Friday, June 06, 2008


Well it has been a strange few weeks. A lot going at work and whatnot.

Nothing bad but I am changing jobs. I am going to be the Country Training Manager for a large US contracting agency.

I shouldn’t be here, in Afghanistan, at all. My Visa for Tajikistan has been very slow in the making despite my numerous attempts at bribery. I must be the only guy in whole country that can’t hardly bribe anyone

Anyway, I should have my Visa on Sunday and then I will spend about a week in Dushambe Tajikistan before returning to work here in Kabul.

My new house is very cool. Way better than what I have now, and what I have now is pretty good.

Anyway, all is well.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sorry For Not Posting

Sorry guys. I think I have writers block or something. Every time I go to blog I think of something else to do. I am not dead or anything, just not my usual self. I really think I need to force myself to take a vacation. The place will be fine without me for a few days.

Anyway. Not much new news. Same old same old. We had a worker get killed the other day. 4 guys were trying to manipulate a 3000 pound door. Door won.

OSHA would have a field day here.


I will try to resume normal blogging.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Just my thoughts ओं थे parade and Pagman

A few days ago I was awakened by the sounds of artillery fire. At first I thought it was incoming and took cover while taking a shower. While I was taking a shower it became apparent to me that the rounds were not incoming after all. It turn out that they were firing dummies in preparation for the parade today celebrating independence from the Russians.

The place where the parade was held is about a stones throw across the river from where I live. I have been watching the preparations and was eager to see the parade. Well as I took my position on my roof to watch and after the parade started, rounds were fired from a PKM and a few AK47s. A mortar also landed and wounded some people. Some stray rounds impacted my building so I got off the roof and went inside.

The sad part is that today is an absolutely beautiful day. The weather is perfect, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and the dust is practically gone from the winds 2 days ago. Right now they are saying that they will go ahead and try to have the parade again. I hope they do. For about 2 hours after the attack, helicopters were swarming the area trying to find the insurgents, and a lot of tanks were moving around the city. I am not sure how this happened because the gunfire was coming from this abandoned building overlooking the mosque. Why didn’t they search that building? You know those movies where the Secret Service checks all the buildings and whatnot, well they didn’t do it. Even in Baghdad, when high ranking people stayed in the Rasheed, they would send in security to scope all the exits, check the elevator shafts and whatnot. Even a day 1 moron should have known to check that building.

Oh well. We expats call this place Halfassedastan for a reason. It seems like these guys just don’t want to do anything. For example the other day I told this guy to go talk to this other guy. So he put it on his list. Well then he walked over to this other guys office, the other guy wasn’t there so my guy just crossed it off his list. He never went back, never called the guy, never sent him an email. I told him to go over there, and he did. Done. It never occurred to him that the intent was for him to make contact with this other guy, rather than simply walking over to an empty office. And the guy isn’t stupid, just lazy and uncaring. So that delayed something by a day.

I have learned that if I want to get any little thing done, I either have to do it myself, or practically hold their hands and watch them do it. It is so frustrating.

Anyway, today is a holiday so I am not going to get too bent out of shape. Friday I went to Paghman to have lunch with the CEO at his house. I really did not want to go, but I ended up having a decent time. I mean really, you work with these people all day, all week, and you finally get a day off and they want you to come hang out with them. It isn’t that I dislike my coworkers or anything, I just need a break from them is all.

Well the drive out was pretty nice. A bit unsettling but nice. You see one of the main reasons I am able to move as freely as I can is because I always travel with a very low profile. It is bad enough that I have these infernal tinted windows, but the General decided to have a 3 car convoy. 3 car convoy equals 1 thing. Target. So there we are driving around in unarmored cars near Kandahari refugee camps in this big profile convoy. Not fun.

Well we got there and had a nice lunch. Rather than the usual chicken and rice we had some Arabic dishes. Nasty Arabic dishes. I have learned that anytime someone offers me a “delicacy”, I better run. I have never had a “delicacy” that I have liked to eat. Some of the types of “delicacies” I have been offered include cow brain, eyeballs, tongues, animal feet and balls, various organs, and whatnot. No thanks. I don’t care if it is an insult to not eat that garbage, I aint eating it so get over it. “Here you are Sir, some goat gonads”. You eat em, freak.

Well anyway we decided to take a stroll after lunch. We climbed up some giant mountain. The views were incredible. You could see all the way back to Kabul due to the low levels of dust. Later in the day the winds picked up and the visibility was reduced. By the time we made it back to Kabul the dust was darkening the early evening sun very quickly.

Anyway, I just got done smoking a shisha with a coworker. We are scheming a way to bring western cigarettes to Kabul without paying the tax. We are going to pay off some dude and then open a shop near the city center. We will also sell some alcohol, but have not sorted the delivery details. I am also getting into the antique business. They have some very rare stuff here. I plan on selling it all on E-Bay, soon.

