Friday, August 18, 2006

Reassuringly Pavlovian

I was partly packing up, and partly watching the “Arrested Development” Season 1 I had just picked up. Then I heard some noises coming from outside my window. They were loud noises and my mouth started salivating. Well I wasn’t so much salivating, but I did immediately pause the DVD, take a second, and then go for the camera. I’m kinda disgusted by that. The going for the camera part, but it’s not the first time, and probably wont be the last time. And as terrible or even disgusting as it may be that I want to take pictures when I hear explosions going off, I’m kinda happy that the response is somewhat Pavlovian. If only for the reason that it means that I’m not completely acclimatized to living here, or even rather that I am correctly acclimatized, in that I notice explosions.

Usually when I’m sitting at my desk, in front of my computer with the music playing, and I hear what later turns out to be a door slamming or an engine backfiring my middle finger finds its way instantly to the mute button. The circumstances were slightly different tonight, but the ends were pretty much the same.

This time though, it was fireworks going off. Yeah, I know, I had the same “wtf” response when I got out on the patio, camera in hand, and saw what was going on. Tomorrow is Independence Day. And well, there has been a weeklong continuing “wtf” response to the holiday too. Since not much of the local staff can explain what/whom the “independence” was from (the day of celebrating the defeat of the Soviets is in spring), and assuming that it’s done in correlation with India’s and Pakistan’s Independence Day celebration, i.e. from the Brits) and I can’t seem to find much info on such, or rather get a satisfying explanation, I hoping someone else here can provide info on that. After all, even the Durand Line is still in place.

Anyway, I got to see some fireworks. And as far as that particular “wtf” response, even though I’m all for celebrating one’s independence from occupiers (please, no irony/hypocrisy comments here...I’m well aware), are fireworks, exploding off TV Hill, the smartest thing to do in Kabul? A parade, showing big guns and waving kids—that I would have thought as much more appropriate these days. The time of the display going off would have been an ideal time to drop some RPGs or set off some IEDs. I think some tracers even went off from the side of town opposite where the fireworks were launched from, at least they looked like tracers.

My reservations notwithstanding, I got to see some nice fireworks. And once again, right around the time I’m leaving Kabul, explosions are going off. In celebration this time, thankfully. And hopefully tomorrow, any explosions will be for the same reason.

Last, but not least: Happy Afghan Independence day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fighting Time

Its been a while since I’ve last posted, and since I’ve been home. Both are being remedied. At least one, thankfully (and I'm posting pictures, but I don't think they really count). The posting and the trip home, to me, both seem intrinsically tied. The first few weeks after my arrival here, though I could watch it fade, there was the immediate excitement and newness. Then for the intervening time, there has still been the uniqueness. As familiar as I am with much of this culture, it's not what I had been living in for the whole of my life. That uniqueness, or perhaps better stated as "distinctness" (as every place has its own mix of the universal and unique) at nearly 10 months, isn’t quite there anymore, and so less things get noticed and thought about.

And work has become nearly all-consuming over the past few weeks especially, besides just the new roles I’ve taken on in the past few months. Without trying to say too much, as things are politically sensitive these days, there was an article in the WaPo that discussed much of what we’re involved in and working on. There are a lot of concerns, and thus stress, and so I feel somewhat guilty about leaving at this juncture. But I need it, and soon enough I’ll be overdue on the trip home.

In the mean time, to help curtail the “I’m gettin’ the hell out” sentiment, I’m trying to be appreciative of the things that are quite nice here. After all, I’ll be coming back to them after a few weeks. So on the list, and excuse my superficiality, are daily laundry (though that got annoying so I’ve switched to two or three times a week, but the dude still comes to my door every day asking for my laundry) picked up from and delivered to my room—folded and ironed to boot. See, look below. That, I need to appreciate.

And speaking of my room, I nearly never have to leave it, the exceptions being meetings and food. If I could only get them to bring my plate to my room too... So this all facilitates my laziness way more than is healthy. Spending 20 hours in a room has its pros and cons. The laziness and only having to move a few feet to do most of what I need to do in a day being the main pro. The laziness and having to spend 20 hours in a room being the main con. It is a zero commute, but I wake up and see my desk. Then at the end of the day, I go to bed, and see my desk. You too can see my desk below. Yeah I know, freshman year dorm. But I’m approaching 30 now, and don’t play computer games all day. Yet, there is no commute. At all.

While I’m home, even visiting friends, I imagine I’ll be fighting DC area traffic. Right now all I have to fight is black hole like gravity of my bed...actually, I may be worse off now on that regard.

I’ll be busy, and likely not posting for a while (and I don’t know why I’m putting that point up as it’s been several weeks since the last post) as I get things ready and in place for my absence of a few weeks. Then I’ll be home, and probably not posting much. Not caring about time. Not noticing that the time since something has been too long, or the time till something is too short. Not caring about time, for a time of three weeks, will be nice.

Will be seeing many of you (OK...most of you, besides the random Sudan and Ireland readers) soon.