Goodbye Jalalabad

May 23, 2011   //   by peretz   //   long, photos  //  2 Comments

The wind picked up on our final morn­ing in Jalal­abad. It was soon strong enough that we locked our win­dows and yet it howled through the cracks. By the ear­ly evening the gusts were so strong that they broke win­dows on the upper deck, broke our deck fur­ni­ture and knocked over many plants. We were about to leave Jalal­abad, our adopt­ed home, where I spent 1% of my life. Before head­ing back to San Fran­cis­co, we decid­ed to do some…

read more »

Entering the FOB

Mar 18, 2011   //   by LouBu   //   culture, military  //  6 Comments

If you search for Jalal­abad on googlemaps only one road shows up, Hwy A01, the Asian High­way, a.k.a. Kab­ul-Jalal­abad-Torkham High­way.  That road is the main drag of Jalal­abad City, sport­ing twoish lanes of traf­fic flow­ing each direc­tion, packed with tuk­tuks, motor­bikes, don­keys, track­tors and toy­ota corol­las, all jam­ming for space. The main US army base in our region is FOB Fen­ty, locat­ed on the east­ern edge of Jalal­abad City. It’s a well-estab­lished base that’s been around for many years.  It’s main…

read more »

To lose and find a child in Afghanistan …

Mar 14, 2011   //   by peretz   //   culture, long  //  4 Comments

Rawed’s father Gulza­da brought him to Jalal­abad city to be seen by a doc­tor.  Sev­en year old Rawed was show­ing symp­toms of jaun­dice.  They drove into the city from a small vil­lage in the dis­trict of Sherzad.  As is com­mon prac­tice, dad tem­porar­i­ly left Rawed with a shop­keep­er from the same vil­lage and went to park the car.  “I’ll be back in a few min­utes, and then we’ll walk to the hos­pi­tal.”  When he returned the child was gone. Gulza­da is our friend Haji Najib’s ma’­ma’,…

read more »


Mar 11, 2011   //   by peretz   //   culture, photos, videos  //  2 Comments

On a down day in Kab­ul, we decid­ed to take a road trip up to Pan­jshir Valley.  Lou has writ­ten about our expe­ri­ences in a pre­vi­ous post.  This post focus­es on the game of Buzkashi.   The objec­tive of Buzkashi is to gain pos­ses­sion of a goat car­cass, car­ry it a full loop around the field, and then deposit it into your oppo­nents goal (which is a cir­cle on the ground).  If at any time you drop the goat, you…

read more »

Etymological Weaponry

Mar 10, 2011   //   by LouBu   //   military, photos, terms  //  1 Comment

Two rep­re­sen­ta­tive sym­bols of Afghanistan, grenades and pome­gran­ates, come from the same ety­mo­log­i­cal root. We dis­cov­ered yes­ter­day that the word “grenade” is tak­en from the French “pome-grenate.” French sol­diers gave the hand­held explo­sives their name because they looked like the seed­ed fruits, both in their round shape topped with a crown, and in their inner work­ings con­sist­ing of lots of small seeds, prepped for activation.  We keep a stock of both at the Taj. Mean­while, “RPG” is usu­al­ly miss-tran­s­lat­ed as “rock­et pro­pelled grenade.” Its a mem­o­rable term…

read more »

Urinals in Afghanistan

Mar 9, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   culture, photos  //  2 Comments

When con­struc­tion does hap­pen at Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty, it usu­al­ly takes place in the sum­mer months when the stu­dents and fac­ul­ty are on vaca­tion and there is less inter­fer­ence with class­es and all that. Upon return­ing to cam­pus, there is a buzz of sur­prise among the stu­dents with each new build­ing. This is the vet­eri­nary build­ing in Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty. The funds for its con­struc­tion were pro­vid­ed by USAID and its blue­print fol­lowed a stan­dard mold for such a build­ing, designed in…

read more »

Of Lions and Horses in the Panshir

Feb 23, 2011   //   by LouBu   //   culture, long, photos, videos  //  4 Comments

Last Fri­day morn­ing we head­ed off at first light from the mud­dy streets of Kab­ul. We wound our way north, past Bagram, where ISAF is head­quar­tered, and took a sharp turn east in the vil­lage of Jebal Ser­aj. We’d decid­ed to take a day long pil­grim­age, of sorts, to the tomb of Ahmad Shah Masoud. His grave lies deep his home­land of the Pan­shir Val­ley which he so famous­ly defend­ed against the long and ardu­ous Sovi­et attack. Masoud is arguably…

read more »

How the Taliban hijacked our educational materials…

Feb 22, 2011   //   by peretz   //   culture  //  2 Comments

Our Malik Dave had a won­der­ful idea. The rea­son­ing went some­thing like this: Let’s employ the Afghan com­pa­nies that sprung up to print elec­tion posters. They are cur­rent­ly out of work because the elec­tion sea­son is over. Lest we hire them, they may be up to no good. We call this tech­nique weaponized shop­ping and it’s one of the tech­niques in the arse­nal of the Syn­er­gy Strike Force. Over the past month, Lou, Juan and crew have put them­selves towards select­ing and optimizing…

read more »

Tile Porn

Feb 16, 2011   //   by LouBu   //   culture, photos  //  3 Comments

Pre­sent­ed here for your visu­al enter­tain­ment and aes­thet­ic enlight­en­ment are images from Her­at’s Fri­day Mosque, one of the gems of Islam­ic Architecture.

read more »

Teleconferencing Medicine

Feb 3, 2011   //   by peretz   //   culture, hospital, long, photos  //  2 Comments

Tues­day was one of my most reward­ing days in Afghanistan.  I wit­nessed some­thing unde­ni­ably and irre­versibly pos­i­tive. In the morn­ing an ambu­lance came to pick Dr. Pete and me up from the Taj.  We crammed along with the dri­ver in front, while 5 female OBGYN doc­tors and a male ward direc­tor sat in the back, occu­py­ing one bench and the patient cot.  I’ve rid­den in the back of this ambu­lance before and know that the cot slides around and the…

read more »