I got 2 new batons today. I asked for a swagger stick, but they brought me a wood and metal baton. Not quite what I wanted but I guess it will do. I had wanted the swagger stick to just smack people, and unfortunately you can’t really do that with a baton. Well I guess you could but it would leave a more lasting impression. I requested that they build a bunker on the roof and stick an RPG gunner up there with a PKM belt fed automatic 7.62 MM machine gun. I would prefer a .50Cal but I can’t find one. Right now that is.

Well I love it here. I think I may stay for a long time. Now I will try to post some pictures.


This is the Intercontinental Hotel.

Another meat shop. It looks like the meat is right on this dude. Very sanitary though.

This is some lake where all the Kabul residents go on holidays. A lot of people die here due to being really drunk or on opium. They say there is no bottom to this lake. Hmmmm...

This is some building. Looks cool. No idea what it is.

This photo was taken from a bridge. Looks cool to me. You can drink this water as no cities or anything are between the melting snow and this water. I guess Global Warming is real after all.

View from our villa:

Me, up on some mountain:

More me:

Me and the dudes I was with:

The villa seen from my telephoto lens:

Here I am up on some wall:

These are the other expats:

OK, look at the car we are behind. Keep in mind we are going fast.

I just love this photo. I think this one will be copied so I added my website to it. My favorite part is the caution sign used while transporting babies in the trunk.

This is a Kandahari refugee perched on a rock:

Friday, April 25, 2008

What do Toilets and Drifting Have in Common?

I hope I can pull this one off. It wont be easy but let me give it a shot.

I have been saying for years now that one of the biggest challenges facing this civilization is the deal with toilets. Namely, using them. I have discussed at length my observations about how the Muslim world views the simple act of taking a dump.

I can tell you that some of the most disgusting places in this area to visit are the bathrooms. For some strange reason these guys, for the most part, seem to want to use Eastern style toilets, AKA holes in the ground. Now I will freely admit that some bathrooms in the States are very disgusting, but for the sake of this argument, I would like to confine my comments to the types of bathrooms which are generally sanitary and clean, not the truck stop type with no bowl lids and un-flushed crap in the water.

OK, so assume we are talking about a very reasonably well kept bathroom, one that is washed several times per day by a good janitor and is fitting to sit your ass on it. Imagine any toilet you wouldn’t mind sitting on without a minor wipe of the seat. Ok. A decent crapper.

So that is what we have here where I work. A clean, normal, decent crapper. But actually not so much. You see, they will not use the crapper like a normal person uses the crapper. They feel compelled to try to straddle the crapper rather than sit on it. What do I mean by that? Imagine walking towards the crapper, but rather than turning around and sitting on it, you walk right toward the crapper and put your feet on the lid. Yes, you STAND on the toilet. Imagine yourself facing a toilet, if you are a guy, you would be standing there about to piss in it. But instead of turning around and sitting down, you step forward, and place your right foot on the right side of the lid and your left foot on the left side. Got that?

Now to maintain balance you have to hug the toilet reservoir. So there you are, facing the wall, standing backward on the toilet bowl, hugging the reservoir, ready to take a dump. You complete the dump and now Phase II begins.

A full body wash down.

It seems like 1000 gallons of water is used, and deposited on the floor after every Number 2 movement. The Niagara Falls pales in comparison to the amount of water consumed by these guys to “wash up” after taking a simple deuce. You can literally track the person who last used the toilet by following the wet footstep marks left on the carpet. Seriously.

What does any of that have to do with Drifting?

Not that much actually, which is why I acknowledged it would be hard to tie together.

OK, I will have to get back to drifting another time. I wrote this earlier this week and lost my train of thought.

Today was OK. We drove to Pagman, high in the hills. I will write about this tomorrow as I really don’t feel like writing it now. We drove for about 2 hours each way to get there and it is 1925 and I haven’t done anything. I have some cool pictures to post. I may change my mind and post it tonight, but I doubt it.


Saturday, April 19, 2008


Have I mentioned I love it here? Well I do.

This weekend was great. Yesterday I managed to meet some local kids and fly a kite and play some soccer. (It is actually becoming difficult to refer to soccer as soccer rather than football btw) I have some cool pictures. I also got to make fun of some girls who were scared of a really nice stray dog. The dog is a big playful animal, just like any fun loving dog in the US, but they really got freaked by this dog. I laughed at them and they joked that I should go touch it. So I whistled and the dog came over and I started petting it. They all ran away. Note to guys in Afghanistan, a good way to “not” pick up chicks is to have a cute dog. I probably could have hooked up if I stabbed the dog or decapitated it. HAHA just kidding, I think.
We have a black cat that shows up at mealtimes. I swear the thing is not 8 months old and pregnant. The blackest cat I have ever seen with really cool eyes. Well the cat is snarky. She knows which of us will feed her and which are mean. So she will sneak into the house behind you and if you are nice she will purr at your heels, if you are mean, she will stand in front of you and make you shoo her out and then run back in. She is such a lush. Anyway, one thing about cats is that they act the same pretty much no matter where you are. You know how they like to dig their claws into your skin when you pet them, well they do the same thing here.

