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: