Sunday, November 15, 2009

more on life here

As testament to how fast we adapt, I neglected to mention some parts of life here that might be, how shall I say, different than what I'm used to.

No mail. Well, that's not entirely true. No reliable mail. Don't see mailmen, post office vehicles, mailboxes.

Salespeople are men almost universally, even in women's shops. And they don't understand the concept of 'just looking.'

Kabul has a pollution problem - mostly dust/dirt in the air. It settles everywhere and gives the leaves a gray/green hue.

All the shops will take American dollars although in some it's best to have Afghanis. 100 Afs is about $2. Some things are really really cheap. A kite, for instance is about 20 cents, but then they don't last long. A tin of steak and kidney pie (my favorite) is over $5.

Ordering a vodka and tonic does not necessarily mean there will be vodka in the drink; you're better off ordering beer (Heinekin or Heinekin) or wine.

A 'sated aboringine' is not what you think. It was listed on a menu and I must admit I was tempted. However, it was the Afghan spelling for 'sauted aubergine' (eggplant).

Going to a tailor, for a woman, means taking something that fits and letting the man tailor take measurements from it rather than from you. If he measures you, the garment is liable to be big.

Muslims pray five times a day - one of the pillars (duties) of Islam: Just before sunrise, midday, midafternoon, just after sunset and at nightfall. The muezzins call the faithful to prayer, traditionally from a minaret, more commonly now through a loudspeaker. They are heard throughout Kabul.

Many Muslims pray wherever they happen to be at the time. Some at school have prayer rugs in their office and pray there. There are also prayer rooms in many public facilities and there is one at the University. I have been in a grocery story and seen someone kneeling in prayer behind a counter.

We have a wireless connection at the guesthouse and at school. It does not always work. But mostly.

I have not been able to find a bathtub plug.

The stove runs on a gas cylinder which is currently leaking so we turn it off when we're not heating something. Hopefully that will be fixed tomorrow.

The bathrooms are not designed for showers.

In place of the invocation, at the beginning of dedications and other formal get-togethers a man gets up to sing verses from the Holy Koran. It is quite beautiful. You don't clap when he finishes.

The 'safe' house in most of the guesthouses is the bathroom. The idea of multiple genders huddling in a room with a toilet and shower while waiting for rescue from attack is not a pleasant one.

Speaking loudly does not make English any more understandable for non-English speakers.

Afghans have beautiful hair.

Most women here do not care if their ensemble is color-coordinated.

Afghans generally don't like dogs, except for our neighbor who has a dog that barks most of the time.

I have not seen an obese Afghan.

I go to the bathroom before I leave for any ride, particularly into the City...just in case.

Pomegranates are wonderful.

Most cars are Toyotas.

The ATM machines don't always work.

Afghan police often won't let our vehicle take the shortcut through town which passes by the US embassy and United Nations. Our guys shout at them. It doesn't help.

We haven't had an accident - yet.

The guns are real.


  1. thanks for filling us in on the day to day stuff.....very interesting.