Cold calling

Some of my team have gone on a little trip, to a place outside our usual area of operations. They are travelling incognito. It’s made me paranoid about answering my phone.

A place, incidentally, considered too dangerous for me to go to but ‘alright’ for them. Without going into the inequalities of this, I offer up a small example of why working in Afghanistan is such a joy.

Before leaving, they replaced the SIM cards in their phones. Being caught with the telephone numbers of foreigners can be bad for your health, so they put in new cards. Still, they have to stay in touch and let me know they are still alive, so I worry my number will be on their phone somewhere.

Were they to be stopped on the road by someone who perhaps doesn’t see foreign NGOs as paragons of virtue come to rescue this poor country, it would not be unheard of for said person to have a look-see through their phone and dial a few numbers to find out who they are.

Names don’t show up on my phone so I never know who is calling. So, I get a call from a number I don’t recognise and imagine my colleagues being held up in a spot of trouble with some naughty man dialling my number for a quick chat in Pashto, thereby pretty quickly informing the naughty man that I ain’t from around here. Which would, as I said, be rather bad for the health of my colleagues.

I haven’t been answering my phone this week. Oh what a lovely place to work, and what wonderful work it is when you don’t want to talk for fear you’ll get someone killed. Makes you feel all warm inside.


Hamdillah, they’re back safely.


6 Responses to “Cold calling”

  1. Marianne Says:

    Will you let us know when they get back safely? I’ll be thinking of them.

  2. PeterT Says:

    By my reading of that last sentence, they were actually back already by the time this was published. I guess maybe that was written a little later than the rest of the article?

  3. harryrud Says:

    Yep, they’re back. And didn’t get stopped by any naughty men, unless you count the US army.

  4. Michael Kleinman Says:


    Apologies for the slow response — great post, and so glad to hear that everything turned out well,


  5. Novia M Says:

    Great blog!! Stay safe.

  6. harryrud Says:

    Cheers Novia.

    MBK: don’t worry, there’s not a deadline you have to reply by. You are of course obliged to read it, but there’s nothing in the contract about prompt responses. Just positive ones. Ta.

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