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Where's the party, yaar?

In my lastest right of passage, I have had the opportunity to witness the expat scene in action. The easiest way to describe it is that it is a much more extreme version of Cairo. Last Wednesday I went to Samarqand and it really was the bar scene from Star Wars--mercenaries aplenty and all sorts of other rough-and-tumble detritus from the oecumene. The next night I went to a house party that was only slightly better; less mercenaries but the music selection was lowest-common-denominator of old American pop and yet more current American pop. Of course there was no Farsi spoken at all and a random white guy told me that he was taking the time here to improve his Arabic!

Actually there are a lot of cool people, when met in a different environment. And the unfortunate truth is that a party's coolness is inversely proportional to the number of Americans present. Last night I went with Saurabh to have dinner at a restored beautiful fort in Kaarteh Parvaan, which functions as a base for an NGO that runs academies to preserve local artistic traditions. Fascinating project and cool people. 

So, again I'm thankful that I have a normal situation and get to live and work with locals. With Nathan, Sahar, and Lorenzo all gone this week I've branched off with the Desi crowd. Nothing beats chatting endlessly about cricket matches, fight scenes, and the best remixes. Whilst watching the B4U music video countdown me and Saurabh hatched the idea of having a Bollywood party, so that we can have our superior music and dress well. We'll see how that goes next weekend--we're gonna use the office and hopefully project montages of classic fight scenes on the wall. I guess this will be my debut on the party scene, but it should be a cooler and less provincial crowd due to the music selection.

The food here is good generally with some exceptions. Afghan Fried Chicken completely sucks. I tried it because it's the closest thing to my house, but it has no Afghan masala or jaadu or anything like that. I've tried most of the places for chapli kabab around here too. The one by the park is disappointing and the one by here gets props for using marrow and eggs in the mix, but still isn't spicy enough. The winner goes to Nathan's hole-in-the-wall place out in Karteh Seh (about five people can fit inside and the place is only identifiable by the clever sign on the window which reads "Peshawari chapli kabab". It's relatively spicy but it doesn't rank up there with Kabab Palace in Arlington or Ashiana in Diamond Bar. The Frontier (as this area is broadly know) is one of the world's cooler food ecosystems as far as technique and flavour are concerned, so there will be more good news hopefully. For those of you who don't know what chapli kabab is, Nathan put his finger on it by describing it as "a man-burger". It looks just like a hamburger patty, but the brilliant Frontier folks have figured out that you can ADD OTHER THINGS TO THE MEAT. And they add the most flavourful mix of spices, chillies and onions to the meat before cooking it in oil. Often some flour is mixed in to that it comes out a bit crispy (actually this can go to the extreme of deep-fried hamburgers at some of the famous fast food locales on roads around here. The frontier region is exceptionally rich with fast-food, which is one thing that US sorely lacks (burgers and fried chicken, or else you have to sit down and wait).

Some of you asked me to tell more about my job and what I do. Right now I'm starting up a project on natural resources and the government's role or lack thereof in their extraction. Within that, at the moment, I am figuring out which resources and what my methodology is going to be. There's plenty of time for drinking massive amounts of tea and bullshitting with my co-workers too! My outerior motive should be to find resources around Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, so I can make a trip up there, which Lorenzo also encourages. Another co-worker, Gul Pacha, has mentioned that we should go to Peshawar and maybe even Lahore for a long weekend. That would mean getting to see the Khyber Pass! It turns out the Peshawar is only 4.5 hours away from here.

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Reader Comments (2)

Young man,

Glad to see / hear that you made it safely. I like your digs, ableit they're minimalistic, ha! I've become so accustomed to the feather pillows and jacuzzi tubs at the Ritz that I have a hard time remembering that part of the world, lol!

Anyhow, I hope that you're enjoying your new duties and that this finds you well. I'm sure I'll be in touch with your dad at some point in the near future, Holidays creeping up on us here and all.

Take care of yourself, talk to you soon.

Jay C. Gordon Jr.

November 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFong Ping

Your job sounds interesting!

December 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterK-Oh

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