Archive for September, 2009


September 21, 2009

Eid mubarak and peace be upon you for the international day of peace.

Peace day? God but the UN are a bunch of hippies.

I guess blogging will continue here but probably not so often, at least for a while, so don’t hold you breath.

Becoming an ex-expat

September 14, 2009

The transition from expat to ex-expat is not easy. This is supposed to be a moderately civilized country I’ve moved to but it’s seemed far from it in my first week back.

Getting off the plane I looked high and low for someone I could pay a pittance to pick up my bags, but no one was to be found. I had to push the trolley myself, huffing and puffing with indignity.

Once through customs I tried calling my driver. His phone wasn’t working. After several more futile attempts I was about to call the head of logistics to complain when I realised I no longer had a driver and he was several thousand miles away anyway. Instead, I was forced to rough it with the mob and get the bus.

Back home, I dumped my dirty clothes in a corner. Two days later and they were still there! I couldn’t for the life of me think what the cleaner was playing at, but she seemed to have disappeared.

I shipped a few things home. In Kabul I’d given them to the logistics chap and got him to sort it out. He never told me I’d have to wait at home for them to be delivered. The first day the package was due I assumed the guard would take care of it. Seems he’s run off with the cleaner. I only found out when a friend spent half an hour knocking on the door. I finally went to see what was going on, and was told (by my strangely annoyed friend) I no longer had a guard. This has proved continually troublesome as I obviously can’t be expected to take my door keys with me everywhere I go.

Letters from the bank have been piling up. I emailed the finance department asking if they could spare a few hours to go through them all and got a most curt reply. They had the insolence to suggest I do it myself! When I did go down to the bank and the manager treated me like some poor beggar I was simply incandescent with rage.

Taking the dog for a walk one afternoon and I was getting a little parched. There was a farm house down the track so I thought I’d just drop by but was given a most unfriendly welcome. Downright hostile in fact. When I told them that if they weren’t even going to slaughter a sheep for me the least they could do would be to make me a cup of tea the farmer pulled out a shotgun. I was aghast and told them in no uncertain terms (while running away) that I thought their behaviour deeply at odds with the culture of hospitality I had come to expect of their kinsmen.

I had to console myself after that with a glass or two in the village inn. Naturally I didn’t have any of the local currency with me, but I really didn’t expect them to make such a fuss about it. I admit things got slightly out of hand but there was no need to call the police. I tried explaining to the officer that everything was perfectly all right as I wasn’t a Muslim and so of course I was allowed to have a drink, but the law was simply insufferable.

Dragged off to the police station I finally got to make a phone call, but all the bloody embassy did to get me out of my plight was to laugh at me.

By the time I extricated myself from that little mess I felt rather washed up, so I’m now planning my next R and R. Somewhere with servants and corrupt police, I think.

Hell’s teeth

September 5, 2009

Zibahkhana, or Hell’s Ground in English: Pakistan’s first gore flick, with possibly the best advertising posters ever.



Night letter clip art and other snippets

September 2, 2009

A lot of effort goes into night letters. Not only do you have to find and watch your target for long enough to know what they are up to (and thus what they should be warned off doing), but the design of the letter itself takes a deal of care and consideration. Look at the top of the one below, for example. Now that’s some fancy clip art. Plus, they went to the effort of printing it out in colour, no easy task in the wilds of Afghanistan. Aesthetics are important when threatening to kill someone.

Night letter clip art

In my honour (I assume), a soundtrack to my forthcoming departure and return home.

There was a huge storm a few nights ago. After going for a midnight swim in Jalalabad, I was kipping on the roof watching it role in, the sky blazing with lightning. Just as I was nodding off, wind and rain came lashing down in torrential torrents. After a little strobe-lit dance I was soaked to the skin and forced inside, where a frog came and slept on me.

While I’m away I’m handing over all saving-Afghanistan-through-blogging duties to the charming Captain Cat and her legion of sub-tribes. Cap’n Cat (in Afghanistan one assumes a soldiery sort of Captain, but I always prefer the more piratical kind) throws babies down karezes in Gardez and stuffs ballot boxes on behalf of the IEC.

Now back to writing my epic hand-over notes.