Days 14-18: Slow Going, 6 June 2010

Not the most enlightening email. We had three straight days of lockdown. Then we work on compound on Saturdays in order to give the Afghan staff the day off. So, it was four straight days in the house.

1. BOREDOM. The jirga lockdown caused me to finally hit major boredom. The four straight days in the house did me in. I didn’t think I could ever be bored of ping-pong. Andrey, the best ping-pong player here, and I split our first eight games. Now he usually beats me. Part of it is that he’s better than me. Part of it is that after 6-10 games of ping pong per day for ten consecutive days, I can’t even concentrate.

2. AFGHAN MOURNING. An Afghan officemate’s 24 year old younger brother died yesterday.  The Afghan mourning period is forty days. Day 1 is the burial. To prepare for the burial, family members wash the body. If one tear falls on the body, the washing must be restarted. Day 2 is the condolence. Day 3 is the hitam. It is an important day. I think it’s kind of like a somber wake. The whole mourning cycle is one year.

4. FLIES II. The flies in my room were driving me nuts. One of my housemates has an electronic fly swatter/zapper. It’s shaped like a tennis racquet. You swat the fly with the racquet, press the button and ZAP! Over the years, I have stopped killing most bugs. Mosquitos and bees of course. Generally, if the bug is not bothering me, I just toss it outside. But I had enough of these flies. I was like Charles Bronson in Death Wish. I grabbed this zapper and closed the door behind me. Just like Bronson dressing up like an old lady and riding the subway, I opened a banana and waited for these flies and said “Hey, you punk.” Two hours later there were fly carcasses strewn about and my bloodlust sated.

5. ERRATA
– Afghanistan is landlocked. During the old Silk Road days, the Khyber Pass came through Afghanistan and it was a major overland trading route. Unfortunately, it has now seaport and international trade in the modern era is difficult. Any way I had my first fish meal yesterday. Fish is my favorite. It was such a treat.
– Finally watched the Batman movie with Heath Ledger. He was good in it.
– Ping-pong update: Split with Andrey tonight.
– Kids finishing school. Doing Lake Association track and awaiting the start of flag rugby. Visiting with their cousins from out of town.
– More in a couple of days.

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