This cat reminds me of the monkeys I saw in Malaysia. VERY snarky!!! If you let your guard down for 1 second they would rob you blind. They got my buddies bottle of water. He sat it down for like 1 second and they snagged it. This cat will do the same thing. Very quick little sucker, just like those monkeys. Only the monkeys would work in teams, 1 monkey would distract you and the other would steal your crap. We saw the monkeys set this one couple up big time. They posed for pictures, acted all nice, and the instant the tourists put down the camera, a really fast monkey came out of nowhere and stole the camera. I kind of felt bad for them because they had let the monkeys make fools out of them. Oh well. The only thing they got from me was about 1000 bananas I kept buying to feed them. I am a sucker for monkeys and elephants. You put a monkey or a baby elephant in front of me, you are gonna be assured that I will buy something from you. That being said, don’t take an elephant ride in Thailand. Very scary. Go see the shows, but do not put your life into the hands of an 80 pound Thai boy trying to control a grown male elephant while sitting on its head with a crow bar. Not fun. Like riding a motorcycle without handlebars.

I seem to be focused on animals tonight. Not sure why. But today I captured a giant fly. In Iraq the flies are puny but move with lightning speed. Here they are giant, almost like flying spiders. When they land and start patrolling the area, it seems like they are medium sized spiders with little wings. They have these really long hairy legs and move like a spider or centipede. The good news is they are easy to kill, the bad news is they leave a big mess. That is why I trap them rather than swat them. You can spray air freshener on them and they will head for a window. I cut a slit in the window so that I could force them out. So far it has worked. I have managed to send 3 flies out the slit in the window and not have to scrape them off my desk.

Anyway, that is probably one of the most boring posts I have ever made, but oh well. This aint a porn site and that wasn’t a money shot. I try to save my good posts for when I really feel like it. Tonight was more of a ramble. So disregard it if you don't like. Today is Monday for me, so please bear with me.

Well I have made up mind. I am going to actively seek employment elsewhere. I do love it here, but there is “0” job security and being in procurement is a bad place when you are dealing with locals. One of my favorite lines in procurement when replying to a boss is to tell them “I can tell you the same lie they told me”. The sad thing is that it is very true. My performance is based on the success of others. For example, if I order a weigh bridge from Pakistan, and the guy tells me it will be ready on the 1ST, well that is what I tell my boss. If he is lying I am to blame. If he then completes the bridge on the 15th and tells me it will ship on the 20th, well that is really all I can go with. After all he is the manufacturer and that is what he tells me. So if he tells me it will ship on the 20th and the freight forwarder tells me it will arrive on the 1st. Well that is the info I must relay. If they decide to screw around or not return my phone calls and the time drags on, I am the one holding the bag. Because they told me one thing, but reality is another thing. I figured out a way around this though, I add 1.5 months to whatever they tell me. So if they say I will 100% sure have it one 1 May 08, I report that it will be ready at the end of July. Kind of like with pizza deliveries. If they tell you 30 minutes and take an hour, you are pissed, but if they say an hour and take 45 minutes, you are happy. That is what I do. I also overestimate costs by a least 75% on my first quotations, then I lower them to make them sound like a deal.
Oh well, we all know that.

Time for bed.


Me and my driver:

Kids in the back alley playing football:

My friends with a kite:

A pic with me and some kids:


A crowd:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A question of Patience

Today I finally got a few new things I was waiting on. Some very high thread count crisp summer sheets and some very fresh spring flowers. Both were very high on my priorities list. I also finished watching the latest episode of Top Chef, but that just pissed me off. I am an aspiring chef and it pains me to see how good some people are and how crappy I am by comparison. I wish I had attended culinary school instead of flight school when I was younger. Although I am passionate about both, I think I am more passionate about fine dining. I do not eat much food. Anyone who knows me has surely at one point kidded with me about never finishing my plate. I am finicky about what I eat, and sadly most restaurants produce food not worth eating. Any chain restaurant sucks; TGIF, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Texas Road House etc… They all suck. The only really good food is at places like Del Friscos and Ruth’s Chris, and even those can suck from time to time. What I appreciate about truly fine dining are the small portions and the multiple courses. I want a few bites of something that makes me want to return time and time again to try something new and different. I think the only food I could never get enough of is this soup from the street vendors in Bangkok. They make a clear soup that makes up for in flavor what it lacks in color. The ambiance of a stinking Bangkok street, with the vendors and the tourists, and the occasional passing baby elephant cannot be duplicated in the world. Well the top chefs manage to create in a single bite, memories of places you have only imagined. I only wish I were that good.

