05 March 2009

Recomposed work week baffles Yank, but city's goat herds, dogs appear to be fending well

Monday has never been the second day of the week. It doesn’t compute. Our work week at AUAF is Sunday through Thursday because Friday is the Muslim equivalent of the Sabbath. Five work days followed by two days off; that’s the easy part. But I can’t used to Sunday being the first day of the work week. I am not used being on the downhill slide of the week on Tuesday and Thursday being the last day of the work week.

Unlike my schedule, a six-day work week is normal for most Afghans. For example, our security escorts work six consecutive 12-hour days, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and even though followed by three days off is still a load. Our pay periods and monthly time sheets conform to local customs, which means each month runs from the 21st day to the 20th day of the following month.

Simple things, like going to a local bank to this afternoon to withdraw some funds from a local bank, took an hour and a half. We departed with five person besides the driver and security escort and dropped off two at a new, cozy French bakery and restaurant, then I was delivered to “my” bank , but they didn’t have an ATM, so my two comrades and I were taken deeper into the city. There are apparently two or three ATMs in Kabul (est. pop. 3-6 million) that work most of the time, though they sometimes run out of cash. The streets in the city center were choked with cars, buses of all description, hand-drawn carts, bicycles, motorcycles, and boat loads of pedestrians weaving into and out the wheeled traffic. Fortunately, no vehicle can go fast enough to run over anyone who is even modestly nimble of foot.

A little further out of the downtown, two donkeys bolted from a pair of young boys and into the traffic; one ended up across the roadway with a couple of goats. Dogs and goat herds are everywhere and graze on piles upon piles of garbage, which I imagine will stink to the high heavens as the weather warms. Kabul, according to recent environmental quality assessment (water, air, trash, traffic, etc.), is the dirtiest city in Asia. Think about the competition for a moment. I have finally caught the “Kabul cough,” which in my case seems to be a response to the palpably foul air that constantly irritates your throat (but only when you breathe). There are days when you can taste the air.

1 comment:

  1. I have never lived where the air was 'palatable.' Ewwwww. But I have been through a couple such places. Peshawar in summer comes to mind.

    were you or your colleagues inconvenienced by the bomb at the airbase the other day?

    keep yer head down, pal...