Saturday, October 30, 2010

Do you know Dubai?

This post is completely self-serving.

I'm working on all of the logistics for our upcoming R&R to the States. We will spend one night in Dubai on our return trip. Our only requirements for the hotel are:
  • close to the airport
  • close to a grocery store that's open until at least midnight.

This is where you, lovely readers, come in. Are any of you in-the-know on Dubai grocery stores? Can you recommend a hotel that meets our requirements?*

*By the way, we already tried the Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza hotels at Dubai Festival City. The Crowne Plaza has no vacancies, and the Intercontinental is over our per diem by about $500!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Every once in a while

To be honest, I have been a little skeptical of the new themed format of the Weekly Foreign Service Blog Roundup. But, seeing as the new format has inspired me to write new posts for two weeks in a row, I suppose I need to change my position. This week's theme is "I never knew I'd"....

I have two. The first is just a random thought. The second was inspired by a little trip (and I mean LITTLE -- all of about 90 seconds) I took yesterday afternoon.

I never knew I'd....:
  • ....actually like being a wife
  • ....get to ride in a bad-ass Chinook* helicopter. You know, the kind where the back hatch stays open, with a gunner dangling his/her feet over the edge.

© Crown Copyright/ MOD 2009

Photo used via a Creative Commons license.

I know that I mostly gripe about being in Afghanistan. But I have to admit that experiences like this do make me just a little giddy. But only a little.

*Disclaimer: Obviously I didn't take these photos. Of course I'd be the idiot to forget her camera. But I swear I really flew on one of these yesterday!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where I'm at

My brain is totally fried and just a little pickled and unable to form coherent sentences. There's been lots of drama this week.

In case you haven't heard, President Karzai is playing a very dangerous game of chicken with the international donor community.** I worked 17 hours on Wednesday; I got to the office while my USAID colleagues in DC were just going to bed and left the office at the same time DC staffers were heading out for happy hour. Nick worked 14 hours on Thursday. Today is Friday (our one day off each week, in case you forgot), and I'm getting ready to go to a 4pm meeting. Therefore I'll just post some pictures in response to this week's Foreign Service Blog Roundup theme "Where are you now?", and let the New York Times do the talking for me.

My field trip to the Kabul Women's Garden




**Update: Yeah....the DAI project mentioned in this CNN article and this NYT article....yeah, I'm involved in that project. Holy tenous situation, Batman.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busted

The history books tell us that the name"Afghanistan" comes from the Persian language, where the word "Afghans" referred to the Pashtun tribes that rose to power in the region during the 18th century.

The history books are wrong. "Afghanistan" does not mean "land of the Pashtun tribes." It means "land that destroys small household electronics."

In the 11 months since I arrived in Kabul, the following items have gone kaput:
  • coffee maker
  • immersion blender/food processor/most kick-ass kitchen gadget ever (aka the "Thunderstick")
  • electric tea kettle
  • several alarm clocks
  • Nick's beard trimmer
  • my hair dryer

Yes, they were all plugged into an adapter or step-down converter when they died. Yes, they were all working when we left the US.

We really don't know why all of these appliances bought the farm. Luckily only one was a must-have: my hair dryer. It died just this past Friday, and I was in a bad mood about it for 2 days! I know this makes me sound like a high-maintenance girl. In fact, all I could think about was the line from Spaceballs: "That's my industrial strength hairdryer, and I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!" I mean, anyone who really knows me will tell you that I am anything but high maintenance. But with my newly shortened hair (I got it cut in Istanbul -- letting a guy who didn't speak much English take a pair of scissors to my head was an interesting experience, and an exercise in trust!), I can't just hop out of the shower and into a ponytail. I need a hairdryer......and a straightener, ideally. But that's all I need, I swear! I am not a collector of useless hair and beauty gadgets and products! Fortunately Nick and I were able to locate the ONE hairdryer available for sale on the ISAF compound, after Nick had searched high and low at the Camp Eggers PX and bazaar.

Bye bye tiny blue hairdryer. Hello giant red (& very heavy) hairdryer

As for the other two priority items -- Nick's beard trimmer and the Thunderstick -- well, Nick and I are very lucky to have incredibly helpful and generous parents. Nick made use of the "spa" services over at Camp Eggers to keep his beard growth in check while his parents mailed him a new trimmer. And my folks kindly replaced our beloved Thunderstick as a gift for our first wedding anniversary.

The other busted items aren't so much of a priority, at least at the moment. We bought an alarm clock with an Afghan plug at the little grocery store on the compound. Since we don't eat breakfast at home (we eat at our desks -- best way to deal with the new mandatory 8am start time), we don't miss the coffee maker. And the stove works just as well as the electric tea kettle.

And now, I don't really know how to wrap this up. How about a lesson of the day?

Kabul blows...............the circuits of small household appliances. *tee hee*

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SSDD

We've been home for just under a week. My tummy troubles have returned. The work-related stress is back, just as if we never left.

The vacation glow lasted all of two days. Le sigh.

I think this time around will disprove my theory that I'm more motivated to write in the blog just after we return from leave. I'm working on a post recapping our trip to Turkey, but you all saw how my trip report from Bali and Singapore worked out. And I was in much better spirits then.

But there are lights at the end of the tunnel: the Marine Ball on November 5, a trip back to the States five days later, a good friend's wedding and Thanksgiving with our families...and of course, Budapest. We're trying hard not to put all of our hope eggs in the Budapest basket, but it's hard not to be excited.

8 months to go.