Day 11 – JIRGA! JIRGA!, 1 June 2010

Jirga lockdown begins tomorrow. The Afghan staff is psyched. 4-day weekend. So, I will take a break from emails for a few days unless anything really interesting happens.

1. REAL WORK. I will create a marketing campaign for a fruit and vegetable processing company here on behalf of the Export Promotion Agency. If I help this company directly, I am in trouble. Our project works with the Afghan Government and trade associations. A different project works with the companies. I can tell you from experience that working with the businesses is always better than working with the Governments. So, in order to do this more interesting work, not to mention useful, I will be instructing the Export Agency on how to conduct a marketing campaign and use the fruit and vegetable company as a “practical case study.”
2. QUALITY BULLSH–. A project team member just returned from holiday. We hadn’t met previously. Anyhow, after two weeks away, he was asked to jump ‘back in the game’ immediately and talk with visitors from DC. He said, “Don’t worry, I’ll give them quality bullsh–. ”

3. ROSETTA STONE SHAME. I asked our IT guy, a local, if there was a spare computer that I could test my pirated Rosetta Stone software. He said No because the computers are all supplied by the US Govt and he added that he purchased a genuine copy of Rosetta Stone for $465 on whatever salary he makes. Fine example I am. I guess I can do a better job protecting US intellectual property.

5. YOU MAKE ME WANNA SHOUT. Security uses a lot of military jargon — ALPHA, TANGO, CHARLIE, etc. I live in Alpha House. Being an Animal House fan, I am disappointed I don’t live in Delta House. SSS, there is a Delta House. During the peace jirga, we should have a jirga party … “JIRGA! JIRGA!” (Apologies to the non-Animal House fans.)

– One custom I love here: When you meet someone and shake his hand, they put their hand over their hearts in a “Pledge of Allegiance” style maneuver to signify their sincerity.
– LG reports snow in Utah. There is no snow even at the tip-top of the mountains in Kabul. The topography here is pretty awful. I am getting used to the over the mountain treks and it is rumored the road will be paved next year.

P.S. I asked a colleague about the matchmaking process. Is it arranged or not? He didn’t get what I meant but he sent me a description of Afghan weddings that I have attached. It’s a little hard to read but interesting.

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