Saturday, July 24, 2004

Friend in Afghanistan

A very good friend from college just received her Masters' from Columbia in international relations and her first stop? Kabul, Afghanistan. Here is her take so far:
At long last I have arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan. If I hadn’t told you about it before, apologies as my life has been a whirlwind these past few months.

My departure to Kabul began the day I left LA for Frankfurt. While dining in the international terminal at LAX, a voice came over the intercom announcing to please return the missing security badge as soon as possible. Against my better judgment, I ignored it, and boarded my plane minutes before departure.

A half hour later, our plane taxied onto the runway, speeding up to take off, only to slam on the breaks suddenly. Aware that at the end of the runway lay the ocean, I concluded that the security badge thief had decided our fate.

It turns out it was nothing that prophetic (or fatalistic), but a simple software glitch – a software glitch that took three hours to fix and made me miss my two subsequent flights. Needless to say, I arrived in Kabul a day late, terribly jetlagged, and, well, a little dirty.

Thankfully, since then, I have showered, slept, and began work in Afghanistan. I’m scheduled to be here for three months, though I’m testing the waters to see if I can take it that long, or take it even longer. We’ll see.

A few words on Kabul: a relatively small rundown city (from wars), with the standard of living among the worst in the world. The houses all have walls that are about 6 or 7 feet tall (traditional for Afghanis) with additional 5- or 6-foot sheeting on top (for us paranoid foreigners).

Security is intense, with armed guards standing before each house, and more guards inside the walls, but outside the house. Foreigners seldom walk on the street, though by virtue of living three houses down from work, I am granted the permission to walk (house sizes in this neighborhood are roughly equivalent to suburban homes). Needless to say, I’m growing quite fat from lack of movement, but as long as my muscle don’t dystrophy, I’m not complaining.
Please pray often for her continued safety.

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