Afghanistan Diary
Sunday, April 17, 2005
  Just another week-end

Nothing much to report: last week-end was rather sober by the last few weeks’ standard. Thursday night we had dinner at the Iranian restaurant and we smoked shisha at the DACAAR staff house with our afghan colleagues. On Friday, I went to a Hash. The first part of the walk was painful due to the unbearable stench of open sewers (a common thing in Kabul), but the second consisted of a nice, though strenuous, hike to the top of a hill. After that, we had the usual hash circle. I was “baptized,” that is to say I received my hash name, but I won’t share it here. Later, I had a few drinks with some guys at a guesthouse, followed by dinner at the “dumpling house” (cute waitress, ok food). There we had a heated discussion about monarchy. Having grown up in a constitutional monarchy myself, I personally developed a rather complex and nuanced opinion on the matter (behead ‘em).

I haven’t decided what to do with the hash. It is really good for me socially (it is nice to meet new people) and physically (I am out of shape here). However, it also strikes me as so culturally insensitive at times that I don’t know that I want to have any part in it. For instance, Friday’s hike passed through a cemetery. There was a path there, but really cemeteries are a place to honor and mourn the dead, not to do recreational sightseeing. In addition, the hash circle took place in the garden. It is surrounded by tall walls but neighbors can still see and hear from the second floor windows, and I am just not comfortable with singing drinking songs in that context. It is not like people don’t drink here. In fact, I have yet to meet an Afghan who does not drink when given the opportunity, and that includes people who pray five times a day, but that does not mean that drinking takes place in the open. The philosophy here seems to be that whatever takes place inside someone’s home is nobody’s business. My instinct is to leave the hash, but I supposed a more mature attitude would be to discuss my concerns with the group. We’ll see.

Babak, my friend and partner in crime, is leaving today although he will be back in June. His departure will leave a gap here; he is a fun guy to be around.

Some news on the work front: lately, work has been rather dull. I am waiting for the management to release the funds necessary for a well-needed system upgrade I have been looking forward to. In the meantime, I am stuck with designing Access applications, which is hardly challenging (there is not much to Access, really). Such is the nature of computer work, for each interesting project, you get five boring ones. I am waiting for a meaty project, but I get tedious ones instead. However, I have been thinking of a way to streamline a terribly cumbersome process that plagues the Water Supply Unit, using pocket PCs hocked up to GPSes. It is not terribly likely that management would go for it, given the financial mess DACAAR is currently in, but I will make a pitch anyway. I would really like to do that. It would give me a change to learn news skills (.Net, designing PowerPC apps, toying with GIS even) and most of all it would be real fun and it is guaranteed to simplify the work of a number of people. In fact, I have been so excited about it, I have started to learn .Net already. I got Visual Studio .Net Enterprise Edition and a CD full of electronic books for a few bucks at a local store.

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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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