Home in the Hindu Kush

So, after a very, very long flight I finally made it here. Upon arriving in San Francisco (barely on time because we didn't have a gate to go to), I had to rush over to my Lufthansa flight. Lufthansa and United not only have a codeshare, but also have two different planes leaving at the exact same time from San Francisco. How fun! I of course got on the wrong plane and then was redirected to the correct one just in time.

In Dubai I had to take a taxi between terminals so I asked the driver to give me a tour. Totally awesome. I don't know if I have ever seen so much so big--pictures down to it justice. It is the most auto-centric place I've been but the architecture was uniformly inspiring. I'v never seening seen so many ways to build a skycraper and on such a scale. Even the shopping malls were cool (and of course gi-normous). It's a purely superficial and aesthetic impression, but it's worth seeing just for that. And bollywood was everywhere.

Arriving in Kabul occasioned a little bit of confusion--I wasn't able to check my email en route and I couldn't find my driver amongst the melee so I called Nathan and went to go hang out at his office and then got in touch with my boss.

My boss, Lorenzo, job, and living situation all absolutely awesome. My office is across the street from my house in Shahr-e Nou. There are about 15 people altogether in the organisation and we've got more projects than you can shake a stick at. There all young and extremely motivated, plus they come from diverse backgrounds (students, former civil servants, etc.). Yesterday, one of my co-workers entertained me with a discourse on the vices of virtues of chapli kabab in Kunar, Jalalabad, Peshawar, and Abbotabad, and the joys of the drive to Peshawar. At lunch there was a cool discussion about women's status throughout history and the compatability of Islamic law and code law--all in Farsi of course. More fun yet, my boss just left for an anti-corruption conference for two weeks so I've been left in charge of the office on top of figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing in the first place! Two cool facts: our doorbell plays the theme from Mohabbatein and we have significant category in our budget just for cilantro. Also, when I come into the office every day I get an awesome breakfast of walnuts, cheese (panir-e irani), olives, bread, and black tea with cardamom and rose. That rocks. After that I get to work (my typing in Farsi is pushed 30 wpm, and I'm getting used to the Urdu keyboard layout) with my choice of Indian, Afghani, and/or Iranian pop. oh yeah, did I mention that I get to wear kurta pijama every day to work?

Lorenzo's a great boss and this organisation is really top-notch and unique. He's very much the French version of myself with fluent Farsi and just as determined as I am that I use my time in Afghanistan to network, improve my Farsi, and immerse myself in the culture. It's definitely helping that this workplace is entirely Farsi-speaking with bits of Urdu, Pashto, and French in on the side. My house is great too--we have a few flats around a courtyard filled with roses. It's traditional architecture and beautifully decorated. There's one for Lorenzo, one for me, and one for our servant, Ghani.

The social scene is full of interesting characters and I can tell there's always going to be a party or mehmani to attend. What's more is that there's more people in on our India trip for new year's now....the party just keeps growing :-).

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