Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Kabul - First Day, Part 2.

The roads are dirt. They have trash littered in the street crossing areas. I observed a dog eating the discarded head of a long-horned beast. There were few people encountered. 99 percent of them were men. Some of the buildings were more new, others old with the adobe/mud style that is so common here. All were gated. I learned later that you know the street from Darulaman Road and then count the gates to your building. That's how you navigate.

My house is not brand new, but it is definitely not old. There is a pleasing guard house and guard bath, then the 'big house' where I live. In the back are at least one additional building where the higher admins live. The grounds are planted with roses and I observed birds tweeting and finding things to eat all around. The yard even has a swing set for a child. The house does have a young child living amongst us. He is four years old and named Henry. Lovely young man.

My room is near the front entry and my bath is not connected, but adjacent. I have to remember that it is completely public space when I want to run to the restroom! I must remember to procure a bathrobe when I return to the USA in July.

Two of my four walls are floor to ceiling windows. I get LOTS of natural light. In the top of one, the heating unit has its wires and cabling tunneled through the glass. Which means there is a slight, quarter-sized gap in the pane that lets in fresh air. There are four sections that are able to be opened and they are screened.

I have a queen-sized bed that my flannel sheets and wool blanket fit perfectly on. I have two regular sized, locally made pillows. The bed is more or less hard as a rock. Which means I am in heaven. I am so not a cushy kind of gal. The locally made pillows are stuffed with maybe a mixture of feathers and fabric leavings. I am not sure. I hope to replace or add to them before any guests arrive! They serve their function which is to prop me up to read my books.

My storage area is a floor to ceiling built in with various sections having locks and mirrors or just windows. I share a door with a woman (my neighbor), but it has been firmly locked and paneled. My front door has a basic locking mechanism that promises me that I will lock myself out at least once during my time here. I have one key to that door and three to my bathroom.

The floor is an industrial strength brown carpet. I have a sitting chair, a desk with lockable drawers, and a desk chair. The final pieces of furniture are two very short, but practical side tables. I moved one near the front door for my keys and cell phones charging station and the other next to the bed.

My bathroom was a bit filthy, but I expected that. I donned heavy gloves and cleaned everything up before I had to use it. I have a shower, western toilet and a sink. The lighting in both the bath and the bedroom are minimal, but serve their purpose.

After spending a few hours looking around and exploring the house and meeting a few new neighbors, I was picked up at 1 p.m. to go shopping. My new neighbor and colleague, Bruce, joined us. Mike coordinated this little excursion. I picked up some noodles, peanut butter and bread. I also got some washing detergent and other necessities.

The place that we went shopping was nearby and for locals more than expats. The driver stayed with the car and our handler accompanied us inside.

When I exited the van a local woman touched me and asked for money. She touched my arm and grabbed my elbow for my attention. I said, ney, ney (no, no), but my heart is still struggling with it. The women who beg will be something I will have to come to understand and to forgive myself that they exist and there is little I can do. I struggle with what 'the poor, you will always have with you' means.

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