Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Guidelines for staying happy in Afghanistan

1. Start in a really nice place (Peshawar in Pakistan, or Kabul). These may not seem nice places, in fact if you compare them with Perth, London, or more or less anywhere else, but they are, compared with what's coming.
2. Spend about 3-4 months in this place, then move to worse place (Mazar). The adjustment will be tough, but then every time you go to Kabul or Peshawar, you'll really appreciate all the small things (electricity, warm heaters, access to pools, beer, soft toilet paper (if you use it), flushing toilets, hot showers etc)
3. Then move to a worse place (Maimana). A place where there is no heating, no electricity. The toilet paper is actually 80 grit sandpaper and smooths your bum to a fine finish. You flush the toilet with a bucket. You have to put the used toilet paper in a little bin, because otherwise it blocks the pipes, every few days you take this little bin of pooey paper out and burn it... You shower in a bucket. You can only get meat in chunks at the bazaar, because the butchers don't grind meat in Maimana. Sometime the meat is camel (not good). etc, etc.
4. Keep this pattern up of moving to a worse place and visiting the slightly less worse places. They seem so good!
5. When you are about to commit homicide, reverse motion and start moving to nicer places. You could visit the grungy places again, just to remind yourself what you are leaving behind, but no real need to. Just enjoy the warmth, the varied diet, the no-camel, the light, chicken dishes, real pasta, etc etc.

Next post: rules for surviving the UN

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