Afghanistan Diary
Thursday, February 17, 2005
  Just another evening, another week

Thursday night is the big night out (since almost everybody has Friday off) and we went to an Iranian restaurant tonight. I like it because in addition to having very good food, it also is the only establishment I know in Kabul that actually looks like a restaurant. This is not to say that others places are not be nice, posh even, but there is always something broken, an ad hoc lighting system in the restroom, a flakey generator, or some other detail to remind you that you are in makeshift restaurant somewhere in the third-world.

When we got there, we immediately noticed a few men in uniform standing at the entrance, as well as a herd of black Benz parked in front of the restaurant. We took that as a cue that something official was going on, and indeed we caught a glimpse of the Agriculture minister who was leaving the premises.

On this occasion, we primarily came to the restaurant to drink tea and smoke shisha (waterpipe). I did not smoke though because I kicked that habit over a year ago and do not want to start again. The group consisted of three expats (including your narrator), two afghans, and a Pakistani couple. The later were especially interesting. Obviously they were part of an educated elite. The man talked much about politics. His younger girlfriend was more into piercing and having fun. Body piercing is not something one typically associates with Pakistan, and I found myself wishing that “she” would be more different from “us”, which I have absolutely no right to do since naturally “she” has the right to be just as [fill the blanks] as “we” are. When traveling, you often encounter elites who see Westernization as a salvation from their own society, which they consider oppressive. Since you travel in part because you are looking for something your own society does not provide, this kind of encounters are destined to be disappointing.

I hadn’t had dinner so, I ate, and it was rather uncomfortable to eat in front of some people (such as my 21 year old boss) who probably couldn’t afford a meal there. To make things worse, I suffered from a fine but persistent hand tremor that made it a real challenge for me to bring food from my plate to my month without spilling it all over.

On the way back we heard of a party organized by an Italian NGO and we decided to check it out. It was your typically NGO party. The building itself was located in a back street accessible from a dirt road. There were 150 people or so, virtually all Whites (expect for 2-3 Asians, 2 Blacks, an Iranian and a Jew). The only Afghan present were the chawkidar (guard) and two drivers. Almost everybody was smoking (usually tobacco), which made the air inside almost unbreathable. I had the opportunity to put my (naturally deficient) social skills to the test. In fact, I had some nice chats with a few people, danced a little and I also helped myself generously to the bar. Overall a good night out.

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

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Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
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