What the hell does that have to do with patience? That is just rambling, yes, I know. Yesterday I was expecting the arrival of 12 trucks containing the framing structure for a pre-manufactured steel building. Demurrages of 80$ a day per 12 containers began over a month ago. The trucks were delayed on the Pakistani border for over a week. There was a lot riding on the timely delivery of that steel and the rapid unloading of the containers. Well yesterday the steel finally arrived at the project site. I remember getting that news at around 0830 in the morning. I ticked it off of my list to do for the day. At around 0930 I decided to go visit the site. I had envisioned myself taking pictures of cranes busily unloading containers and steel being stacked and workers scuttling around to get this stuff unloaded. The problem with that vision is that I am an American. I think American thoughts and sometimes I wrongly project the same American work ethic to non-Americans. So when I arrived at the job site at about 1000, I was horrified to see about 30 Pakistanis sitting along the side of the road, trucks and cranes idle. (The truck drivers were Pakistani, delivering the containers of steel from Karachi). So I went on in and spoke with the Project Manager who informed me that the drivers needed some more money. Well it is not my company’s job to pay for the truckers. We subcontracted that job to another company who subcontracted the job to a company who further subcontracted that task to these guys. Well these sub-sub-sub-contractors were wanting to be paid an additional 100$ per truck for an additional 2 miles they had to drive from the Kabul Customs to the job site. My first reaction was to reach for my wallet to be honest. You need 1200 bucks to complete the job, fine, take it. But then I thought of all the headaches involved in replenishing those 1200 bucks. So I decided to negotiate, long story short it ended in me telling them all to piss off and I got in my car and left.

Well these guys didn’t seem too bothered. They got back in their trucks and sat there for another 5 hours until some other guy I don’t know showed up and made them drive the trucks. As an aside, I tried ordering the Afghan Army to force them at gunpoint to drive the trucks, but unfortunately for me, I wasn’t their boss and they wouldn’t do it. I even asked to borrow an AK so that I could force them at gunpoint to drive the trucks, but they wouldn’t give me an AK. Bastards. I was even going to piss all over their trucks, but unfortunately for me, I didn’t have to pee. Well anyway they eventually came to some agreement and the trucks have since been unloaded.

This afternoon I watched a guy stand in the same position for over an hour. I am not sure what he was doing. He wasn’t spying on us or I would have noticed. He wasn’t waiting on a bus or a Taxi because many passed. He apparently just didn’t have any damn other thing to do, so he just stood there. For about 2 hours. And during that time he did not move more than 1 foot and he did not uncross his arms (that I saw). I regularly see people sit in the same chair for hours on end. I also see people squat for what seems like a lifetime, and hardly move. I can’t figure it out.

I guess my whole point is that basically we Americans have no patience. Just today I was frustrated at how slow the microwave was heating up my food. I even said something out loud to the effect of “POS microwave, we need a faster one”. These guys are lucky to have electricity and I am bitching about 1 vs 2 minutes in the microwave. I guess the good thing is that this is not the first time I have noticed this. I can guess my subordinates are appreciative of the fact that I don’t act as impatiently as I feel. I have to make a concerted effort to not be impatient. I think that is the difference, for me I have to consciously work at it, but it comes naturally to them.

So as I sit here thinking about this post and whatnot, and I am enjoying the nice fragrance from my fresh bouquet of flowers, it really gives me time to appreciate what I have and what others do not. And while I contemplate how nice it would have been to go back to my room tonight and lay on my fresh crisp summer sheets, the fact that although I handed the guy the new box of sheets and told him to put them on the bed, that all he did was place the box of sheets on my pillow just doesn’t really bother me that much. I was hoping to be able to sleep on my fresh crisp sheets, but I can’t, and I don’t really care.


My Flowers: Paid 10 bucks for these.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Meetings and Meat


Sorry for the delay in posting. It seems that every time I decide to write a post, something else pops into my head. I think it may also have something to do with the fact that I have a lot going on and just don’t make the time to update it.

Right now my internet is down and I can’t do anything else so why not update the blog?

Tonight we have a plan to go to a new club. I cannot recall the name of it “L’something”, not Le Bistro, which is a French restaurant, but a proper club. We haven’t been there yet.

Today, and for the past few days it has been rather rainy. It sucks because the weather is warm and I would like to get back outside and play some cricket or soccer. We have a plan to go play at some club but every time we think we can go, it rains. Not that you can’t play in the rain, but it sucks.

Well this morning I went to the KIA ISAF Base to pick up a big-wig from some company I can’t name. It was funny because you could tell he was not used to riding around. It reminded me of the first time I ever had to ride around in Kabul. Not really scared but nervous, he was trying to act tough but anytime a car or a person walked up next to us he would kind of lean away from the window. Like he was afraid we were gonna get blown up. I sometimes feel that way, but I am just like screw it. If you do bite it by way of a car bomb, you aren’t gonna know about it or feel it. Those car bombs shred unarmored vehicles like they are nothing. And I never wear body armor because it is pointless. They aren’t going to shoot me, they are going to kidnap me, and if they blow me up, well that body armor won’t do a lick of good.

