Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Afghanistan Chronicles: September 5th 2013, Day 1

September in Afghanistan. Day 1 It has been a little over 6 months since I’ve been here and it’s good to be back. Despite the crumbling security situation and instability everywhere in the country that people are reporting, I needed to come. Coming in for a landing and seeing all the mountains warms my heart, makes me feel in a way that I am coming back to some place that is familiar and welcoming, not unsafe and dangerous. Coming out of the airport after getting my baggage, the warm Kabul air embraces me like an old friend. The shuttle bus driver tries to get me on his bus to drive me the small distance to where the throngs of people await family members, friends and colleagues but I prefer to walk past the old airport terminal and across the parking lots, as I usually do. I’m excited to be back and want to take these few minutes to walk alone taking in the mountains, the other passengers pushing their carts, the music coming out of some cars. I have no fear of this place for it has become like home with colleagues and students who await me like family once I get through the security gate. Wadood, our driver, is there to great me with a big hug and a handshake. He’s looking very dapper in his new green parantumbar with a black pinstripe vest. I complement him in my broken Dari on his outfit and he thanks me. This man has seen so much in his life, from the Russians, the Taliban, and now the Americans, and still has his sense of humor intact. We make jokes in the car and laugh our way through the traffic jams that slow our way back to the office. He tells me of the 6 new kittens in the office. Apparently one of the cats that hangs around the office had kittens and now they have become part of the office, with everyone pitching in money to feed them. On our way, we stop at the Finest supermarket and I pick up some breakfast supplies and some Whiskas cat food for the kittens. Of course a trip to Finest with Wadood wouldn’t be complete without a Red Bull or two for him. He has two wives and always jokes with me that he needs two Red Bulls so he can please both of them when he goes home on Thursday. I come laden with chocolate I bought in Duty-Free for his children and family. He appreciates the gesture. Eventhough I have traveled a long way here, stopping in Delhi for a night, I am not tired. It is good to see everyone at the office and sit on the takhta under the arbor of grapes, drinking tea and catching up on the latest news. As we sip our tea, the kittens run around the big divan in the yard, awaiting something to eat. I go up and get the can of cat food and put it out on a plate for them. Within minutes they are swarming the plate, devouring as much as they can as if it is a race to eat the most. First there are three, then four. The fifth one, the largest of all, comes running from the back at lightning speed and plops himself almost right smack in the middle of the food, gobbling as much as he can. The sixth one races after him and soon they are all happily having a splendid dinner, equally getting their fill. There are three orange cats and three white and greys. How I would love to take one of the orange ones home but somehow dragging a kitten through India, Switzerland, France and Germany doesn’t sound appealing at all. They are adorable though and while tempting, impossible. Today I am up early with the meuzzin’s call to prayer, one of my favorite sounds here in Kabul. I have to interview potential candidates for my winter YSEL camp beginning at 9 so need to be ready to listen attentively to students all day. They’ve scheduled 26 for me, which is a lot, but somehow we’ll manage. I just hope I don’t start falling asleep! I hope to be up early everyday and able to chronicle my days here in Afghanistan for the next three weeks. There may not be tons to report but I will try to give my readers something to enjoy.

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