Afghanistan Diary
Thursday, May 26, 2005
  Internationals in Kabul are getting scared.

Internationals in Kabul are getting scared. The number of “incidents” in the country is on the rise and even in Kabul, there was something that looked like an attempted hijacking in broad daylight yesterday (that was only narrowly averted). But mostly, it was the recent abduction of the Italian girl (whom many people knew) that affects people the most. Even those who are usually the most lax about safety seem to apply security recommendations with zeal. As my flatmate noted, the very fact that we have curfew reinforces the impression that we live in a dangerous place (“Six thirty already? I’d better head back quickly or else …) whereas the situation may not be more or less dangerous than it was a month ago. There are rumors of possible demonstrations on Friday, and several agencies are on complete lockdown (not DACAAR).

I have slowly started the process of preparing myself to leave Kabul, and I know the day of my departure will come really quickly. In objective terms, my job sucked, my salary was laughable and thanks to curfews and lockdowns, there is not much left of my social life at this point. Yet, that hardly depicts how I feel about this place. I will in fact miss it dearly and digesting memories and insights gained in my journey will take me some time.

I regret I don’t have much more to say about Kabul at the moment. Curfews are not very conducive to exploring the place.

One of the reasons I took this job was to give me the opportunity of changing my professional life. I had a very hard time making a living while being a graduate student, and I became a programmer because I needed a job, it was a happening field (the Internet!), and having been a computer kid when I was 14, I had some facilities with computers (Ah, everybody taught it was a waste of time back then...). Also, I was never successful in finding a job, or a scholarship in the field I studied (social anthropology). So basically, even though I liked the whole computer-internet field and was fairly successful at it, I felt that I never choose my career.

I took the job at DACAAR in the hope that working for a NGO would be more meaningful, that I would get to experience another culture and perhaps even, it would give me an entry to the whole world of development where I might work in any capacity (not just computer related) if I so decided. The experience is mixed. The job wasn’t more meaningful. I liked to be in Afghanistan and to know different people, but expatriate life did not totally meet my expectations either. I hope however that I will have some opportunity to work with others NGOs in the future. I think I am in the right field after all, and that it would be even slightly difficult for me to do something else (I have less than average social skills). The thing is that, if I am to be a geek, I want to be the best geek I can be. Boring, tedious, repetitive work will always be my nemesis (the same apply to everybody, I am sure). I will try to get more challenging work by setting up my own projects, finding the perfect work environment, or by doing shorter term contract work and frequently changing so as vary the skills I use.

Hey Lev
Why do you want to work in development? I'm curious about what that means to you.
Are you still looking for greater meaning in your work? Instead of limiting yourself or putting all these expectations on a job, shouldn't you be looking for meaning in your life, rather than just your work?
Hmmm... just a random thought but would be curious to hear your response.
By the way, have a good weekend, take care and stay safe.
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I always equated working in development with doing work that affects people’s lives, being challenged by others cultures, opening oneself to others realities, changing the world (if only in very modest ways), etc.

I guess I am clueless as to how one goes about finding meaning in one’s life. I suppose for many having kids is a way to do that, but I decided not to have a family for a number of reasons. I am also atheist, so spirituality is of no comfort to me. The only way I can think of giving meaning to one’s life (perhaps this is a male perspective) is by producing something, or doing something that makes you take part in the forces that shape the world. If you omit the very occasional demonstration, or the token political act, I am not doing any of that, hence my life strikes me as totally meaningless. That does not mean that it is a painful agony necessarily, I tried to make it as pleasant (or when that fails, as interesting) as possible.
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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
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