Well, I did also get another job offer. I told them I was going to have to think about it. It is a huge raise and it is with a big American company. I would have to go back to the States though to go thru CRC again. What a joke. I already went thru CRC and I already have all the stuff they issue you at CRC and a big thing to note is that I am ALREADY HERE!!! They want me to go back to the States, go to CRC and come right back HERE! What a waste on time and money. SO they will fly me back to the States, put me up in Georgia, then fly me back to where I already am with equipment I already have. The good news is that I can just leave my stuff here and get a letter saying that I don’t need to get it again. I have no desire to lug that crap halfway across the world and back.

Anyway, I still don’t know if I will take the job. I really like it where I am and I am fixing to take another vacation. Right now I am thinking of hitting China. I have a good buddy that lives there, and I haven’t seen him since we met in Istanbul a few years ago. We went to watch Fenerbahce (sp), the Istanbul soccer team, play. They won. Let me tell you though, it was so intense in that place. I am not sure what would have happened if they lost.

Anyhow. The only reason I am holding off on China is because I really want to spend enough time there to hike along the Great Wall. It has been a dream of mine for some time to walk the entire length of the wall. Sort of like hitting the Appalachian Trail only without the pit stops at Motel 6 and 7-11. I am thinking of hiring a crew and filming it. So I am hesitant to go to China when what I really want to do is hike the wall.

It is too late to go to Antarctica this year. Noooo not because it is melting, because it is too cold now. Maybe some Global Warming will hit it and I can visit year round though. I don’t usually talk politics on here but those Man Made Global Warming people are really starting to get on my nerves.

Another location I am seriously considering is India. The only problem with India is that it is so close. I have over 150K miles on Delta so I have a free round-trip first class ticket to anywhere that I was planning on using. I would hate to waste it on such a short flight. Actually I could just pay and fly to India and save my miles for later so never mind. SO maybe I will go to India. I have always wanted to see the Taj Mahal and I Love Indian food. I hear they have the best beef brisket HAHAHAHA!

Speaking of politics. I only get 3 news channels. CNNi, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. We normally watched CNNi because it was the least left leaning of the 3. Well recently we have begun to watch Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera had the most fair and balanced series on Iraq I have ever seen on any channel, including Fox News. It presented the facts, from both sides, and it presented both the negative and the positive from both sides, in an absolutely impartial manner. Equal time was given to all. We also saw a special on Al Jazeera about Israel which was remarkable open and honest. Not what we come to expect from Al Jazeera. So the short story is that freaking Al Jazeera has replaced CNNi and BBC World as the fairest of the 3 networks that we get to watch. And so you know CNNi is the same as CNN only with more commercials, useless programming and recycled news programs.

I finally obtained a cookbook written in Dari/Farsi WITH pictures to give to our cook. Previously I have had to show him how to make stuff which is very time consuming and difficult to do. Well now we have a cookbook and a menu. Now all I do is point out what we want and he makes it. Granted the quality of the meat is still on par with say scraping all the meat off a dirt floor and tossing it in a bag. The way they do meat here is like this. You have your little shack along the side of the road. Your little shack has a dirt floor and no walls really, sometimes walls but usually not a street front wall. You come in to work and you bring a scrawny cow with you. You tie your scrawny cow up to a pole or something right outside your store. Your store happens to be on a dirty street with lots of traffic and 10 feet from where the cars are. You get yourself all ready and decide to open up the store and then you go outside and slit the cow’s neck open. After it bleeds to death you butcher it and hang all the meat on hooks from the roof of your store. The main thing you do is make sure to put the cow head right out by the road so that people know you have fresh meat hanging. Then you just sit there and wait for customers to come. Never mind the flies on the meat or the rain washing muddy water onto it or the dust and dirt blowing onto it. You just hang it there and when someone comes by, you just chop off a chunk for them and away they go. Same goes for lamb, chicken fish, pretty much any meat. What they do with the fish is they nail them side by side to a piece of wood and when you want one they pry it off for you. So it isn’t really quite as sanitary as say, anywhere else I have been.

Well now the cook has the cookbook so at least we have something other than chicken and rice on a daily basis.

Well anyway, that is about it. I only think I have 1 picture I can post so let me see if I can find that.


In case you wanted see what is in my desk drawer:

Friday, April 04, 2008


The title of this post is "Another Friday". For some reason it keeps putting it in Hindi and I don't know how to stop it. I tried using an _ , but that didn't work.

Today was a very enjoyable day despite the constant rain.

Earlier, I went to Camp Phoenix to try to find some Copenhagen. They didn’t have any. So, thoroughly soaked, I headed back to the office. On the way back, the traffic was light. We encountered a large US mil convoy with 2 Rhino busses and 4 Hummers. We stayed well away from them. We also encountered some police checkpoints. As usual, we were stopped for having tinted windows. I asked them why they don’t just rip the tint off or get a permit. Apparently, the permits are hard to get and the tint is a part of the glass, not a film.

Well we talked our way out it and I showed them my DoD card. No worries. And then a bit later we encountered a Turkish patrol. Again, I did not have my camera, but I wish I did. From now on I am going to carry my camera.

