Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Less navel-gazing…well as best as I can stop, at least…

So someone asked for a real post, well rather they asked for a more “concrete” post, about what I’m doing and such. And another friend asked for me to do a “food blog/post.” I checked out a few, and they write about the actual cooking of food or recipes. We eat well. I do no cooking. We get a mix of what I’ll associate as south asian food and American food. Tonight, we had pot roast again. But the salad was lettuce and apples, with mayo. And the bread we get is bad white bread, know in urdu as “dhuble roti” or “dhuble toast,” or really good traditional afghani bread. So until I start getting in the kitchen and learn a few afghani dishes, there won’t be a food post, except for maybe on thanksgiving.

For the job stuff, it’s probably not that interesting for most…but, and perhaps sadly, I actually find it quite interesting. It’s more accurate to say that my day-to-day job is really not that exciting, but when is such ever? I am writing a report on the northern cities of Afghanistan, from an office in Kabul. I’m writing this report having never seen or been to more than what could be seen in an hour in Afghanistan. Despite my actually being here, I feel like I’m working ON Afghanistan rather than IN Afghanistan. Well, disregarding the fact that I hear Dari all day, and get to see the hills surrounding Kabul. So basically, I’m doing typical consultant work. I have years of experience at that kind of BSing.

In summary, I’m working under a US AID contract for infrastructure development in Afghanistan, energy development in particular. Stop reading here, I beg you.

But if you insist…my current project is a report the energy infrastructure of parts of the north of Afghanistan. Maybe one day I’ll actually see the area. Elizabeth, another aid worker here is actually up there and doing work IN that part of the country, and she has a picture up, so that satisfies the “new pictures” promise in my last post…I hope. So I’ve been doing a mix of number crunching, report writing and a lot of discussing.

As I said before, this is a new world for me, “world” being used in the figurative sense here. I am learning a ton about energy technology, and infrastructure development…it has been a head first dive. The forecasting part is quite interesting and quite surreal. I’ve worked on projects and toyed with numbers that directly affect people, but it’s always been in telecom, so it didn’t strike me as critical. It may have been, especially for the military projects, but it was always developing and deploying the latest and greatest. It was never in developing something I’ve always taken for granted, something I have always considered intrinsic, electricity. But all I’m really doing in this stuff is writing long reports in MS Word, far from actually building the infrastructure. We have other guys to do that…real engineers.

So, it’s a lot of modeling and forecasting and number crunching and planning and report writing and data collection and more report writing, some institutional development thrown in for flavor. Though I’ve only been at it for little over a week, that’s what I gather I’ll be doing for the next X months.

Here too, I promise, there wont be many, if any, more posts like this one. Hopefully the “so what are you doing?” questions will be less frequent, not that I’m complaining. And well, here’s a picture at the end of this post to boot. Another view off my roof deck.


Shannon said...

So what do you...oh. I'm sorry I couldn't resist. You've got an interesting blog here, I'll keep reading when I have the chance.

Anonymous said...

Glad you are having fun in your secluded compound.
Keep helping to save world one paper cut at a time. Yes sir, make Afghanistan a better place… despite those dammed evil Afghanis. I mean who the hell do they think they are with their shiny new laptops.

Q. A. Shah said...

Thank you for being the only person so far to give me what I deserve. There should be a flood of comments asking only that question.

Lakey, is that you? if so drop me a line. If not, L, i apologize.


Vasco Pyjama said...

Q, I echo what you say. It often does feel like more working ON rather than IN Afghanistan. Yeah, I 'm finding this to be one of my stranger postings.

Shannon said...

Q, I didn't really intend to mock you. You don't deserve a slew of comments like that, I was making a feeble attempt at self-depreciation. It truly was an interesting post.

Q. A. Shah said...

I have a blog. It's humanity's solemn duty to mock me now. Besides, I didn't take your comment as having an insulting tone, just good opportunism. I expect mocking, the insulting type, in the future. I'll provide plenty of opportunity for that. Glad you found the post interesting though.

Shannon said...

Q, I thought having a blog made it your solemn duty to humanity to keep them engaged during those hours at work when one just simply can't stare at another excel spreadsheet or handle files. At least, that's what blogging means to me.

Now I must eagerly await another post to try my hand at sincerely mocking...oh the pressure.

Q. A. Shah said...

First, it's Q.A. from now on, in case you haven't been keeping track of the comments on the following post. Thank you for your cooperation.

And your point is true. But I hope its a two way street here, we all share a burden in this game. Also, having and posting to the blog keeps me engaged during those hours at work.

Signing Off,

Elizabeth said...

I knew you must be posting at work. Your posts are so long.

So what do Turkmen taste like?

Q. A. Shah said...

Whatever i ate, it was good.

For the record, as i just found out that my boss knows about my site now, I've never posted from work, though I have commented. As is probably obvious from the coherency of the posts, they're often insomniac drivel.

Even if my posts are long, which they are, at least i've avoided numbered lists, ahem. I feel this might be the pot calling the kettle...