Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kabul, Afghanistan. The beginning of a beautiful relationship.

You know that feeling you get when you know that you made a good decision? When you are faced with tough choices and many different possibilities and you narrow it down and make the call? Well I made a tough decision and it turned out to be one of the best I have made in a while. I quit a pretty good job in Bagram for a generally unknown commodity in Kabul. I made a pretty dangerous choice to leave the airfield by basically sneaking out and hopping into a car with 2 Afghanis previously unknown to me, 1 of whom was armed, and making the drive thru the mountains South to Kabul.

When I got to Kabul it reminded me so much of Baghdad. The streets are crowded, there are shops literally everywhere and cars and bikes and every other conveyance known to man lining the streets. The biggest difference was that I was in an unarmored car, with 2 strangers and no guns. It was not fun.

But, I made it. We got to the villa compound where I live now and I got settled in. Basically it is a 3 villa complex located near the US and Saudi embassies. It is in a high profile area and we have 3 different villas. I live in 1 of them with another expat, and the other 2 expats live in another. The 3rd villa is the HQ. I will post some pictures showing how nice all of this is.

There are 4 Americans working for this company now with 2 more on the way. The staff consists of about 100 Afghanis. We have 2, for the lack of a better description, cabin boys, who take care of everything from getting me a hookah to filling the fridge and washing the bathroom. For those of you who have not had the privilege, yes privilege, of living in a third world country, you may not understand all the benefits. I can ask my driver to take me anywhere I want, he will notify my guard and they will pull the car around. Then they will drive you anywhere you want to go and help you get whatever it is you need to get. For example, and these 2 things may be related, I finished the last of a bottle of Jim Beam as well as a very nice cherry hookah. Well I decided to leave the hookah outside. Bad move cause I didn’t dump the water and so the vase froze and burst. Well today we went to the Italian shop to resupply on the Beam and then we stopped at a local store and got me another hookah.

On that note, anyone reading this that happens to be in Afghanistan be warned. Those local bazaars that they have set up near military bases each week are a total rip off. Probably the only reasonably priced items are the DVDs and even those you can get cheaper on the economy. I know the military don’t have the option of grabbing a car and tooling around looking for deals, but seriously, whatever they are asking, offer them 25% of that, if they won’t take it, keep walking away until they do. That or slip a local some dough, ask them to buy the stuff, and escort them onto the base personally the next time they come.

Well I knew I made the right decision the moment I walked into the villa. The guys were having lunch and the centerpiece of the table was a half empty bottle of Bacardi 151. Those who know me well enough know how happy I was to see that. So we ate spicy Afghani burgers with rice and some pea soup and uhhh sipped on the Bacardi. Later that evening they broke out the good stuff, Heineken.

I also learned exactly what they wanted me for. You see when I applied, there were no posted jobs, and I just mailed a resume blind. When they sent me an email saying they were interested, they had already contacted my references (Special thanks go out to that guy. He knows who he is and knows that if I could ever return the favor I would go out of my way to do so. Nuff said.) When I looked at their website all I saw were jobs for electricians, architects, engineers, drafters, and a bunch of other crap I have no idea how to do. Well they hired me as a Project Manager. I told them I had no experience with that and they hired me anyway, which is why I was so suspicious when they made me the offer they made me. Well it turns out that they want me for “Procurement”. Those who know me best are probably grinning right now. If there is anything on this Earth that I can do well and under any circumstances, it is procuring shit. Also, they laughed and said I better not get too comfortable because I would have to travel to, get this, DUBAI and Istanbul “All the time”. “Oh heavens no! Anything but that!”. LMFAO. I love that shit.

Anyway, I hooked up a wireless repeater today so now I have pretty decent internet. Please do check back often as I plan to start at least a weekly review of local restaurants and shops. I haven’t decided if I will put street maps or not cause I may want the good stuff kept secret. Also in the works is a live Kabul web cam. I just have to look into the security aspect of that. I am thinking of climbing the building across the street next to where the Taliban, yes actual Taliban members of congress, live and putting it remotely looking down a main street. Right now it is just in the planning phases. If anyone knows of a good, remote operated, day/night, cheap web cam that can transmit up to 100 meters, email me. I also need instructions on how to integrate said web cam into blogger.com.

Well, let me sign on and post this stuff, hopefully I will have enough bandwidth to actually upload what I had hoped would be the centerpiece of my blog, some photos. Oh yeah, I will not try to go back and post photos. That is impossible and pointless at this point. What I will do is when I start rambling like this again is try to add them at that time.

I am definitely in my element right now. I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Check out some photos below>>>

Cheers,
Walt

This is where I used to live in Bagram:

This is where I live now: Much better.

Hopefully this video will load. It is huge for me, 41M, maybe you will have a quicker download than I had upload:( This is from my trip from Bagram to Kabul:

Nope, better luck next time. Later.

5 Comments:

Blogger James said...

Glad to hear you found something that might hold your attention for a few weeks! Anxious to see more pics of the villa and its compound...J

Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 12:15:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Rex Zeitgeist said...

Damn dude, looks like things are turning.....much better digs then your last place....

And Jim Beam and a hooka to boot.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 2:36:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Stirinthepot said...

Very cool Walt. As a married man, I admire your ability to just up and move to another part of the world.

As my father use to say, "Get it while you can!"

Don't get blown up or shot and don't let that JACKASS fuck with you!

Later

Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 3:02:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Walt said...

Thanks guys. I am very happy here. I am tooling all over Kabul today and next week I may be in Pakistan trying to find some metal doors.

If anyone has 70 metal barrack style doors, email me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 7:36:00 AM GMT+3  
Blogger Rex Zeitgeist said...

Damn < i just had 70 metal doors the other day and I gave them to Goodwill to clear out the garage......

Oh well, next time.

Monday, January 28, 2008 at 5:04:00 AM GMT+3  

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