Afghanistan Diary
Saturday, July 30, 2005
I took this blog offline for a while because I inadvertently emailed the link to somebody to whom it was not intended.

I have been back in New Mexico for almost ten days now. Things are not going too badly. I reconcilled with Ilene and I live at her house. Things are going well. We went camping for a few days, then we headed for Pegosa Springs in Colorado. Only slightly difficult part is that we currently only have one car and she works at night, but I will get a car soon. In fact, I will buy her car and she will buy a new car. The dogs were thrilled to see me.

Workwise, it looks like it will be easier to get a job locally than I imagined. I have been offered a nice, well-paying job the day after my return, however, I am still waiting for the background investigation to be completed. Since I am a little nervous it might fail, I am still interviewing for others positions. I have at least three interviews next week (I have had three interviews so far). Joblessness does not suit me, I find. All the time I was in Kabul, it seemed like I couldn't managed to get stressed enough. Nowadays, I am stressed. I dislike situations where there is nothing you can do but wait. I spend a fair amount of my time brushing on my computer skills (Java, PL/SQL) in preparation for my interviews.

It feels a little strange to be back, but overall it is easy. I just feel a little out of sink with the world surrounding me sometimes.

Oh, just one more things. I had the pleasure to have lunch with my former collleagues yesterday. They told me about another blogg that talks about me and teased me about my drug habits. I was a little surprised. I understand now, the blog must be Babak's who talks about the Hash House Harriers. However, the HHH is a "drinking society with a running problem" as they like to call it (there is one in Albuquerque as well) and despite its name it has absolutely nothing to do with cannabis, it is just a group of folks who go hicking or running and drink beers afterwards.

I may continued this blog (if so, I should probably change its name) although, not being in Kabul, I may not have that many interesting things to say in it.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
  Dubai continued
In the afternoon, I went to the city museum, the covered bazaar and to Dubai creek. None of them struck me as especially worthwhile. Still, I had good Indian food, and smoking a sheesha while watching the boats was rather nice. Weather is approaching 40c, and it is hot and sticky.

Looks like I may have a chance to do some contract work when I get home. One of the opportunities has to do with Java programming. I am very tempted in so far as I really want to become a proficient Java programmer, on the other hand, my experience with Java is so small as to be insignificant. Still, I know the theory (I have been studying Java for a long time) and I know some C# which is Java under a different name (and a different API). Maybe it is the time to jump?

I did buy myself a summer suit for my job hunting. Some people I know will make fun of me because of its color (very light yellow), but I don't care. I just hope I don't look like a televangelist in it (for some reason they always wear impeccable suits in funky colors).
I arrived in Dubai last night. Going from the airport to the city in an air-conditionned car (our Kabul car had no AC), driving in an orderly manner, passing these large empty avenues, not smelling or hearing much felt really strange and actually rather sad. The big stores with neon signs everywhere made made the place looks like a muslim version of America. I am getting a sense that it will take me a little while to readapt.

I don't have a guide so I wasn't sure what to do in Dubai (there is not that much to do at any rate). I took a taxi to a computer tower to check out the price of Pocket PCs, but it did not strike me as cheaper than in the US. I did see very cheap brand name suits on the other hand, and I might let myself buy one.

This afternoon, I will try to visit the old covered bazaar. My flight takes off early in the morning (1:45) so I have many hours to kill. Physically, I am feeling ok but my right hand shakes like crazy.
  Last ... in Kabul
During my last days in Kabul, I discovered a few places of interest. The first was the UNICA, UN's guest house. It is possible to get a membership there and they have nice sport facilities and a bar. More importantly, they have a swimming pool, used by a number of young women, which makes the UNICA the best chick gazing place in Kabul.

The other place was teh Copa Cubana, a club located near my favorite restaurant in Kabul, Shandiz. The area is pretty safe, although it must be said that there was a rocket attack in the viccinity last week or so. We were not quite sure what to expect. I was vaguely hoping for a cuban estaurant with a dance floor and tasteful latin music. Actually there was nothing cuban about the place, and the music (hip hop) was no exception. The place was run by Afghan Americans, allthough the bouncer looked more like a buff gay italian. The Copa Cubana defintely features on my list of places where to go at least once. It was an actual club, with smoke, bar, stroboscopic lights and people dancing in sleevless shirts. It was just so strange to see that in Kabul.

Driving through the city at night, it is difficult not to be stuck by the unmber of brothels that have sprung through the city. They operate quite openly with lights (think Christmas lights) all over the facades and a sign such as "Silk Road." Not even "silk Road Restaurant," just "silk Road." Given that most of these signs are in English, I imagine that the clientele is made off the many male contractors and soldiers stationned here.

Another place I visited recently, that has a great view of Kabul is TV hill, so called because around there are all the broadcasting antennas for the city. The area is still partly mined, so don't go off the beaten path and watch your steps.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
  Last day at work
Today is my last day at work. I am in a very pissy mood and I do little to hide it. One reason for this is that my boss had set a deadline last week for everyone to submit to me a list of amends to make to my softwares. What did I not receive yesterday afternoon and late this morning? A list of amends, one week late, 24 h before I leave. I could have strangled the guy, although, thinking about it, I might have derived more pleasure in repeatedly bashing his head against the monitor. I mulled over both possibilities at length. To make things worse, my boss sided with the person submitting the list 24h late and she accused me to spend all my time working on Pocket PCs. That really pissed me off, because I worked on that project almost exclusively during evenings and week-ends. It is bad enough that I never got the least support from management to do that kind of things (not that I expect kudos, but some acknowledgement would be nice), but now I am actually getting penalized for it. I gave her a piece of my mind in an email (she is out of town) and haven't heard from her since, which is probably not a good thing.

At the end of the day, I realize that I feel very unsupported and unappreciated at work and I know that I am not the only person to have such feelings. It is hard to work in these conditions.

I leave DACAAR in very good terms with my peers, my immediate supervisor and with the water supply unit (the folks with whom I have been working with my gps). With my actual boss, things are a little more tense.

Today there was a festive lunch organized to mark the fact it was a colleage's last day and mine. However scripted these occassions are, it was really nice of them to do so. They also gave me a turban as a present, which no doubt, will make quite an impression in Albuquerque. :) What is even nicer is that they organized a little shisha party tonight.

Leendert, the manager of the water supply unit has ask if he could buy my toys. I sold him the whole setup: pocket pc, gps, bluetooth adaptor, software, etc. Equipment can be hard to find here and in this way, he is sure that everything is setup and working.

Tomorrow, I am off to Dubai, then a long ride to New Mexico. I have a job interview when I arrive, then I'll go on a little camping trip. I did not get the job I interviewed for at the University, btw.

This is my diary. My name is Lev and I work in Kabul for a non-governmental organization (

Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 /

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