Anyway, recently, I have heard people refer to Afghanistan as a “Romantic War”. It has also been brought up on various websites I frequent. Well today I actually felt it. It is strange to be in one of the most dangerous places on Earth, yet still have the ability to drink a beer and share a laugh with some great dudes. This afternoon, we had a few brews and joked and played with some kids, just like a normal weekend back at home. It is eerily similar actually.

Well as we were driving back from the store, we tuned in to a station that was playing music you might hear on a canal in Italy. It was very nice. So there I was, sitting in the back seat, listening to the music and watching the rain drenched commotion of the streets while riding around the streets of Kabul. It was surreal and at the same time, very comforting.

It is hard to describe the feeling. When you are in Baghdad, you are on edge. Constantly feeling the pressure that at any moment some car might drive up next to you and explode. Same thing goes in Afghanistan, but not so much. The people look at you, but not with hatred. And you don’t feel the need to keep your eyes open all the time. I have a Nancy Ajram DVD which I play on the headrest TV player. I watch that a lot more than I watch outside.

The simple fact is that Kabul is very different from Baghdad and more similar to any major US city. There are beggars and there are the rich. There are nice shops and there are crappy shops. The streets are dirtier and the people all look different, but they are all doing the exact same things people do in the States. They just do it differently. The fact that there are donkey carts on major thoroughfares is 1 example.

Anyway, I am rambling.

So after that we went to Camp Eggers to visit the weekly Bazaar. It was pretty busy this week. I bought 5 new DVD releases for 9 bucks. Hopefully they all play. The problem with pirated movies and whatnot is that you never know the quality until you play it. It was the same way in Iraq. Sometimes you have a good image, sometimes there is some guy eating popcorn and you can’t even hear the sound. My favorite versions are the ones when people have to hide the camera.

So that is my news.


Thursday, April 03, 2008


Well, it is the start of a new weekend here. TGIT and all.

Yesterday I had a really great time playing Cricket with the guys. If you guys don’t like Cricket I strongly suggest that you try it. It is very fun. Much more fun than baseball. We play with a tennis ball rather the cork ball because we don’t have all the pads and whatnot. There is 1 guy who is an extremely fast bowler. He has hard to hit. Anyway, I know it looks stupid on TV but when you play it, it is fun.

The last time I did this did not go over so great. Well I just got back from performing a Class VI re-supply. So now I have a nice warm Tuborg to enjoy. While I was on my bay to the bottle shop, I got a little good information. The last time I was there, I noticed a very cute dog who was limping badly. Well this time, the same dog was still in the area and it was walking just fine. Maybe that is my omen for the week?

Yesterday, I was out looking for concertina wire and a cookbook. I also went to a light dealership to try to find some 1000Watt Metal Halide flood lights. I have to buy 450 of them. We are building a perimeter lighting system for a military base. These things cost like 300-500 each. I didn’t find them. Anyway, we were way on the other side of Kabul and I saw a scaled down replica of the Eiffel Tower. I swear, I had no clue it was there. We were in the middle of these huge blue buildings that are used for weddings and I was staring at them when all of sudden the Eifel Tower showed up! I did not have my camera but I will go back there and take some pictures.
Well, I haven’t got any new photos to post so I will dig up some old ones.
Oh yeah,

I am planning a vacation. Don’t know where to go this time. Any help?


Naaah That would be a cop out. Here are some pictures of my office:

My desk:

View from my window:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

सन्डे Post

For some reason, my titles appear in Indian I think. Not sure why. Oh well.

I have been having a great past few days. The work has been challenging but we are turning the corner. We have a few new projects including the construction of a new road. The weather is fantastic! Not too hot, not too cold. It rained a few days back, nothing major.

Well I have decided to stay put. I had some very tempting offers but I really like it here and have no real reason to leave. I may be sorry about the pay difference,
but money isn’t everything.

I am trying to find a cookbook for Western style food that is written in both English and Persian/Dari. Our cook does not speak or read English and it is very difficult to put a menu together and then teach him how to cook Western food. I sorted him out so that he can watch the cooks at the Whataburger. They have a Western menu that includes steaks, pastas, burgers, all that stuff. Well he goes and watches them and then he copies it at night for us. He has gotten much better. We were getting chicken and rice every single day, now we get burgers, fries, baked potatoes. I downloaded and had translated the menu for sloppy Joes; hopefully I will have sloppy Joe for lunch tomorrow.


Here are some pics.


Some hot chicks:

Some guys on the prowl. Hope they don't explode.

Somebody in an Armored Vehicle. Any moron can spot an armored car.

Buying some vests. Upper left hand corner.

About to meet Allah with Little Fat Man or whatever.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Well I just finished watching the movie Fitna.

This is a very difficult subject for me having spent so much time in the Muslim world. I have met some truly remarkable Muslims and fortunately I have not met any of the sorts shown in this film. That being said, I do recognize that they exist. And I am acutely aware that I am in a position where I could be much more personally affected by the rages of radical Islamists.

