Continued adventures of Larry in Afghanistan, along with a suggestion for bringing peace to that troubled country.
SUICIDE BOMBERS. I had a conversation with an Afghan about poverty. He mentioned that a relative or a friend was involved in a suicide bombing years ago. The bomber didn't believe in or support the Taliban. He was desperately poor and the Taliban offered him a great deal of money to do a suicide bombing. It was the only way he could envision taking care of his family.
FLIP FLOPS. I use a shared bathroom. I am pretty much the only who uses it but there is often water on the floor and I can't always trace its origins. So I went to the Finest Supermarket to purchase a pair of flip-flops/sandals. (For you New Yorkers, I was hoping it was an old school Finast but it's not.) There are various sandals and flip-flops there but nothing in an 11 1/2 or 12. A young clerk came over to help me and said, "This is impossible, sir. You have very big foot." I bought a size 10.
BBQ PARTY. We had a nice TAIT (Thank Allah It's Thursday) BBQ on the roof last night. The treat was hamburgers and buns. But even better were some outstanding lamb chops. It was also the first time I had lettuce since arriving here. They do a chopped vegetable salad here similar to an Israeli or Lebanese salad. There was good camaraderie and I had my first three beer evening in Kabul. I loaded up some party music on the iPod and one of my colleagues had one of those speaker systems where you can drop your iPod directly into a slot and it plays. All in all, it was a nice time. Back in the gym today.
BANNED WEBSITES. As you might expect, any sort of objectionable Internet content is banned in Afghanistan. I was on the Sports Illustrated website. I clicked on the swimsuit issue link. Banned. Hmm... sexual image. OK, I get it. There was a link to a site offering free downloads of Kid Rock music. Banned. The site was sponsored by Jim Beam. OK, I get it. Rock music and alcohol. Then I clicked on a link about former Giant WR Amani Toomer's father operating the scoreboard in Oakland. Banned. I don't get it. Football? No, you can click on NFL.com. Scoreboards? Amani Toomer? Diva wide receivers? Technical glitch? Who knows?
MANGOES. Mangoes are very popular here. They are imported from India. They don't slice them here like we do. They knead them until they are very soft, cut off the end, squeeze the mango, and suck out the contents. If you have ever watched an Afghan man work over a mango, it's like he's squeezing ... well ... a part of the female anatomy. The kneading process often takes them quite awhile. Either there's a lot of satisfaction or pent-up frustration in mango eating.
I will preface these next remarks by saying that I fully understand that I sound like a sexist. Thinking about the extreme poverty, the mangoes and the banned websites, I was chatting with some of my colleagues about the situation here. Over a few drinks, we surmised that maybe what would help here is a little more skin. Life is difficult. Food is hard to come by. Alcohol is banned. There are very few pleasures in life. If every woman was in a burqa, I'd be ready to do something crazy too. Maybe a few more scantilly clad ladies would make life tolerable?
When I was getting my medical exam for my trip, my doctor suggested that the US Government buy a couple million iPods, PSPs, etc. and deliver them to the Taliban and the young people. His idea was that these people need fun in their lives. Diversions. If we take those iPods and load them up with a bunch of FHM and SI swimsuit issues, between the video games and the ladies, maybe these guys would be a bit more chilled out. (-;