Thursday, February 07, 2013

Musings on a cold Juma morning in Kabul

A bright sunny morning in Kabul. It’s one of those winter days I love; clear, chilly, glistening snow everywhere, making the place so magical. The conference room I’m sititng in is cold, I could put some logs in the bukhari, the wood burning stove, but the sun beaming through the two large windows is enough warmth, plus I have my patou, a large brown wool wrap that keeps me sufficiently warm. It has been ages since I’ve written here, but today seems like a good time to sit down and write my thoughts instead of worry about work. It is Juma, Friday, and all of Kabul is quiet. The one day off in the week when people can sleep in, rest, and enjoy time with their families. The office is quiet, not students clamoring for my attention, no colleagues, just me and my thoughts. I’ve been running workshops for our alumni this past week and tomorrow I begin another week of workshops for another group. I focus on three: English teacher training, Essay Writing and Research, and Project Design. Important topics for these budding leaders. I am totally loving it and so are they. Since they have off from school until March, might as well keep them busy. As I sit here looking out on my sunny day, my base, Brooklyn, is getting ready for a snow storm. It will be almost spring when I get back there—mid-March. I’ve been away so long. I enjoy my work but I do miss home, and I miss my cat Lulu, as I know she misses me. I’ve been made full-time with my job and who knows how much time I will be away from New York this year—quite a lot I believe. I’ll have to figure out something with my apartment and cat and garden when I get back. Hire a live-in super or something. Afghanistan is still in the throes of insecurity and fear of a post-2014 world, but I see many signs of hope and normal life around Kabul. The first day I was here there was a bomb blast at the Kabul equivalent of the DMV. We have a running joke in the office, whenever I come to Kabul, they meet me with a big salute, because there always seems to be a bomb blast. Not very funny but that’s the humor of the people who live through this every day, and have lived through much more. The pace of Afghanistan is so different form everywhere else, almost outer world that when you get here you get sucked into it and your over-worked, driven American work ethic just floats away and suddenly deadlines and emails demanding immediate responses seem to not exist. Life here is so invasive that it’s difficult to get anything done in a reasonable amount of time. For example I had a proposal to look over and respond to the other day, but then one of my students’ father came to the office and invited me to dinner. Culturally, it is too rude to not receive the person, plus he is one of my favorite people here, so proposal got to sit on my desk for another day. It is a big plus and also a hindrance to advancing, but cultural values are important and need to be taken into account. This country will change, it will develop but at its own pace. The young people I work with will make that change, inshallah. I already see it little by little and as long as they have the courage and drive to do their part, this is going to be a fabulous place to be. Ok need to go get ready for my day out. I’m not sitting in the office on such a glorious day. One of my former students has invited me to his social entrepreneurship class and to lunch with his family. Afterwhich I have more people to meet and places to go. Looking forward to getting out of my “prison” and enjoy a day off for a change.

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