I am just going to stop there.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Some फोटोस Photos

Well it was a great long weekend. Not looking forward to starting a new week but oh well. Got my laundry done, still have to get it ironed.

Not much really to say. Today I visited an old Army buddy on Phoenix. Tried to get him to come visit at my place but his balls are 3 times too small. Understandably. Sort of.

Here are some older pics.


Houses on the hill:

More houses on the hill:

ROundabout monument:

Coming up on some animals:

Waiting on them to cross the street:

Some gas station:

Cool view of the hill houses: No roads, they just walk up there

The markets:

More of the markets:

And more:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

थे The Omen

There has been a lot that has happened the past few days.

I have gotten several job offers for jobs I don’t even remember applying. It seems that when you don’t really care to find a new position, they are all over, but when you really need or want a different contract, forget about it. So I don’t know what I will do. I really like it where I am and am not too keen on getting back in the mud.

Well the other day we got a new car with tinted windows. Tinted windows are illegal in Afghanistan without a proper license. PSDs and military can get away with it, but otherwise it is generally reserved for politicians. Well we were going to head out for some looking around for stuff. I always use the excuse of needing to go look at stuff to get out of the office. When I noticed the windows were tinted I made a joke and said we were going to end up in the jail in Pol E Sharki. They said we would be fine. Famous last words right? As we were entering a traffic circle, out of nowhere comes this traffic police pointing his AK at us. I have to admit it caught me off guard and startled me. Well he pulls us over and asks to see the permit for our AK, which we have, and the permit for the tint, which we don’t have. So there we are sitting on the side of the road and all these people are walking round us. Not a huge deal but after about 20 minutes, it starts to suck.

Well of course I tried to bribe the cop. Didn’t work. Then I asked why we don’t just leave the car and get a cab. They kept saying 5 more minutes. Well I finally got in touch with the Afghan Army Commander that works for us and he showed up. They were threatening to take the car and all this stuff. I said to take the bloody car. Well they worked it out and we got out of there.

That should have been an omen. I guess I am not so good at omens.

Yesterday I managed a resupply of Jim Beam is how the story starts and it just gets worse. I also managed to get us some more beer. The “us” in this case are my fellow American co-workers. W, T, J and F for short. After performing my Class VI re-supply I proceeded to issue the replenishments to my fellow coworkers. Then I left them for a few hours.

At around 2000 we decided it was time to start heading out for dinner. We decided to try a restaurant that we had previously not been to, a Mexican food restaurant called La Cantina. The reviews stated that the food was not that great but there were some hot chicks working at the bar and that large numbers of expat females frequented the place. A good enough reason alone to go there. Well as we were all gathering and proceeding to head out, T, decided it would great if we brought one of our local staff with us, F. After much protesting by F, T managed to talk him into coming with us.

Remember the omen? Well because there were now 5 of us, and because the big Toyota was out of the question, we decided to take a van. You know, like a minivan. Well we all piled in and it soon became apparent by the volume of speech by W and T, that maybe they had already started to imbibe. Heavily.

The restaurant is located down a few side streets 3 blocks from the main drag in a dark alley. We arrived, got out and told the driver to leave, that we would call him when we needed to be picked up. Me, T, and J entered the small security booth to be scanned and proceeded into the courtyard. (Only 3 can fit at a time). W and F, our local, then proceeded to enter. When they observed that F was a local, they refused to let him in. You see, in many restaurants that serve alcohol, locals are not allowed to enter. So we tried to bribe them but they were not having any of it. Not just a few bucks either, we had 100$ for the guy. He probably only makes 150$ in a month and yet he refused to accept our gift. F decided he would just leave and get a Taxi, after some protesting on our part we reluctantly agreed to let him leave. Well then we decided that it would be wrong to do that and decided to take him to another restaurant that we know allows locals. The problem was that by the time we made our decision, F had disappeared into the alley way in search of a cab.

Not to be deterred by the fact that the guy was gone, T decided to take his country ass out into the alley and start bellowing out for him to come back. Well he was about 2 blocks away before I could convince him that what he was doing was not a good thing to be doing at night, unarmed and on a back alley way in downtown Kabul. Finally he stopped hollering and we came back to the restaurant. We called F on the phone and told him to come back, that were going to take him somewhere else. And we called our van to come back and get us.

Here is where the omen really comes into play. The van showed up and into we all piled. Ready to head on over to Red Hots and do some drinking. The show was back on the road and we had a plan!

Literally about 3 seconds later, as the van began to rumble down the dirty road, the entire front right tire assembly… fell off! This is when the mistakes really started to begin getting made. The 2 heavily intoxicated guys were hell bent on getting F to the restaurant. They decided to get a cab. Now in all of this, I was sort of playing it quiet. Partly because I was not happy to be standing in a dark alley in Kabul without a gun, and partly because the rest of them were making so much noise that I could lurk back in the shadows, next to a door, leading to an open courtyard and a nice strong wall, so that when the bullets started raining down on them, I could bolt.

