Afghanistan Diary
Sunday, May 29, 2005
  Can’t decide
I am not sure what I am going to do. Today, I am leaning toward staying. Leaving is always easier (for me at least). I do feel far less enthusiasm about remaining in Afghanistan than I feel about going backpacking. I can only stay if it does not jeopardize my visa status and my nationalization prospects. It may be alright providing I go back to the States this summer, but I am not sure. I do feel some sense of obligation, commitment, etc. toward DACAAR, but this is the wrong way to think about it. The real questions are: Can I achieve anything here professionally and otherwise (my navigation system)? Am I useful here? Can I turn things around at work so that my work becomes more interesting?

I am not sure. The prospects are not great but I haven’t exhausted all possible efforts to shift things around. On Monday night (11 ½ time difference), I will try to call my immigration attorney for advice.

I may feel better about myself if I stay (I don’t like feeling like a quitter) if I can do good work, but will I enjoy myself? Is anything interesting going to happen in Kabul in the next 8 months? Friends will come and go. I may get some interesting work on the side with my nav. System and all. If I really work at it, I could maybe get some interesting C# and GIS experience, though the bulk of my work will be tedious, I should not kid myself about it. As far as discovering the country is concerned, I may get to know some of my Afghan colleagues better but it is likely that my mobility will remain quite limited for a while. Remaining here could give me enough time to write a grant that, if successful, would allow me to do some interesting work, once I come back to the US. I need to think about all this.

There were no demonstrations in Kabul today, but there were many in Pakistan. I hope Lyn is alright, she is in Islamabad where several demonstrations and a bomb explosion took place. I advised her many time to check for demonstrations, but I don’t think she took me seriously because Islamabad has the reputation to be a quite city where nothing happens (I told you so…).

I went to the Bazaar with Giovanni today. We passed street portrait photographers having a primitive camera that looks one hundred years old, beggars with an uneven number of limbs, car engines mounted on a decorated street carts to press sugarcane, even burkas in bright colors (Oh so vain!). I did not find what I was looking for (a shaver), but I had a good time.

We ate some kebabs on the way back. I do not know if I already mentioned this, but in Afghanistan, restaurants are divided in a main section destined to men that has view on the outside, and a family section, protected by a curtain or a door, where families or women with children eat. You might ask “where to single women sit?” The obvious answer is that you don’t really see any. In many traditional Afghan establishments, there is a mixture of tables with chairs, and areas where you sit on the floor.

 
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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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