better.

Thanks to everyone for the e-mails and posts.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

India Pictures

The Masjid by Isa Khan's Tomb

Lattice-d thing in Humayon's Tomb

Part of my henna-ed hand

*Thanks to my cousin for taking all of these pictures.

An Afghan Tourist in India

I went to India with my cousin and her baby, bought lots of shirts, 2 pretty saris (which, umm, I don’t know how to wear), henna-ed my hands (it’s really unprofessional but pretty) and missed Kabul. My cousin is writing a guest post to re-tell all the funny things on the trip.

I have a moment in all trips where I think, “Oh, I could live here. That’d be cool.” And then I realize. No, Kabul is where I want to be.

Delhi was interesting, hectic and busy. It’s green, wet and lush, unlike Kabul, which is yellow and red, dry and dusty.

Traffic jams dotted with colorful saris. And huge, absolutely huge. Atlanta has nothing on this urban sprawl.

In between the doctor visits, we roamed around the city, with plenty of breaks to eat and revel in the air-conditioned coffee shops. I love those coffee shops and fabric. I love fabric.

I went to the dr, and I do have hyperthyroidism but I’m on medicine now and should feel the effects in about 2 weeks. I’m happy about the diagnosis, I was afraid that I would have to go through another round of tests if the thyroid tests were negative.

Unfortunately, I sprained my ankle in India (at the Adidas store) and then somehow got a nail in my heel at the Kabul airport. I’m over the whole doctor scene so forget it; I’m not getting a tetanus shot. I got one about three years ago and according the Mayo Clinic’s website, that is enough.

By the way, Cousin H, who was sick, is doing better now, shukur.

I missed Kabul while I was in Delhi. I missed the mountains and yes, even the dust. I missed seeing my fierce people, turbaned, pakooled, veiled, laughing and chatting on the street, enjoying every bit of this precious peace that we have right now. We had a number of attacks, in and around Kabul, while we were gone. I hope things get better soon, here and in the south.