The decision was made to relocate to the main drag because our replacement driver did not know where we were. This consisted of walking about a mile and a half down these dark alley ways to get back to the main drag. Fortunately nothing happened despite T’s best attempts at waking up the entire city. It was now about 2130. Our curfew is 2200. Well finally our replacement vehicle finally arrived. A Toyota Hilux. You know the Hilux, it is the white pickup truck you always see insurgents fighting out of in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yeah, that one. Well, the drunks, W and T, decided they would ride in the bed of the truck. Keep in mind they both have gray hair, big fancy white shirts on and the exact opposite complexion as saaaay, an Afghani. Well I wasn’t going to fight with them to sit in the bed, I just jumped in the cab and let their dumb asses sit in the back.

That might not have actually been a good idea either. You see, Kabul, like many cities in the Middle East, comes alive after dark. (Not where we were initially, but downtown, on the main drag). And there are many sights and smells and lights and commotion. And somewhere between the restaurant and the main drag, W and T must have concluded that we had walked to Tijuana. There they were yelling and waving and saying hi to everyone. Shouting “wooooo!!!” to any large group of people. Fortunately most of those groups wooo’d back. I was waiting for the AK rounds to begin impacting my flesh and bones.

Well they didn’t. We made it safely to Red Hots which was about 5 clicks away, got loaded and had a great time, and then at around 2300 or so, we called our driver and he came and got us. This time they brought 2 cars, which I thought was a good omen.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Maybe leaving Afghanistan

Well I have been offered a rather tempting job in Iraq. I am about 99% sure that I will take it. I am still waiting to hear all the details about this new job but I will be starting out as a PSD Team Leader. It is a step back in terms of seniority, but the pay is much better and the opportunity for advancement is almost limitless. I also have great friends who work in this company. I haven’t carried a gun in a while, nor have I had to suit up, so I am looking forward to the opportunity. Plus, I really miss Iraq. Those who have not experienced Iraq may never know the unique attraction a place like Iraq holds. Yes it is a shithole, yes it is dangerous and yes many great Americans have died there. I do not mean to take away from the suffering felt by those affected by the violence in that country. What I am talking about is the acute awareness and enjoyment of life one feels when they have spent a considerable amount of time in Iraq. I am rambling. I will just stop there and post some pictures. Ok, just a bit more, Kabul is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Just today I met up with a dude I served with in Kentucky. I am going to sort him out Thursday. Ok rambling, I will pull it all together later. Basically I miss Iraq.


Some new construction:


Not sure what this is:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What an exhausting few weeks

So sorry for not uploading any new blog entries. I have been so busy with work.

Also, my AlienWare has been trying to die for about a month now, and it finally did. That thing is deader than a doornail. Good, that was one rabid dog that needed to die. Please, if you are reading this, Never buy an AlienWare computer! If you are even thinking about it, stab yourself, cause that is what you will want to do to yourself once you get the thing. Those things look great on paper and the specs are off the charts, but trust me. When something goes wrong, and it will, mine lasted about 8 hours before it started getting really crazy messages, when it goes wrong, that is the moment you will regret buying an Alienware for the rest of your soon to be miserable life. If you speak Spanish, you might be OK, but I still wouldn’t risk it. So tomorrow I will start the process of getting a replacement. I was thinking of a Dell XPS, but Dell owns AlienWare and I do not want to even risk it. I think I am going to buy something locally or fly to Dubai and buy one.

If all goes well I should be in Tajikistan next week for the New Years celebrations. I really hope I can get my Visa sorted. I am good to go on the Afghan side. I got a multiple entry Visa, good for 6 months, for about 400$. A little high, but they are hard to get. The problem was that I came in on Government Orders using my CAC, I never got an entry Visa. So when I quit that job and came to this one, I had to get a work permit. But it looked like I just smuggled myself into the country cause I had no entry stamp or entry permit. It is a good thing I work for a company owned by a prominent Afghan official or I might not have had the connections to get this done.

Well, I really do have limited time here, I am still at work using my work computer. 2 weeks ago my SimpleDrive 80 GB external drive failed. Live One killed that one. Well I waited and waited on getting a replacement, but about 3 days ago I said, you know, this POS AlienWare is going to die, and if I don’t back up my photos, I am going to lose them. Well thank God I wasn’t as lazy as I normally am. I went out and bought a 500GB Western Digital external and backed up all my stuff. (Only paid 200 bucks for it). So thankfully, I did not lose anything, it is all on my HDD. I would have been so pissed if I lost my pictures. I have lost some before. It is terrible. Now I don’t even erase memory sticks for my camera, I fill them with photos and keep them, and burn my stuff to disk all the time.

Anyway, here are some pics:


The cool hillside homes:

The shop I was going to:

I had to buy a Cell phone holder:

My favorite market area:

My awesome driver!


Safety 101:

Fish Market 1:

Fish Market 2:

Inside the Safi Landmark Hotel: