I have to say that during weeks like this one, having friends and a healthy home-life provides a lot of comfort. Danielle and I had a real giggle the other might mucking around with the humungous bottoms of a set of shalwar kameez pants she had bought……they did not have elastic in them yet so we worked out that we could either both fit in one pair or make ourselves look huge…….so we stuffed cushions down them and laughed until the tears streamed down our faces. Release of tension or early onset of madness-who knows?
Our little cat Stinky has not turned up again, which we are all sad about, but instead Hassan is back from Sudan, so for the first time since I arrived in Jalalabad we have a full house (not that Hassan is a replacement for the cat—he is not quite as hairy and does not bite people’s feet either!). The BBQ will be weighed down by the many steaks that are going to be sizzling on it tonight, when we have two people from UNHCR coming round for dinner. We were also at a UNHCR party last night which was fab—and due to the availability of white wine, as well as some very silly dancing, I left feeling incredibly light-headed and slept like a log for the first time in many nights. The UNHCR crowd are a good bunch—and the only agency which, due to a very humane boss who cares about his staff, does not work through week-ends……with the exception of UNDP-UDG, of course. I think we, too, will have to work some week-ends when it gets busy, but I plan to keep this an exception rather than a rule. I just don’t believe that staff can function properly if they work 6 or 7 days a week, think there is something wrong when people have to—and also have a sneaking suspicion that many of the expats here just work excessively because they can’t find anything to do with themselves—which is not a problem I have, books, music, gym, letters, singing and all.
So all in all, despite the tough few days I have had and the tiredness (I do need my R and R now), I am still enjoying Jalalabad —with its mule carts, colourful fruit stalls, people on bicycles, children playing at the roadside. There is not much infrastructure here and you get used to open drains, mud and dust, massive potholes after a while……but I cannot get tired of the faces of the people here—-I could spend hours just taking photos of them. During my meeting with my chief engineer near the other day,I was reminded of all the horrors people here have lived through when he informed me, whilst apologizing for his behavior, that most Afghans were “not normal (and I quote!) due to the wars they had lived through—-all this before proceeding to tell me that he had lost a close friend in the recent suicide bombings in Kabul. Sometimes it is easy for us expats to forget what people have experienced—-and yet it excuses so much.